Academic Venture Fund - 2018

Sounds of Soil

Maxwell Helmberger - A woodlouse is seen through a dissecting microscope

Root-feeding insects reduce belowground plant productivity and disrupt soil carbon cycling, ultimately eroding plant and soil health. Current methods for monitoring these insects are time-consuming, cost-prohibitive and often unreliable. Researchers will develop inexpensive acoustic sensors to detect, monitor and characterize populations of soil-dwelling organisms, distinguishing them from other complex sources of acoustic signals belowground, while also assessing overall soil health. The result will be a reliable method for pest monitoring that is accessible and profitable to farmers, leading to more judicious pesticide use and enhanced agricultural sustainability and food security.

Investigators: Kyle Wickings, Holger Klinck, Johannes Lehmann, Greg McLaskey