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An innovative digital support tool means growers can now remotely monitor the migration of key oilseed rape pests. Launched at Cereals 2024, MagicTrap from... How digital water trap helps growers tackle flea beetle

An innovative digital support tool means growers can now remotely monitor the migration of key oilseed rape pests.

Launched at Cereals 2024, MagicTrap from Bayer is a fully automated, nex- generation digital yellow water trap. It provides farmers and agronomists with continuously updated information on pest pressure.

The trap autonomously detects, categorises and quantifies a range of insects. It can distinguish between pests and beneficials, ensuring growers never miss a pest migration.

Available initially for oilseed rape, Magic Trap accurately detects cabbage stem flea beetle, weevil and pollen beetle. Traps have been in commercial use in Germany for the past two seasons, collecting over 800,000 images to date.

How it works

Trap components include a solar-powered, high-resolution smart camera which photographs the trap contents at regular intervals. A specially designed grid prevents bees and other beneficial insects entering the trap.

Artificial intelligence (Al) image recognition provides automatic species identification, automatically sending insect counts to the MagicScout smartphone app and alerting users if pre-determined pest thresholds are exceeded.

Data sharing

Trap data can also be shared with multiple users or exported via the app. MagicTrap is solar powered with a seven-day battery back-up and a water reservoir topping-up trap levels for up to three weeks.

“Feedback from growers and agronomists involved in our UK development trials last autumn highlights MagicTrap’s value in providing field-specific data to support decision-making,” says Bayer digital manager Max Dafforn.

Pest migration

With standard yellow water traps impractical for many growers because of the time taken to check and identify their contents, Mr Dafford says Magic Trap provides a valuable extra layer of information on pest pressure.

“The ability to keep a regular check on traps without having to visit the field was seen as particularly useful in our trialling, with 83% of users saying they checked trap data daily.”

More than half the users also found Magic Trap useful in supporting their decision-making. This included decisions around timing of drilling and insecticide applications, recognising use of insecticides is a last resort in an effective IPM approach.

On-farm testing

Independent agronomist and CCC Agronomy technical director Peter Cowlrick trialled a Magic Trap with one of his clients in Hampshire last autumn. He was pleased with the results.

“You can’t be on every farm every day,” he says. “Trying to assess the migration patterns of something like cabbage stem flea beetle is pretty challenging.

“None of us want to use insecticides unless we have to, but we’ve simply got to manage cabbage stem flea beetle larval numbers. What I particularly like about MagicTrap is that it is automated.

“It provided us with images twice a day and flea beetle identification from those images were very accurate, as were the count numbers. Without MagicTrap the decision to spray would have been based more on gut feel.”

Latest survey data

Combined with physical inspection for foliar damage, the remote monitoring supported a decision to apply an insecticide at the four-leaf stage of the crop.

Subsequent flea beetle larvae numbers in the treated crop were low, at 2-3/plant and didn’t impact crop growth, whereas larval infestation numbers were noticeably higher in unsprayed fields on the farm.

Most recent data from underlines the value growers see in having an automatic record of autumn flea beetle levels in their oilseed rape crops, with 87% of respondents regarding this information as valuable and almost half considering it ‘very valuable’.

Now in its fifth year, the study has amassed a wealth of data from some 900 growers and pin 93,500ha of winter oilseed rape, with several key findings set to inform management of going forward.