RapidAIM: Game-changing pest management for agriculture

What if pests could be spotted and suppressed before they become a problem for farmers?

We met Dr Nancy Schellhorn, Laura Jones, and Darren Moore two years ago during the CSIRO ON Accelerator program where they began their journey out of the labs at CSIRO into the farms of Planet Earth. Since then, we have supported the team while they get ‘venture ready’ and now we are delighted to announce our investment in this terrific #deeptech team.

Nancy, Darren and Laura!

A Problem to be Solved

Ten percent of food production does not make it to the table due to pests. 900M tons ($15B) of insecticide is used each year — 98% of which does not reach the intended target.

Growers need to know where and when to apply insecticide and today’s methods are manual, slow and burdensome.

Imagine what it takes to check these by hand…

Additionally, there is a biosecurity issue with regulators needing better ways to prevent the exportation of infested produce. With fruit fly as an example, $18B of trade is threatened each year in the US.

The RapidAIM Solution

RapidAIM has developed a ‘sensor grid’ that lures specific insects into a trap (example below), where software detects the pests through analysis of their movement and alerts growers and agronomists.

The platform has been demonstrated in field trials and shows ~1% false negatives and few false positives.

The platform is expandable to add new data layers for different pests and more insights using higher resolution sensor grids.

We like to think of the platform as a ‘Bureau of Meteorology for Pests’. As RapidAIM scales out, growers across the world will be able to look at their phones and instantly see ‘pest storms’ incoming and enabling them to take action before big problems set in.

The first layer is focused on fruit fly with a new layer launching this year to focus on corn root worm.

Why Now?

To feed 10B people in the decades to come, growers must increase their yield with as little waste as possible and economics that are competitive. The agtech market is rising to the challenge with some great innovation coming out of the labs and farms with increased activity on the investor and enterprise M&A front.

Companies like Flurosat (a Main Sequence portfolio company) are doing this by using data to better target water and fertiliser delivery but few companies are addressing the problem of pests. With this world-leading team of scientists, RapidAIM is poised to lead the market in automated early pest detection and suppression.

Progress

In a recent trial in Shepparton, Victoria across 26 properties, RapidAIM demonstrated the following value to Australian agriculture in fruit fly alone:

  • 30–50% decrease in lost fruit amounting to increase in fruit to market valued at up to $5M
  • 7 fold reduction in labour worth $6.7M to Australian government agencies
  • Avoid $11M worth of fruit fly damaged fruit

RapidAIM is currently trialing their v2 sensor grid in Australia and the US.

The first version used camera technology to detect fruit fly and this has since been replaced with next-generation lures to better attract the insects and new sensor technology that conductively ‘feels’ the insects, demonstrating better efficiencies and more accurate detection.

We believe that RapidAIM can become the world leader in pest management across global agriculture and can’t wait to see what happens next.