Robotic crop pollination awarded $1 million grant

Image of researcher with robotic arms.

(Washington State University) Developing robotic technology for crop pollination is the goal of a new project for Washington State University and Penn State University scientists. Funded by a nearly $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Washington State Department of Agriculture the project will involve looking at models for blossom development, working with camera and machine learning systems, and developing a robotic hand and arm to spread pollen.

Soap bubbles could assist with pollination

Image of soap bubble on flower.

(CNN) Researchers found that a soap bubble solution made with the right surfactant, an optimized pH, calcium, other minerals and chemicals was effective at retaining pollen grains on the thin film of the bubbles, transporting them to the targeted flowers, and facilitating germination. While the fruit-bearing rate of the control group was about 58%, bubble and hand pollination both achieved a rate of around 95%. Soap pollination also called for much fewer pollen grains than other methods did.

Journey to the musical center of the beehive

Image of audio cassettes.

(Modern Farmer) Bioni Samp’s music blends recordings of honey bees buzzing and humming with electronic music. Samp records bees using a digital recorder attached to a special frame he made with microphones. He has managed to isolate the sounds of different bees – queens, drones and workers. The result is a wall of sound, which Samp hopes will make people think about their relationship with nature.

New app helps Wisconsin farmers, researchers track wild bee populations

Image of app interface.

(University of Missouri) Researchers at the University of Missouri discovered that the spiny pollen from a native wild dandelion species in the southern Rocky Mountains has evolved to attach to traveling bumblebees. When compared with the average lawn dandelion, which does not need pollen to reproduce, the researchers saw that the pollen on the lawn dandelion has a shorter distance between these spines, making it harder to attach to traveling pollinators.

Israeli farmers deploy pollinating drones to fill Covid-19 labor shortage

Image of drone flying over date trees.

(The Jerusalem Post) Date farmers located in the Jordan Valley and Arava have deployed an innovative solution to overcome labor shortages caused by the coronavirus outbreak: aerial pollination using drones. The drone operators are Israeli Blue White Robotics and New York-based Dropcopter, who have successfully tested drone-based palm pollination in recent months at the Arava Institute. The experiment at the desert research facility was carried out in response to declining bee populations. Aerial pollination has become increasingly important due to recent flooding in the Jordan Valley, which has prevented ground pollination in many areas.