AI Used to Protect Crops from Pests

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Corn earworm (also called cotton bollworm, or tomato fruitworm) on an immature cotton boll.
Source: ARS/USDA

Just when you think artificial intelligence (AI) has infiltrated all corners of our lives, the tech pops up in an unexpected place. This time AI is helping farmers track pests.

Trapview, a Slovenian company, has developed a pest trap that can identify over 60 species of bugs, including the highly destructive desert locust. Also identifiable are codling moths and cotton bollworms, which wreak havoc on apples and tomatoes respectively.

Matej Štefančič, CEO of Trapview and parent company EFOS, stated, “We’ve built the biggest database of pictures of insects in the world, which allows us to really use modern AI-based computing vision in the most optimal way.”

A 2021 FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) report indicated that up to 40% of crops are lost globally due to pests annually. Insects in particular cost the agriculture industry at least $70 billion per year. The problem only looks to get worse as climate change allows pests to increase their territory, change migratory patterns, and increase population.

The artificial intelligence devices can cover from a few hectares up to 100 hectares and are tailored to the landscape and crops, and thus, the bugs that might inflict damage. Not only can the device track insects, it can forecast pest activity so a farmer knows whether they’re looking at an infestation or nothing to worry about.

The connected app can calculate whether pesticides should be used and the best location(s) for application. Štefančič asserts that this technology not only reduces unnecessary use of pesticides, but also the number of times a farmer needs to visit the fields, resulting in lower emissions from pesticide production as well as pesticide and farmer transportation.

Discussion Questions

1. Is artificial intelligence good for society? Why or why not?

2. AI has also been integrated into pet doors to keep out other animals. What unique applications can you dream up for AI technology? Explain how AI would be helpful.

3. What other technology could help farmers limit or eliminate damage by pests? Explain your answer(s).


FAO, “Climate Change Fans Spread of Pests and Threatens Plants and Crops, New Fao Study,”, June 2, 2021

Tom Page, “Can an AI-Powered Insect Trap Solve a $220 Billion Pest Problem?,”, Nov. 24, 2022 

Trapview, (accessed Nov. 30, 2022)