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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service



2009 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The goal of this study is to develop affordable, portable, and customized sensor systems detecting pest presence and volatile organic compounds.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) that indicate the presence of insect pest infestations, insect plant damage, and pesticide applications will be identified from available literature and through gas chromatography (GC) analysis performed in cooperation with scientists within our Unit. An instrument will be developed for collecting, monitoring, and recording gas emissions from the presence of quantity of these organic compounds. The first step is to develop a method to collect the gas emissions in a confined space. Next, a means of recording the gas measurement data automatically will be developed. Instrument development involves assembly of the sensor chamber and connections between the chamber and data collection system. Gas sensors will be mounted in the ceiling of the chamber and linked to a circuit board placed on top of the chamber, which will be connected to the power source. A data acquisition module will be used to convert the output from the gas sensors to digital output for recording and analysis. The data will be processed using principal component analysis, discriminate analysis, and other analyses based on statistical pattern recognition and artificial neural networks. The system hardware, software, and platform will be tested using the compounds of interest at differing levels of concentration to ensure proper system functionality. The working system will then be tested under laboratory and field conditions for its ability to detect varying concentrations of VOC from infested plants and pesticide applications.

3. Progress Report
The goal of this project is to develop a customized, economical, and portable sensor system to detect the presence of arthropod pests (on the basis of the volatile organic compounds they emit), and also to detect volatile organic compounds from plants and other sources. In FY 2009, work focused on computerized sensors (commonly called electronic noses or E-noses) that mimic the human, animal, or insect sense of smell to establish if these sensors can detect airborne chemical compounds associated with stink bugs. The E-nose was able to detect the presence of stink bugs and also to differentiate between male and female stink bugs. However, the E-nose was unable to distinguish between different species of stink bugs. Results from this collaborative research may lead to use of E-nose technology to detect the presence of pest insects in a field, and to determine if infestations warrant a spray application to prevent damage to the crop. Work under this project has also resulted in development of a single sensor system using a tin dioxide semiconductor that has high sensitivity to the vapors of organic solvents and other volatile vapors; evaluation of the sensor is in the preliminary stages. The ADODR of this project and the cooperator are located in close physical proximity and are in contact with each another on an ongoing basis. The ADODR and the cooperator (or key personnel working under the cooperator) meet and discuss the direction and progress of the work on a regular basis.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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