If you're thinking of apiculture, you might be thinking of drones (male bees).
But if you're thinking of agriculture--more specifically sustainable agriculture practices in the 21st century--you ought to be thinking of the importance of unmanned aerial robots.
These drones promise to have a huge impact on 21st century sustainable agriculture.
Indeed, a newly published review paper, “Drones: Innovative Technology for Use in Precision Pest Management,” appearing in the Journal of Economic Entomology, should be required reading. The work of a four-member international team of scientists, including UC Davis entomologist Elvira de Lange, it's one of the first of its kind to summarize scientific literature on the use of agricultural drones for pest management.
De Lange, who assembled the team of authors, says that sustainable agricultural practices in the 21st century should increasingly depend on drones and other innovative technologies.
In advocating the need for more research, the authors say that drones are becoming an important part of precision pest management, from detecting pests to controlling them.
In their review, they emphasize "how sustainable pest management in 21st-century agriculture will depend heavily on novel technologies, and how this trend will lead to a growing need for multi-disciplinary research collaborations between agronomists, ecologists, software programmers, and engineers."
“We propose extensive communication and collaboration between scientists from various disciplines, extension agents, industry professionals, and commercial growers to reach drones' optimal potential to help with pest management and control,” said De Lange, the corresponding author and a postdoctoral fellow in the Christian Nansen lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The paper covers the use of drones with remote sensing equipment, to detect pest problems from the air. It calls for the increased use of actuation drones, to provide solutions such as spraying pesticides and releasing biocontrol organisms. “Most literature concerns remote sensing,” said de Lange.
Filho just completed his master's degree on drones and remote sensing in Brazil and is currently a doctoral student. Co-authors, in addition to De Lange, are engineer and drone communication expert Zhaodan Kong, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; and remote sensing expert Wieke Heldens of the German Aerospace Center, Earth Observation Center, Germany.
“Early outbreak detection and treatment application are inherent to effective pest management, allowing management decisions to be implemented before pests are well-established and crop losses accrue,” the authors wrote in their abstract. “Pest monitoring is time-consuming and may be hampered by lack of reliable or cost-effective sampling techniques. Thus, we argue that an important research challenge associated with enhanced sustainability of pest management in modern agriculture is developing and promoting improved crop monitoring procedures.”
Drones can target pest outbreaks or hot spots in field crops and orchards, such as Colorado potato beetle in potato fields or sugarcane aphid in sorghum, the scientists pointed out. “Pests are unpredictable and not uniformly distributed. Precision agricultural technologies, like the use of drones, can offer important opportunities for integrated pest management (IPM).”
De Lange, noting that drones are increasingly used in agriculture for various purposes, commented: “They are often equipped with remote sensing technology, for yield predictions, evaluation of crop phenology, or characterization of soil properties.”
“There are myriad possibilities for use of drones in pest management,” she said. “Sensing drones, equipped with remote sensing technology, could help detect pest hotspots. Pests are often small and hard to find, so indirect detection, through changes in how plants reflect light, has the potential to find the pest earlier, treat earlier, and keep damage in check.”
“Furthermore, actuation drones, equipped with precision spray rigs or dispensers of biocontrol organisms, could apply localized solutions. Pesticide sprays exactly where needed would reduce the needs to spray an entire field. More efficient distribution of biocontrol organisms would make them a more competitive alternative to pesticides.”
“Remote sensing equipment,” De Lange added, “can also be placed on manned aircraft and satellites. However, drones fly lower, increasing images' spatial resolution, and making clouds less of an issue. They are generally cheaper and can be flown more frequently. Compared to ground-based devices, drones can cover much more ground in a shorter period of time.”
The authors said that drones could also be used to distribute sterile insects and mating disruption, and contribute to pest outbreak prevention, rather than provide only solutions to existing problems.
De Lange, who holds a doctorate in chemical ecology from the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, joined the Nansen lab in 2016. Her research interests include plant-insect interactions, integrated pest management, chemical ecology and precision agriculture. She does much of her research on California strawberries.
the largest and most cited of the family of scientific journals published by the Entomological Society of the America (ESA).
He succeeds John Trumble, distinguished professor of entomology at UC Riverside, who announced last year he would be leaving his 20-year post as editor-in-chief in 2018.
Following an intensive search, ESA announced this week that Frank Zalom, a past president of the 7000-member ESA-- and highly skilled in basic biology and applied entomology--will fill that position. He will serve a five-year term. The journal publishes research on the economic significance of insects. It includes sections on apiculture and social insects, insecticides, biological control, household and structural insects, crop protection, forest entomology, and other topics.
Zalom's 40-year career intersects entomological research, teaching, and application. He served 16 years as director of the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM), considered the gold standard of IPM programs. He is the only entomologist in the UC system to receive a simultaneous appointment in teaching, research, and extension. Zalom focuses his research on IPM of agricultural crops.
The UC Davis entomologist's career is closely connected with ESA. He's a 43-year member. He served as president in 2014. He's also a past president of the Entomological Foundation (2015) and continues to serve as a member of the Entomological Foundation board of directors and ESA's Science Policy Committee. More regionally, he served as president of the Pacific Branch of ESA (PBESA) and received the coveted C. W.Woodworth Award, the organization's highest honor.
"I couldn't be more pleased to be selected the next editor-in-chief of the Journal of Economic Entomology," Zalom said. "I have spent the last 40 years of my career trying to solve economically important problems caused by arthropods using an IPM approach, and this journal, as well as ESA's other journals, have always served as a primary foundation and outlet for research conducted in my lab. As I approach the end of my career, I hope to be able to dedicate my efforts to enhancing our Society's influence on science and its application to addressing some of the most important entomological challenges that affect communities worldwide. JEE is uniquely positioned to do exactly that."
Zalom, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1978, holds two degrees in zoology and ecology from Arizona State University (bachelor of science, 1973, and master's degree, 1974). He joined the UC system in 1980, serving in roles ranging from extension IPM coordinator to professor to vice chair of the department to advisor of the UC Davis International Agricultural Development Graduate Group. He has authored more than 335 journal articles and book chapters. including "Food, Crop Pests, and the Environment" published by APS Press. His career includes serving as major professor for 12 Ph.D students and seven master's degree students.
In March of this year, Zalom received a lifetime achievement award, presented at the 9th International IPM Symposium in Baltimore, where officials noted that Frank Zalom's beliefs for IPM are four-fold:
- To solve pest control problems using effective, biologically-based pest management approaches
- To provide IPM leadership at the regional, state, national and international levels
- To provide a vigorous research program in entomology, especially related to IPM and invasive species; and
- To educate a new generation of IPM practitioners through effective undergraduate teaching and graduate student mentoring.
It was also pointed out at the symposium that "Frank has pursued these goals through a combination of fundamental studies related to pest biology, physiology, and community ecology; problem-focused, hypothesis-driven management research; and community-oriented extension efforts. His research focuses on exploiting weaknesses in the biology of a pest species and its niche in the agroecosystem or the broader landscape. He builds multidisciplinary research and outreach teams to pursue innovative ideas needed to solve major IPM challenges. His lab's research has addressed seventeen invasive species introductions: among them southern green stink bug, silverleaf whitefly, glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fly, invasive salt cedar, light brown apple moth, spotted wing drosophila, and most recently European grape vine moth, brown marmorated stink bug and Bagrada bug." (See more about his career on UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website.)
Zalom is a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Entomological Society, and ESA. Among his numerous honors: a Fulbright Senior Research Scholarship (1992-93), the ESA Achievement Award in Extension (1992), the ESA Recognition Award (2002), the James H. Meyer Award from UC Davis for teaching, research and service (2004), the Entomological Foundation IPM Team Award (2008), the Entomological Foundation Excellence in IPM Award (2010), Outstanding Mentor Award from the UC Davis Consortium for Women and Research (2013).
The ESA, founded in 1889 and headquartered in Annapolis, Md., is the world's largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines.
If any insect should be the "cover girl" during National Pollinator Week, it ought to be the honey bee (Apis mellifera)
Specifically, it should be the worker bee, although the queen bee and drones (males) have their place, too.
But it's the worker bee, the forager, that basically works herself to death. She's out gathering nectar, pollen, propolis and water for her colony. She never calls in sick. She never punches a time card. She never protests. As soon as the temperature hits around 55 degrees, she leaves the warmth of the hive to go to work.
She might not return. She may run into pesticides, pests or predators (think spiders, praying mantids, wasps, birds and the like). She may wind up spending the night on a lavender blossom when it's too cold or too dark to return to the hive. She may have to fly five miles on ragged wings and in ragged weather carrying a load heavier than she is.
Once inside, she shares her bounty with the colony. She dances to let her sisters know where she found it. This isn't America's Got Talent--these dances are not for money or fame, but for purpose. "Hey, I just found a large quantity of lavender about two miles away. It's great quality. Let's go get more."
Her weapon is her stinger, but she uses that only in defense of the hive, or when something crushes her (like a human being that accidentally steps on her). She can't be compared to an assault weapon such as an AR-15 that can shoot 25 rounds in 2.5 seconds. One sting and she dies. One barbed sting and it's all over for her.
And she's beautiful, whether she's golden, light brown or gray-black.
The Journal of Economic Entomology, published by the Entomological Society of America, graced its June cover with a honey bee. It's of a forager heading toward a tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii). The background: I captured the image several years ago in my pollinator garden in Vacaville, as I watched, awestruck, as the worker bees turned the tower of jewels into a buzzing tower of bees. Oh, sure, bumble bees, carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, sweat bees, syrphids, butterflies and hummingbirds were working the blossoms, too, but it was this determined worker bee that caught my eye.
She probably died several weeks after that flight photo. Honey bees live only four to six weeks during the busy season. The queen bee, an egg-laying machine that can pump out 2000 eggs a day, quickly replaced her.
For a moment, though, as the bee headed for the tower of jewels, time stopped. The worker bee did not.
Happy National Pollinator Week!