THE hi-tech power of the internet of things (IoT) is being used to tackle pine weevils which can destroy the pine and spruce trees that are crucial for the softwood timber market, saving the forestry sector at least £5 million annually.

The IoT system is being created by a consortium comprising Welsh pest management company Sentomol, Forest Research, the research arm of the Forestry Commission, the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich, and CENSIS, Scotland’s innovation centre for sensing, imaging systems, and IoT technologies.

David Loughlin, director at Sentomol, said: “Pine weevils are a big problem for Scotland’s forests but the options for managing them have been few and heavily chemical pesticide dependent.”

The IoT approach replaces the old system by attracting weevils into insect traps, known as Hylopods, while a camera using machine vision and artificial intelligence techniques, counts the insects and provides an alert through an IoT network linked to a decision support system to determine the threat level.

Roger Moore, senior research scientist at Forest Research, added: “We do not want to use insecticides and this system will give us the information we need to manage the pine weevil problem as efficiently as possible."

Stephen Milne, director of strategic projects at CENSIS, said: “This system brings together edge-based computing with machine vision and IoT to provide a low-cost remote monitoring capability that can help forestry professionals make more informed decisions.

“Most importantly, it is solving an important real-world problem that affects not only Scotland, where the Scottish Government has set ambitious targets for re-foresting land and growing forestry’s importance to the economy, but also to the wider UK and Europe.

CENSIS’s host institution and administrative hub is the University of Glasgow and this, its 300th project, brings the total value of its projects to £64m.