Pollination of cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.) in Ghana (Kintampo, Bono East region)
Optimising crop production yields relies on close monitoring of soil nutrition and pests and diseases so that adequate farming practices can be employed, however biotic pollination, while just as fundamental to production, is not subject to such analysis.
Using the experience and technology developed for monitoring honey bees at the hives, this study was conducted to evaluate sensor’s application for in-field pollinator activity measurement in cashew nut trees. Cashew nut in West Africa is thought to suffer loss of production which could possibly be related to the pollination deficit.
Data on pollinator diversity was collected by observation during the period of 10-15 January 2021. A variety of insect taxa were found to be visiting cashew flowers (photo below). Using the modified in-hive sensor, sound files for most frequent visitors were recorded. Our aim is to develop a recognition system, based on the acoustics, that distinguishes different pollinator taxa visiting the flowers as well as frequency of their visits.
Automation of collection and recognition systems would allow us to quantify both the diversity and density of crop pollinators throughout the pollination cycle. This in turn would add a valuable metric to the real time foraging activity data which is being output by the bee counter. Ultimately, these metrics will be integrated into the digital pollination service offering by Beehero.
Sensor placement on the cashew flower panicle and most frequent visitors to cashew
flowers (clockwise from top left: honey bee, stingless bee, fly, solitary bee, ant, hover fly)
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