This pollinator drone may be the solution to declining bee population to pollinate the crops - chaprama | Insights from the world of Technology and Lifestyle


Saturday, February 11, 2017

This pollinator drone may be the solution to declining bee population to pollinate the crops

Scientists at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has developed a drone that carries pollen from one plant to the next as facilitates pollination. Three-quarters of the global crop species depend on bees and insects for pollination. For those that are unaware pollination is needed for the reproduction in plants. Male flower parts are called stamens that produce pollen and fertilize female parts called pistils to produce seed.

This pollinator drone may be the solution to declining bee population to pollinate the crops

There ate two methods of pollination 1) self-pollination and 2) cross-pollination. In self-pollinated crops, stamens shed pollen on the pistils of the same plant. In cross-pollination pollen from one plant is shed on the other plant pistils.This is done by bees and other insects when the bees sit on the stamens of the flower, pollen is stuck to their body surface and when they feed on the flowers of other plants this pollen is carefully shed into pistils. Cross pollination is advantageous over self-pollination as it improves the genetic diversity and improves the quality and quantity of crops.

How does the drone function?

-The drone measures 4 centimeters wide and weighs mere  15 grams
-The bottom of the drone is covered in horsehair coated in a special sticky gel
-The drone is manually controlled and when it flies on a flower the pollen grains are brushed and sticks in the gel.
-These pollen grains are shed when they visit another plant similar to bees.
-During field experiments, the drone successfully pollinated Japanese lilies (Lilium japonica).
-In  the process, the scientists observed that the drone did not damage stamens or pistils when it landed on the flowers

Eijiro Miyako and his team are now working to develop autonomous drones to help farmers pollinate the crops. However,  GPS, high-resolution cameras, and artificial intelligence will be required to accurately carry out the operation. On the other hand Scientist, Saul cunningham from Australian National University in Canberra says the concept is interesting but questioned the economic feasibility of the idea.

“If you think about the almond industry, for example, you have orchards that stretch for kilometers and each individual tree can support 50,000 flowers,” he says. “So the scale of which you would have to operate your robotic pollinators is mind-boggling.”

Cunningham said that they are working on financially viable strategies to combat bee decline.They include reducing the use of pesticides,  breeding self-pollinated crop varieties and using machines to spray pollen on crops.


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