Originating in southern Asia and Melanesia, where it is a serious pest on coconut palms, the Red Palm weevil has been advancing westwards very rapidly since the mid-1980s. Damage to the palm tree is produced mainly by the larvae that move towards the interior of the palm burrowing tunnels and making large cavities. They can be found in any part of the palm, even in the very base of the trunk where the roots emerge. The palm tree does not show any signs of distress, until months later, when it begins to lose its strength. When the first symptoms of the attack appear, they are so serious that they generally result in the death of the tree. At this point, it is too late to save the tree and at the same time dozens of weevils fly off the dying tree, ready to attack new ones. Late detection constitutes a serious problem in the fight against the pest. Due to lack of alternatives, farmers are forced to use frequent pesticide spraying to control the problem. However, this only offers short-term protection and must be repeated throughout the year, which is costly and environmentally detrimental offering only limited protection.
Agrint has developed IoTree, the first seismic sensor for electronic detection of the Red Palm Weevil, by detecting the burrowing activity of larvae inside the tree, in the early stages of its spread. Agrint’s technology is designed to keep pest management costs to a bare minimum. The sensor’s ability to detect the weevil at a larval stage means the tree can be saved and pesticides are only applied to infested trees.