A new technology called Ecologic Insect Killer has been developed by a team of scientists at the University of Melbourne to tackle the threat of invasive insects in Melbourne’s backyard.
The project, which is due to be completed later this year, is based on an algorithm which combines the information from sensors and drones to create a map of the area that an insecticide is applied.
Dr Paul Jardine, from the University’s School of Biological Sciences, said it would help people “better understand and understand the nature of a problem that they might be dealing with in their backyard”.
“It’s important to know that the system that we have in place to monitor and assess the risk of insecticide application, the technology we have is only as good as the way that it’s applied,” he said.
“It has to be effective at identifying and avoiding the application of a toxic agent.”
Mr Jardina said the system was based on the assumption that there was no interaction between the insecticide and the soil, which could potentially reduce its effectiveness.
“We’re not saying that the application is always 100 per cent effective, but we’re suggesting that the technology can identify the effects of the application and the application can be tailored to reduce or eliminate that effect,” he explained.
“What we’re doing is giving the information about where the application has been applied to the people who are using it, the people in the neighbourhood who are going to have the greatest impact on the area around the application, and the people within that area who are actually experiencing a negative impact from the application.”
Mr Yaffe said the approach could also be used to help farmers “control weeds”.
“You can actually take a look at the weeds and make sure that there is no interaction with the soil,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne’s Today program.
“In some cases, where you can control weeds in your garden, it’s really hard to control weeds that are on the edge of your garden.”
He said this could be used as a way of “stopping the spread of a weed or reducing the spread” of invasive pests such as cockroaches.
The University of Sydney is currently using the same technology to identify and block cockroach infestations in a suburb of Sydney.
Dr Yaffe hopes the technology could also help farmers who were in danger of getting cockroches in their garden.
“They may be concerned about cockroache populations, and you can actually give them the data that shows there are no cockroch populations in their area,” he says.
“If you can identify cockrocha populations in your area, you can then control those cockroche populations.”
The cockrochy infestation in a garden in the suburbs is probably one of the worst things you can do.
“The Australian Government is already looking at ways to improve the efficiency of the technology.”
With this technology, we can now measure and measure the levels of weed control, weed suppression, insecticide use and pest control, and see if it can help the agricultural industry to save money,” Environment Minister Greg Hunt said.
Dr Jardines co-founder, Dr Tim Balsillie, said that the research was “highly significant” and would lead to the development of “better ways to control insects”.”
There are still some questions that need to be answered, like how well it works with soil or how it’s distributed across the entire garden,” he noted.