Grain-Bug Snooper Passes First Commercial
By Sean Adams
December 2, 1996
An automated system that can
hear insects that infest stored grain passed its first
commercial-scale test at a New Orleans grain terminal.
Scientists with the Agricultural Research
Service have received a patent (No. 5,473,942) for the invention, called
the Acoustic Location Fingerprinting Insect Detector (ALFID). The technology is
available for licensing.
The system uses acoustic sensors to detect the sounds insects make as they
feed on grain and move inside grain storage areas. To test the system on a
commercial level, scientists set up ALFID in late April at a federal grain
inspection office at the Bunge Corporation grain elevator near New Orleans.
Researchers said that as quickly as within 10 minutes, ALFID accurately
detected the location and number of larvae in a variety of grain samples.
Previous methods could only find adults, but could not tell how many larvae
During the New Orleans test, scientists were able to shield the system from
the noisy background of the grain elevator. Now theyre developing a frame
that will minimize vibrations that can shake the grain and interfere with data
collection. Theyre planning a return trip to the New Orleans facility to
test the frame.
Scientists say ALFID has the potential to improve inspection procedures of
USDAs Grain Inspection, Packers and
Stockyards Administration by picking up hidden infestations that might
otherwise go unnoticed.
Scientific contact: Dennis
and Bioregulation Research, Center
for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology Research, ARS,
USDA, Gainesville, Fla., phone (352)