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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Grain-Bug Snooper Passes First Commercial Test

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 were present.

During the New Orleans test, scientists were able to shield the system from the noisy background of the grain elevator. Now they’re developing a frame that will minimize vibrations that can shake the grain and interfere with data collection. They’re planning a return trip to the New Orleans facility to test the frame.

Scientists say ALFID has the potential to improve inspection procedures of USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration by picking up hidden infestations that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Scientific contact: Dennis Shuman, Postharvest and Bioregulation Research, Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology Research, ARS, USDA, Gainesville, Fla., phone (352) 374-5737.

Last Modified: 8/22/2017
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