The Institute - March 2020 - TI-10




IEEE Graduate Student Member Christina
Chaccour [left] and Nisrine El Turky, the
founders of IOTree. The startup's smart
insect trap prototype [above] is being
tested in an orchard.

the situation worse by using more chemicals than the law allows."
Farmers in Lebanon and the Netherlands
are testing the app.


El Turky and Chaccour built smart insect
traps that use a deep-learning algorithm,
machine vision, cameras, and sensors.
There are currently two prototypes of the
IOTree smart traps-one for greenhouses
and another for fields and orchards.
Traps are placed so each one covers
about 4,050 square meters (1 acre) to
catch the insects. Once caught inside, the
pests are photographed-their images
transmitted to a server-and counted.
"The photos are sent to the program's
server on the cloud-which classifies the

pest with the help of our repository of
images," Chaccour says. "The smart trap
is capable of knowing which pest is targeting the farmer's plot and how often."
The information gathered from the
images determines whether a fruit fly or
another insect is damaging the crop. Then
the system calculates how much pesticide the farmer should use based on the
type of insect and the count. The sensors
in the smart trap also measure the soil's
humidity and temperature.
The two women also built a mobile
app. The information from the smart
traps is sent to the farmers via the app,
which can be used on a mobile device
or computer.
"Once the farmer has installed the
smart IOTree devices, the app  >>>


hile on a trip in the Lebanon
Mountains, Nisrine El Turky,
an engineering professor at
Notre Dame University-Louaize, in Zouk
Mosbeh, Lebanon, heard about the struggles that farmers there were facing due
to a destructive pest: the Mediterranean
fruit fly [top]. She attended workshops
and seminars and met with farmers to
understand the issue.
She found that these pests can wipe
out an entire year's worth of crops from
laying their eggs in fruit and vegetable
plants and that farmers were spraying too
much pesticide to fight the infestations.
El Turky showed her findings to her
former student, IEEE Graduate Student
Member Christina Chaccour, an electrical
engineering Ph.D. candidate at Virginia
Tech. They set out to use technology to
solve what El Turky saw as an agricultural
crisis, and in 2018 founded the startup
Internet of Trees (IOTree).
The only way to kill the flies is to use
pesticides, but spraying too much of the
chemicals can damage crops and kill off
insects that are the pests' natural enemies. Plus, the chemicals reduce the
produce's nutritional value.
The system the two created alerts farmers when an infestation has occurred and
sends them information via a mobile app
about the right amount of pesticide to use.
"To treat the infestations, farmers were
spraying an excess amount of pesticides
on their crops," Chaccour says. "Instead
of saving their crops, they were making

The Institute - March 2020

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