Drones Fighting Locusts

In recent months, food security concerns have emerged for nations across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as swarms of desert locusts wreak havoc on crops.

While the same level of damage isn’t currently being felt in Australia, the threat of infestations extends to us too. But drone technology is offering up solutions.

Not just a Biblical threat

In January, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned rising locust numbers in the Horn of Africa presented an “extremely alarming and unprecedented threat” to food security and livelihoods.

According to the FAO, a swarm of about 40 million desert locusts can eat the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people. Swarms can be as large as several hundred square kilometers, with as many as 80 million adults per square kilometer.

Countries impacted by infestations this year include Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

A review of records by the Australian Plague Locust Commission has reported eight large outbreaks in Australia since 1930. The FAO has encouraged the use of drones to provide early warning systems that may help prevent locust outbreaks.

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