Auto slug counter gives crop threat alerts

Monitoring slugs which may damage crops is a tiresome business for crop growers, who are advised to lay traps with muesli underneath to attract the slugs, and monitor them daily to estimate the slug population.

But it is an important work; if you see five or more slugs, on average, treatment is warranted on emerging or struggling winter cereal crops, for example.

This creates an opening for a new French invention which has won a bronze medal award for innovation at the SIMA Paris International Agribusiness show (February 24-28, 2019).

Developed by the Cap 2020 and De Sangosse companies, Limacapt is a self-powered connected sensor for counting and monitoring of slugs.

It is a standalone sensor that can automatically count slugs in fields. Images are acquired using a camera and infrared lighting during the night, when slug are active.

A nanocomputer embedded into the device runs an algorithm which processes several hundred images taken each night.

The farmer is sent the results of this data analysis, which gives him or her the final slug count at the end of the night

Self-powered by a solar panel, the Limacapt device is easy to deploy in the fields to be monitored. Its continuous image capture detects all active slugs, with a low error rate (about 5%), and it does not count the same slug several times.

This information enables farmers to effectively and more safely deal with this pest as soon as the risk to a crop becomes apparent.

The SIMA Paris innovation judges said the Limacapt device opens up scientific opportunities for better insight into the slug pest, and more widely of other biodiversity observed on farmland.

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