A UF/IFAS precision agriculture engineer has developed a new psyllid detection system for detecting Asian citrus psyllids.

Florida citrus growers need to keep an accurate count of the Asian citrus psyllids—the insect vector for citrus greening, also called HLB—in their groves to focus foliar sprays and other citrus greening management efforts. It’s a time-consuming effort, but one UF/IFAS researcher, Yiannis Ampatzidis, has developed a new psyllid detection system using artificial intelligence (AI) that will make it easier, according to a UF/IFAS blog about the system. Read the details below.

Details of the AI Psyllid Detection System

Ampatzidis, a precision agriculture engineer and assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering with UF/IFAS, maintains that knowing about psyllid populations is an important issue for citrus growers, which his psyllid detection system will handle. “Monitoring the psyllid population is an essential component of citrus-greening management,” he said in the blog.

Currently, citrus growers monitor psyllid populations by knocking the psyllids off a branch onto a piece of paper and counting them, according to the blog; it’s called the “tap sample method, and it takes a considerable amount of time and labor.” Ampatzidis’s robot will complete this task. “We automated the tap sample method, utilizing machine vision and artificial intelligence. The system could be a great way to automate scouting procedures in citrus and could be extended to other crop insects.”

The machine completes the tap sample and then utilizes photography and an AI-based algorithm to detect and count the psyllids captured. “The AI-based software can detect and distinguish Asian citrus psyllids from other insects and debris,” Ampatzidis said in the blog. With 90% accuracy, Ampatzidis maintained that “The data from each tree can be used to generate maps compatible with precision equipment for variable rate application in order to apply the right amount of pesticides only where needed, and hence, decrease agro-chemical use and expenses, and reduce environmental impact.”