The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLVIII-1-2024
10 May 2024
 | 10 May 2024

Monitoring the spread of a pathogenic insect on vineyards using UAS

Valeria Longhi, Alessio Martino, Andrea Maria Lingua, Paolo Felice Maschio, and Elena Belcore

Keywords: Precision agriculture, AgriTech, Computer Vision, Object Detection, Photogrammetry, UAS

Abstract. Globalisation has contributed to rapid economic growth but has also exposed vulnerabilities such as the spread of pests in agriculture. An example is the Popillia Japonica Newman beetle, introduced to Italy in 2014, which has caused significant economic losses, mainly affecting vine cultures. Reliable identification of pests is essential for its management, but it is time-consuming and laborious. This has prompted growing interest in image-based methods, supported by computer vision (CV), which can significantly improve efficiency in insect detection. This study aims to evaluate a CV algorithm's effectiveness in identifying adult specimens of Popillia using Near-Infrared sensors on Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS). The project, conducted in two vineyards in northern Italy, intends to establish a replicable and standardised data acquisition protocol for future monitoring activities. Insects detected by the CV-based method are validated by manual counting performed by entomologists. In a GIS environment, prescription maps are generated in near real-time to identify where the vineyard is most affected and to guide the drone spraying treatment only on the areas in which the threshold is exceeded. The study demonstrates effective semi-automated monitoring, with a clear correlation between CV-based and manual insect measurements, as indicated by the Pearson correlation coefficients ranging from 0.89 to 0.96. Although the CV-based method may overestimate insect numbers, it provides valuable insights for targeted pest management interventions and damage assessment. The project outcomes offer a promising approach to safeguarding agriculture against invasive species, enhancing regional economic resilience while minimising the spread of insecticide, the required time, and human interaction with harmful substances.