India is currently facing one of it’s worst locust attacks. Not having faced any locust cycles for the last ten years, India was shocked by the unprecedented arrival of this year’s attack. An essential part of this puzzle is to find the source of the amount of damage they have potentially done to the farms. SkyMap Global is working on using Remote Sensing technology to identify the source and the path these locusts have taken over several weeks. This technology could aid Indian farmers to predict the future of such attacks by using Artificial Intelligence techniques by studying the patterns over the last 10-20 years time frame together with weather and other data types.

Locusts are short-horned grasshoppers in the family Acrididae. They can change their movement pattern easily and can travel in swarms. They can travel 100 to 200 kilometres in a day. Locusts are known to eat its weight in plants each day, and it is said that a small part of an average swarm can eat the same amount of food in one day as 10 elephants, 25 camels or 2500 people. It is known that in March–October 1915, a plague of locusts stripped Ottoman Palestine of almost all vegetation. The significant crop loss caused by swarming desert locusts exacerbates problems of food shortage and is a threat to food security. 

India is dotted with large farms in every state. The owners–farmers–make their living by selling produce grown in these farms. However, now, their very livelihood is being threatened by the arrival of swarms of locusts. So we here at SkyMap Global have taken the initiative to study and help alleviate this critical issue. Firstly, we asked ourselves the most pressing question–HOW can we predict the possible date range and path of future invasions from occurring?

The answer? Using remote-sensing analytics. SkyMapGlobal’s team of experts have developed an Algorithm to track lotus movement and assess damages that have been done during their movement pathing. This can help farmers as it would be easier for farmers to claim back money lost from crops being destroyed. They would be able to show evidence of their loss to the insurance companies, and insurance companies can also verify the damages easily.

Tracking the movement of locusts over a short period of time
Comparing images of two different dates to analyse the reason for locust proliferation

Based on our analytics, we have concluded on the movement patterns of the locusts. In December 2019, locusts entered Barmer district in Rajasthan. They have moved eastward over 30 km, then they have changed direction towards South-east for 34 km. This journey has a duration of about one week. They have stopped at several places. Then, locusts have moved in the southern direction over 58 km. The course changed again toward SSE, and after 20 km, they entered Jalor district. In Jalor, locusts stayed next to a reservoir. After having crossed the area over a length of 24 km, they have moved eastward again, all along the border between Jalor and Banas Kantha district. The images have recorded locusts’ path over 182 km. The corridor of damages is about 5 km wide. The damaging event occurred for two weeks, from 17-02 to 27-02.

SkyMap Global is trying its best to use its resources and remote-sensing specialization skills for the welfare of society. We are working on providing such information to help with the issue of the locust infestation and using past years of data, our team of experts are working on predicting the paths that locusts will take in the future to defuse the issue.

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