Some Use Cases for “Palmear’s Technology”

Date Palms, Coconut, Oil Palm and Sago Palm

AI-generated photo for a coconut tree

The Red Palm Weevil (RPW) (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) has devastating effects on global palm tree populations. Originating in tropical Asia, the pest is rapidly spreading around the world, leaving trails of destruction behind it. Coconut palms, date palms, oil palms, sago palms and a range of ornamental palms are all vulnerable to the pests’ attack.

The pest has been detected in France since 2006 and is now particularly present in the French Riviera, which is now consequently set to lose all of its iconic palm trees (over 400,000 palms). The pest is also seriously degrading date palm trees population and production in Arab countries with 30% of palm production at risk due to pest infestation and disease

Countries in the Asia Pacific are also at risk from the RPW, which is destroying coconut trees in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines (to name a few). If the pest is not controlled, then it has the potential of destroying the coconut industry, and its social and economic benefits. 

Current methods to eradicate the pest include applying insecticides to the crown, trunk, or soil of the palm before there is permanent damage. Due to the RPW’s difficulty in early detection, having a method to identify early infestation would be invaluable to this type of treatment.

Ash Trees

AI-generated photo for an Ash tree

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) (Agrilus planipennis) is native to East Asia, specifically China and the Russian Far East. Once a tree is infested, it usually dies within two to six years. EABs are particularly harmful to ash trees in Northern America, where they have no resistance to them with less than 1% of ash trees ever attacked by the pest surviving. Ash trees are extremely valuable in the U.S. providing a variety of economical benefits; timber from ash trees is valued at $25 billion/year in the eastern U.S. and the 8 billion ash trees in U.S. forests are worth an estimated $282 billion.

In Canada, millions of trees have been killed in forested and urban areas by the EAB. The Canadian government is trying to limit the pests’ spread and mitigate the risks, however, they are faced with challenges due to limited data, early generational detection and treatment methods.

The Asian long-horned beetle (ASLB) (Anoplophora glabripennis), is another pest, native to eastern China, and Korea which feeds on a wide variety of trees, including ash, birch and elm trees. It is currently threatening recreation and forest resources valued at billions of dollars in the U.S. It has infested areas in Massachusetts, New York and Ohio. The ASLB has the potential to destroy millions of acres of treasured hardwoods – these areas including national forests and backyard trees. There is currently no effective cure, early identification or eradication methods to get it under control.

Cedar, Fir, Pine and Spruce Trees

AI-generated photo for a spruce tree

Bark beetles (family Scolytidae) are taking advantage of global warming and reproducing at speed. They attack cedar, fir, pine and spruce trees and are particularly prevalent in Scandinavia and the U.S. They have killed over 5% of the forest area in the western United States since 1997, which amounts to millions of acres of trees. The USDA US Forest Service is trying to find ways to detect bark beetles, however, currently their methods include Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) which only detect infestation once a sufficiently large area of trees are infested and damaged, remote sensing which only offers late stage detection and pest traps, which only give an indication of pests presence, capturing insects and not larvae inside trees. Due to these methods lacking early stage detection, by the time the pest is eventually identified,  it is too late for effective intervention.

Fruit (Avocado and Mango), Nut and Lumbre Trees

The Polyphagous shot-hole borer (PSHB) is an invasive pest native to Southeast Asia that has been spreading out across southern California, Israel and South Africa. Its devastating presence is predicted to cost South Africa $18.5 billion over the next decade as millions of trees, including fruit, nut and lumber trees, are cut down and die. Researchers have predicted that damage to avocado and lumber plantations alone will cost South Africa $1 billion, as the country prepares for the outbreak of this invasive pest. 

Currently, detection of the pest includes – searching for signs of a possible PSHB infestation and limiting the movement of infested dead wood to avoid exposing other trees. However, pests are only evident when the host tree shows signs of dying, by which point the spread of the pest is almost impossible to prevent.

Soil biodiversity

A researcher using Palmear technology to listen to the soil

Listening to the soil allows users to measure, analyze and preserve soil activity and biodiversity. Bioacoustics could be incredibly useful in reforestation programs which lack the monitoring capabilities to fully understand the complexity of soil. By implementing bioacoustics into reforestation programs, conservationists could effectively measure soil biodiversity conservation.  Furthermore, bioacoustics provide a scalable way for soil biodiversity to be monitored globally, which can help to reinstate the integrity and stability of the world’s underground earth systems.

The common theme among all these use cases is the lack of early detection and monitoring methods resulting in severe economic and environmental impact. Palmear’s technology provides farmers, businesses and governments with an accessible way of detecting and monitoring pest infestations early, allowing for effective, scalable interventions. It also helps to protect and advance human understanding of plants and soil through the application of bioacoustics. Palmear has revolutionized the capabilities of acoustic technology and AI in the natural world, offering insights into our precious biodiversity and providing us with means to detect and understand its communication.

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