Locust infestations are a serious threat for agriculture production, regional food security, and the environment. They may cause severe economic damage and hunger crises, destroy farmers’ livelihoods, and produce environmental devastation within large areas. Due to environmental preferences of swarming locust pest species, dryland areas worldwide belong to the most endangered regions. The Italian, the Moroccan, and the Migratory locust species can dramatically jeopardize food security and livelihood in Central Asian countries. Areas which have to be surveyed are large and challenging for local and regional authorities. Additionally, changes in land management practices and land-surface treatment resulted in large number of abandoned fields, which have created preferable conditions for locusts. The risk of agricultural and environmental damage by locusts in the region is very high. From 2006 to 2014 infested areas in Kazakhstan have almost quadrupled. The government of the Republic of Kazakhstan stresses the importance of improved monitoring of dangerous organisms and the need for control of diseases in the “Agribusiness 2020” strategy. In the framework of the Interparliamentary Assembly (IPA), the Committee on Agrarian Politics, Natural Resources and Ecology initiated the work on developing a unified information system on biological hazards (UIS Biohazard) for all CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries, including Kazakhstan. The three locust species mentioned above were included as one of the biohazards. In this context the “Locust-Tec” project which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) aims to contribute with further development in terms of improved and sustainable locust management.
The overall goal of the Locust-Tec project is to contribute to the ongoing process of improvement within the locust management strategy in Kazakhstan. This is tackled by developing multi-disciplinary approaches and close international cooperation between Kazakh and German participants. The project focuses on introducing innovative technologies and environmentally friendly techniques in the areas of locust habitat monitoring, locust outbreak forecast and locust control. Main objectives within the project are:
- Derivation of spatial-temporal information products based on Earth Observation data to assess locust risks, which are essential for development of preventive measures
- Introducing innovative monitoring techniques for locust surveys including remote areas that are difficult to reach on ground
- Development of environmentally friendly locust control methods that are less harmful to man and environment compared to commonly applied measures using insecticides
Innovative locust management in Kazakhstan
Systematic and accurate monitoring and control of locust populations is of critical importance in many parts of the world to prevent locust plagues. Neglect or inefficiency of these tasks often leads to enormous damage to agricultural areas.
On the one hand, the Locust-Tec project aims to create an improvement in the field of prediction of locust plagues as well as in regards to innovative and effective monitoring in Kazakhstan. On the other hand, alternative and environmentally friendly control options are tested. The project methodology is built on three interlinked pillars: (i) risk of locust outbreak, (ii) locust monitoring and (iii) locust control.
Application of innovative methods
Locust-Tec uses satellite and climate data to derive geo-information products on large scale. Generated maps are showing conditions that are relevant for locust hatching in order to predict locust outbreaks. Freely available satellite data are used to develop different approaches for the automatic detection, analysis and evaluation of areas preferred by locusts as well as for the description of habitat conditions. Locust hatching forecast can provide important information for innovative approaches to field-based locust monitoring and for implementation of effective locust control. During field-based monitoring the focus is on data collection with drones, the use of mobile geo data applications and GIS systems. These monitoring techniques are intended to facilitate and improve the work of ground surveying teams during the key development phase of locusts. The improved prognosis and monitoring is expected to facilitate preventive locust counteraction operations as well as the development of preventive control options.
Impact and contribution to sustainability
The innovative locust management technologies which are planned to be implemented will have several environmental, economic and social benefits. The concept is developed using a generic basis so that the transfer to other regions and locust species will be possible.
For further information, please contact:
Igor Klein (Project coordinator)
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Earth Observation Center (EOC)
German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD)