Dr Lisbeth Riis, founder and CEO at Scarab Solutions, has explained how the cut flower industry can significantly benefit by replicating the principles of digital mapping of pests and diseases to the plants in their greenhouses.
Pest and disease mapping in any environment has far-reaching effects. Thirty years ago, wild poliovirus was present in more than 125 countries and paralysed 350,000 people every year, primarily young children. Now incredibly targeted tracking and mapping efforts, combined with a global immunisation program by Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), have reduced the number of cases by more than 99 per cent, saving more than 13 million children from paralysis.
It seems that while these advanced techniques are now prevalent for human diseases, not enough has changed in the cut flower greenhouses in Africa and Latin America, where a large amount of the world’s cut flowers are grown. Mapping of pests and diseases in horticulture is still often a manual, inaccurate and inefficient process relying on paper-based analysis and individual knowledge.
Typical farmers expect to lose five to 10 per cent of yield to pest and diseases, which is why effective control can greatly increase the number of plants sent for harvest in the first place. Not only do they benefit in terms of the total yield—but they can also better focus staff and resources on the farm and even limit wastage of pesticides and biological control agents.