Pest App

Pest App

David Sparks Ph.D.
David Sparks Ph.D.
U of I developing novel app to identify farm pests

Van Pichler of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service calls hungry pests. Hungry pests are highly damaging to our native species and we can unknowingly spread them. They're well known as being hitchhikers.

A University of Idaho research team is refining a first-of-its-kind app that will allow grain farmers to instantly identify common pests and beneficial insects inhabiting their fields.   

Marek Borowiecki, with U of I’s Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology, is the lead investigator on the project, funded with a four-year, $500,000 Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics Tools grant offered through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.   

Alex McKeeken helped finetune the app for his master’s thesis in bioinformatics and computational biology.

The team also includes Sanford Eigenbrode, a professor in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology; Arash Rashed, a UI Extension entomologist; Jennifer Hinds, with U of I Research Computing and Data Services; Luke Sheneman, program manager of U of I’s Institute of Modeling Collaboration and Innovation; and postdoctoral researcher Subodh Adhikari.

They hope their unique app will be finished and in use in farm fields throughout Idaho by next fall.    

Once it goes live, the app will allow farmers to take photos of insects common in cereals and other Idaho rotation crops with a phone camera to be uploaded and identified.

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