Main research question
Vegetable growers in Flanders make crop protection decisions based on information from observation & warning (O&W) systems. To make their decisions as optimal as possible the existing O&W systems are automated and expanded using a community of observers. Because it is impossible to cover the O&W system of all vegetable crops, this project mainly focuses on the outdoor vegetables that are of great economic importance for Flanders and that show a high need for an updated O&W system: leek (onion thrips, Thrips tabaci), carrot (carrot fly, Psila rosae), chicory (chicory leafminer, Phytomyza cichorii) and cabbage (cabbage fly, Delia radicum).
The current O&W systems consist of periodically sampling insect traps on multiple plots spread across Flanders, where researchers manually screen these samples for a specific pest. By adding new applications and improvements to O&W systems in a parallel and iterative way, e.g. through automated observations, development of better pest models and use of big data, we will make the functioning of O&W systems faster, more efficient and more performant. We will work with multidisciplinary action labs (within an agile framework) around specific top priority pests.
Optimization of the O&W systems will result in more efficiency and save time. The development of (semi-)automatic systems will also make it possible to monitor more fields with a higher frequency, so that the monitoring results will give an even more representative image of a given pest for a certain region.