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SMS and Facebook Alert System Reduces Pesticide Use By 30 Percent

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 17 2013

The worm of the coddling moth in an apple (Wikipedia)

Going pesticide-free just isn't an option for many farmers, but overuse is a major cause of pollution. In the Prespa Lake Basin, more than 2,000 species are threatened by the use of pesticides in adjacent towns like Resen, in southwestern Macedonia. Timing the application of pesticides is everything, but with no local media in Resen, it's hard to get the word out to nearby farmers. That's where an information system that uses SMS and Facebook to alert farmers to spray can make a difference.

Eftim Petkovski, the owner of an orchard in Resen, explained his predicament as a farmer:

If we farmers don't spray for them early on, all our livelihoods are at risk. . . Timing is everything with these pests. You've got to predict their migrations – and that can be a matter of hours. Spraying too early or too late is much less effective and a lot more expensive because you need bigger amounts – often as much as three times the quantity. And you can guess what that does to the environment.

The United Nations Development Programme and the Municipality of Resen installed a monitoring system in the area in 2005 to keep tabs on the pest situation. However, even when they pinpointed the ideal time to spray, the only way they could get the information to farmers was on flyers posted around the city square.

Now, any farmer registered with the local Association of Farmers receives a text message when he needs to use pesticides.

The text might read, “Apple trees in the area of the village of Rajca have been infected by the codling moth. The apple trees should be treated in the next 10 days. For more info, visit the Facebook page or call the Association of Farmers.”

More information is available on the Facebook page, like this partial post (translated by Google):

ANNOUNCEMENT NO. 28

Based on the data obtained from [pheromone] baits in regions of Kings Courtyard and Upper Dupeni already exceed the economic threshold of 5-7 butterflies of apple worm over a week after pheromones. And it is recommended in the area of Kings Plot to perform adequate treatment with insecticides (for suppression of apple worm) in the period 21 to 22 July. A region of Gorno Dupeni recommended to perform treatment during the period July 23 to 24. During this period most of the females will lay eggs . . . The suppression of apple worm can be used with insecticides following active substances: Diflubenzuron, Teflubenzuron, Triflumuron, Novaluron, Lufenuron, Flufenoksuron, Spinosad, Tiakloprid and others.

After the new system was implemented, pesticide use in the area dropped by 30 percent.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.