Monday, July 3, 2017

Track Insect Pressure with the Z-Trap System

Having issues with corn earworm, western bean cutworm or European corn borer on your farm?  This becomes especially important if you have hybrids with no Bt traits or food grade corn.  Depending on your location in the state, the western bean cutworm and corn earworm can attack between July through harvest.   The 1st generation of corn borer can attack from June until mid-July and can be worse on early planted corn. The 2nd generation of corn borer can be worse on later planted corn and can attack from mid-July until harvest.

There is a new way to track insect pressure on your farm, that we are experimenting with at Burrus Seed, called the Z-Trap system. The Z-Trap is a new product produced by Spensa, an agricultural company that develops software to help growers be more aware of what is happening in their fields. The Z-Trap measure insect activity in your area, then deliver pest population data in near-real time. 

Z-Traps produced by Spensa

The Z-Trap is easy to set-up, requiring only a stake to hang the trap and a cellular signal.  In the Z-Trap, you insert a pheromone attraction piece to attract the desired insect.  There are bioimpedance sensors to shock the insect, which then allows it to fall into the holding tank.  The trap measures the electrical impedance of the insect.  Then, the computer built into the onboard controller, processes the signal and validates the target insect. 

After an insect is trapped in the Z-trap, it sends the results of what it has just trapped to you via email, web or app.  You can then trace insect pressure by graphs and charts that are produced through Spensa, with data sent directly from your field. 
“The Z-Trap system is a way for farmers to use smart insect traps to analyze and predict insect populations in their fields,” says Spensa.   The goal of the Z-Trap is to catch problems early and use pesticides with more precision for increased yields.  Spensa says there is “no substitute for boots in the field.”  But with the Z-Trap, it can give you in-field human judgment for spotting and documenting insect problems.
Johnny Park, President and CEO of Spensa Technologies, which is headquartered at Purdue University, says knowing when to timely apply pesticide is crucial for any crop being grown.  “, is a software that presents the data to growers and consultants so they can make an informed decision on what to use.”  Park adds that having the information sent straight from to your phone or computer is a new step in production agriculture.

2017 Burrus Agronomy Intern, Griffin Greene installing new Z-Trap

Burrus Seed has implemented one of these Z-Traps on a test plot in Arenzville.  We look forward to seeing the corn borer pressure that we catch this summer near our conventional corn plot.  

Written by Burrus Agronomy Intern, Griffin Greene

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