Drones carrying ladybirds to take on pests on organic fields

Project could eventually lead to a decrease in pesticide use

A new research project supported by the Environment and Food Ministry is developing a drone that can efficiently wage biological warfare on the little insects that wreak havoc on organic fields in Denmark – by dropping predators into their midst.

In organic fields, it’s a challenge to fight pests like mites and aphids without using chemicals, but the drones spreading ladybirds, predatory mites and midges across the fields has been deemed a viable method of protecting the vulnerable crops.

“It’s not just the organic sector that is booming in Denmark,” said the environment and food minister, Esben Lunde Larsen. “The desire to innovate is also blossoming, and Danish companies are among the world’s best at developing new technology within a number of areas.”

“The Danes increasingly crave organic products, so the better conditions the farmers have to farm organically, the more it’s worth them producing.”

READ MORE: Danish government supporting fishing drone program

Organic leaders
The project has been formed as a collaboration between the Danish tech company Ecobotix, Aarhus University and the University of Southern Denmark.

The project has been supported by 8.3 million kroner by the Environment and Food Ministry’s business-support scheme, Green Development and Demonstration Program (GUDP), and it is initially expected to be able to reduce the use of pesticide in Danish agriculture by 3.4 percent.

“We are already building prototypes and we are aiming for a solution that will make us be able to observe and prevent insect attacks,” said Anders Petersen, a spokesperson from Ecobotix.

With 8.4 percent, Denmark has the highest organic consumption per capita in the world. The nation is home to 2,557 organic farmers.