Controlling Citrus Disease with the Photonic Fence


Controlling Citrus Disease with the Photonic Fence

June 21, 2016

We’ve talked extensively about how Photonic Fence’s light-based technology could help control diseases like malaria or Zika. But the technology isn’t just for mosquitoes. IV Lab also sees a promising future in agriculture for the Photonic Fence, where diseases transmitted by insects can devastate crop production.

In a recent study, IV Lab proved that the technology can effectively track and shoot down the Asian Citrus Psyllid, an insect that transmits citrus greening disease. The disease has severely impacted citrus production in Florida and around the world.

Check out the full post at the IV Lab blog for more details.

Citrus growers have relied on chemical insecticides to control the pest. But in recent years the bugs have begun to fight back by developing resistance to the powerful chemicals. Pesticides have also been shown to have negative health effects on humans and wildlife, making them fall further out of favor.

Instead, the Photonic Fence works in three phases:

  • First: The sensor distinguishes the psyllids from other insects by measuring various aspects of the target’s behavior, including its size and wing beat frequency (the measure of how fast the insect is flapping its wings).
  • Second: A safety interlock subsystem confirms there are no other organisms nearby which could be harmed by the lethal laser.
  • Third: The laser shoots a lethal dose that disables the psyllid.

The entire process takes less than 100 milliseconds.

The study is part of a larger project supported by our Global Good Fund to assess the effectiveness of Photonic Fence’s on a number of disease-carrying mosquitoes and agricultural pests.

Because the fund is focused on using technology to improve the lives of people in the developing world, IV Lab’s original goal in creating the Photonic Fence was to deploy the system in the developing world to control diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, such as malaria, dengue and Zika virus. In order to make the technology economically viable for the developing world, however, IV Lab is looking at introducing the system first in developed world applications in the agriculture and hospitality markets, where we can bring the product more quickly to scale.

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