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25 October, 2017 - 15:28 By Kate Sweeney

Company cherry picked to fight threat to soft fruit growers

Solid Spark Drosophila fly

A Cambridge company seeking to improve the detection of insects for soft fruit and cherry growers has received almost £60,000 in matched R & D grant funding from the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP’s Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative.

Solid Spark Ltd has been working on a solution to detect the presence of insects, including the incredibly destructive Spotted Wing Drosophila fly in soft fruit.

This species of fly is particularly invasive in soft and stoned fruit growing, where its ability to target unblemished fruit makes it particularly damaging. If left uncontrolled growers risk losing their entire crop, with huge consequences in terms of business profitability and job security.

Current methods of detection are renowned for being inaccurate as well as both costly and labour intensive. Growers in the UK lose on average between £20 million and £40m as a direct result of insect infestation, with growers in the East of England particularly effected.

The team applied for a Research & Development grant from the Eastern Agri-Tech Grant Initiative. The £58,127 grant will be used to catalyse the development of an automatic  electromagnetic insect detection system.

An internet connection will ensure that stakeholders are alerted early, helping to keep on top of any potential issues before they become costly problems that threaten jobs. 

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