Dutch cress grower Rob Baan has enlisted high-tech helpers to tackle a pest in his greenhouses: palm-sized drones seek and destroy moths that produce caterpillars that can chew up his crops.
“I have unique products where you don’t get certification to spray chemicals and I don’t want it,” Baan said in an interview in a greenhouse bathed in the pink glow of LED lights that help his seedlings grow. His company, Koppert Cress, exports aromatic seedlings, plants and flowers to top-end restaurants around the world.
Baan turned to PATS Indoor Drone Solutions, a startup that is developing autonomous drone systems as greenhouse sentinels, to add another layer of protection for his plants.
The drones themselves are basic, but they are steered by smart technology aided by special cameras that scan the airspace in greenhouses. The drones instantly kill the moths by flying into them, destroying them in midair.
“So it sees the moth flying by, it knows where the drone is, and then it just directs the drone towards the moth,” said PATS chief technical officer Kevin van Hecke.
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