New EU project uses tech to tackle plant pests

A new sensor system prototype (SSP) has been developed to detect and identify five major plant pests, which can harm crops and forests. The SSP will help to prevent new pest invasions into Europe, reduce the need for pesticides, and protect plant health.

Source: PurPest

The expected increase in plant pests due to climate change and the intensification of food production systems hinders the reduction in the use of pesticides in the EU by 50%, one of the ambitious goals of the Farm2Fork strategy. The need to control new pest invasions and established ones is, in fact, increasing pesticide use. Hence, new tools and methods are needed to prevent new pest entries into Europe and to use pesticides more efficiently for established pests.

The EU-funded project “PurPest – Plant pest prevention through technology-guided monitoring and site-specific control” aims to exploit the specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by target pests or plants attacked by them for the development of a sensor system prototype (SSP) to detect the VOCs and timely identify these 5 major pests: Phytophthora ramorum; the fall armyworm; the cotton bollworm; the brown marmorated stink bug; and the pinewood nematode.

PurPest will become a game changer by providing plant inspectors, importers, nurseries and growers with reliable, affordable and fast detection devices to locate and eradicate plant material and wood-infested with these quarantine organisms, thereby greatly reducing their spread into- and among European countries, and preventing them from establishing populations in new areas.

The impacts of a pest detecting SSP are:

  • A drastic decrease of new pest invasions into Europe and reduce the need for control measures by enabling systematic and reliable screening of plant material for pests. In-field detection would enable site-specific control of pests, further reducing the pesticide use.
  • When implemented in nurseries, the prevention of the distribution of pest-infested plant material from exporting to importing countries.

PurPest with Grant ID: 101060634 is supported under HORIZON-CL6-2021-FARM2FORK-01-04-Tackling outbreaks of plant pests, funded under the HORIZON Research and Innovation Action (RIA) from the European Research Executive Agency (REA)-Green Europe REA.B.

More information

SOURCEPurPest Project
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