Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) has developed the world’s first automated detection system which can detect and track bagworms species of Metisa plana, a leaf eating insect species that attacks oil palms.
A moderate infestation will result in about 43% yield loss, if not treated. MPOB’s data in 2016 revealed that the economic loss due to bagworm attacks was around RM24 million. It is an offence if the bagworms are not controlled and the plantation owner can be penalised under the Plant Quarantine Act 1976.
The invention by MPOB’s researchers, led by Mohd Najib Ahmad, called Automated Bagworm Counter or in short Oto-BaCTM, uses a camera and deep learning algorithms developed by the team which consist of motion-tracking and false colour analysis to detect the living and dead larvae and pupae of bagworms.
Oto-BaCTM is also able to count the number of living and dead larvae and pupae population per frond and classify them into the larval and pupal stages.
The device, the first innovation ever in the oil palm industry provides accurate, real time data collection and user-friendly system for detecting and counting bagworms on the palm leaflets. It can minimise human error in census and promote precision agriculture practice.
By integrating machine vision technique and image processing algorithms, the device can be effectively used by the planters to monitor bagworm population in their plantations. Hence, the technology can reduce the loss of fresh fruit bunches yield. The use of Oto-BaCTM technology can also be expanded to other insect pests in oil palm plantations. Oto-BaCTM is essential as it would greatly benefit growers in terms of oil palm protection. By using Oto-BaCTM, control actions can be planned and the exact stages of larvae can be detected. Thus, it can reduce the cost of pesticide supply for the oil palm plantations. Additionally, the device can help solve the labour shortage problem and minimise the time spent for census.
Oto-BaCTM, which was launched at the MPOB Transfer of Technology Seminar 2020 recently, won a Silver Medal at the Malaysia Technology Expo 2020, held in Kuala Lumpur.
Industry players and entrepreneurs are encouraged to commercialise Oto-BaCTM as it can be utilised in performing bagworm census in the oil palm plantations.