An electric zap may have just given crop scouting a boost. Z-Trap 1 is an electronic insect trap from Spensa Technologies. It allows for remote monitoring of pest problems. Real-time count updates and daily reports of insect activity are sent to the cloud for web- or mobile-based monitoring. The trap’s automated process of capturing and counting insects carries the potential to save on labor effort and improve accuracy for pesticide applications.

Hands Off But Connected. Using standard pheromones as a lure, the trap attracts insects, which fly into the trap and make contact with a high-voltage grid. The voltage drops, and the time-stamped data are sent to the cloud. Based on the level of voltage drop, time of day and pheromone detection, the Spensa AP data platform distinguishes among species of insect, leaves and debris. A grower or consultant can log in and see real-time insect totals for days, weeks or months across multiple Z-Trap machines. The insect-catching devices can be turned on or off remotely according to time of day.

Future Pest Insights. Migratory pests are tracked via the Z-Trap network. And data can be visualized on maps tracking pest pressures over time and geography.

The Spensa trap also features a newly released phenology model that uses the trap data from a specific field to predict future insect pressures. Dynamic Phenology is a tool to predict timing of the insect life cycle, and it adds real-time weather data. Together, the information can be used for effective pesticide applications.

A feature called Trapping Insights includes pest alerts and a degree day calculator.

Timely Technology. “If you factor together driving, counting, replacing when necessary and cleaning, we estimate Z-Trap will save a minimum of 30 minutes of labor per trap per trip,” explains Chad Aeschliman, vice president of engineering for Spensa Technologies.

He says consistent and accurate pest counts from Z-Trap enable faster decisions for pest management.

“Labor savings are significant, but another area improved by Z-Trap is timing,” Aeschliman says. “The stream of data helps a grower recognize when a crop is vulnerable and needs treatment.”

The Z-Trap technology was first used in almond, apple and peach crops. Since 2010, Spensa has tested 400 units in the U.S., Australia, Brazil and New Zealand for use in corn, soybeans and tree fruit. 

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