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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Parlier, California » San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center » Commodity Protection and Quality Research » Research » Research Project #438385

Research Project: Development of Handling, Transport and Release Methods for Sterile Navel Orangeworm (Amyelois transitella)

Location: Commodity Protection and Quality Research

Project Number: 2034-43000-043-020-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Jun 1, 2020
End Date: Sep 30, 2020

Objective:
1)Improve handling, transport and release methods for shipping navel orangeworm insects from the Phoenix Mass Rearing Facility located in Phoenix, Arizona to the field sites in Fresno, California. 2) Develop an automated insect transport magazine developed for auto-dosing  insects at predetermined insect by biomass/acre. 3) Determine optimal release height and swath width. 4) Develop and prepare vehicle storage of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and release magazine for future robotic automation. 5) Assess the viability of UAS for releasing sterile navel orangeworm.

Approach:
Objective 1) Develop and test a system to replace current passive cooling in the existing transport magazine with an air conditioning system controlled with feedback obtained from Internet of Things enabled sensors tracking insect container temperature once per minute during transport. The air conditioning system and sensors will target temperatures identified through bench studies to assess the impact of torpor throughout the handling, transport and release process. Objective 2) Develop a system of a scale and an auger that can be programmed to automatically dose a set number of insects by mass and acre into a release device designed to release sterile navel orangeworm (NOW). This will be used with insect mass data recorded at the sterile release facility to precisely deliver a target overflooding ratio. Objective 3) Swarm technology (the ability to simultaneously release from 3 UAS at 3 altitudes) will be used to minimize variation due to environmental variables (wind speed, temperature, and relative humidity) to determine optimum height and swath width for UAS and compare to currently-used manned aircraft. Objective 4) Robotic developed in previous M3-APHIS projects will be examined to determine if the handling, transport and release of sterile NOW prior to loading into aircraft (manned or UAS) can be improved to reduce worker exposure to scales while maintaining or improving quality of sterile insects. Objective 5) Current and improved UAS methods will be tested at pilot scale by conducting a series of three 1-week mark-release-recapture at a scale of 160 acres.