Three remote sensors have been installed on a Dorset farm to detect varieties of invertebrates and birds in correlation to the flowering plants they rely on.
The project aims to test and demonstrate the effectiveness of sensor technology as a means of remotely monitoring wildlife diversity on farms.
It is being funded via Innovate UK and Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme, and is taking place on Hemsworth Farms, a 400 hectare organic farm near Wimborne in Dorset.
AgriSound, who specialise in remote insect technology and environmental sensors, have installed three unique in-field sensor devices for automated insect monitoring as part of the project.
The technology, Polly™, is optimised for attracting pollinators from a broad spectrum of local insects.
The sensors detect 24/7 through the use of a specialised bioacoustics technology, with data transmitted and stored securely.
Other technology used includes Pollenize app to photograph and geolocate plant species, while Chirrup AI will use artificial intelligence to monitor species of birds that are thriving on the farm.
This, in turn, will reveal more about the diversity of bugs and seeds above ground, and the richness of life in the soil
The same transects monitored by the digital devices will be surveyed by a professional ecologist from Dorset Wildlife Trust to explore the findings.
Sophie Alexander, farm owner of Hemsworth Farms, said it was important to establish the farm's biodiversity baseline and to continue to monitor progress.
"We are pleased to be involved with testing the data collection capabilities of digital technologies to assist ecologists and in this case, Dorset Wildlife Trust to ground truth the information and demonstrate how an organic farming system can nurture wildlife as well as produce food.”
The early-stage feasibility project will explore emerging applications of remote sensing to inform the development of a commercially relevant solution.
It is hoped this will catalyse a pipeline of further R&D across a wider area, new research collaborations and accelerate research translation and development of new solutions.
Casey Woodward, Founder and CEO of AgriSound, said: “It’s a tremendous opportunity for all parties involved to put AgriSound’s cutting-edge pollinator monitoring technology to the test in a real-world farming context.
"We truly believe this project has the potential to shed new light on all of the great work happening across British farms to improve local biodiversity."