The pandemic brought more problems to the ongoing fight of sustainable farming and keeping up with demand with a shrinking labor force. Due to pandemic restrictions, logically farmers would have to find ways to still carry out routine functions prudent to pecan farming.

How Pecan Farmers Can Mitigate Ambrosia Beetle Attacks in and After This Pandemic
How Pecan Farmers Can Mitigate Ambrosia Beetle Attacks in and After This Pandemic

Q&A with Cash Willis, President/Chief Robotics Engineer | GESAR INC.

Tell Us About GESAR Inc.?

GESAR stands for " Golden Embedded Systems AND Robotics".  We are a leading customised robotics manufacturer located in the state of Georgia specialising in unmanned systems for civilian, tactical and industrial applications. The company was started out of a deep and persistent passion for robotics and unmanned systems.

GESAR provides  autonomous and semi-autonomous robot UGVs (unmanned ground vehicles), tactical tracked UGVs, inspection robots for military and industrial use, unmanned tractors for precision agriculture and VTOL UAS (unmanned aerial systems) for surveillance and emergency response applications. Any situation that calls for an unmanned rugged solution, GESAR is at the forefront - able to provide a solution.


How Has the Pandemic Affected the Fight Against Ambrosia Beetles for Pecan Farmers and Nursery and Landscape Tree Farmers in General?

Pandemic or not- people still need to eat. This does not change with regards to the crops trees produce that are in demand. Being a company located in the beautiful state of Georgia, we know that Pecans are one of the top ten crops that contribute to Georgia's economy annually according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness & Economic Development. There are other states in the U.S that benefit from pecan framing and have a huge demand for this crop.

The pandemic brought more problems to the ongoing fight of sustainable farming and keeping up with demand with a limited and shrinking labor force. Due to pandemic restrictions, logically farmers would have to find ways to still carry out routine functions prudent to  pecan farming.

The problem posed by Ambrosia beetles to pecan trees and mitigating their damage is no different. The pandemic has created a strain on already strained labor force.

Routine spraying must be more efficient within the confines of restrictions. This goes for pecan farmers and other nursery and landscape tree farmers in general. Especially with tight budgets, some farmers may be faced with tight budgets on outsourcing regular and consistent spraying for small or big parcels of land.


Tell Us How the Vole Can Aid in the Fight Against Ambrosia Beetles in This Current Landscape?

Dealing with Ambrosia beetles that plague pecan trees, preventative steps are the best course of action. Especially in the Spring, it's advised by experts that if you have trees 1 to 3 years , you should start spraying pyrethroid on the base of your trees now. In Georgia, with weather at and above 70 degrees,  beetles are sure to be out and about.

The vole is a long range multi-purpose remote controlled tractor. It can be used for hauling , pulling farm implements, spraying attachments. The standard option has a payload of 700 pounds and can be customized to for more weight. The vole comes as tracked or with wheels and can be remote controlled, remote controlled with a camera and semi-autonomous.

Experts like Dr.  Angel Acebes- Dorian suggest effective control of Ambrosia beetles with the following steps:

  • Spray pyrethroid on trunks once / week (maybe 10 days)
  • Mix insecticide in paint and paint tree trunks

The vole is a cost effective solution for this at the price of a used compact tractor.


What kind of spraying can the vole do to combat ambrosia beetles?

With the two preventative steps suggested for ambrosia beetle control, one can logically conclude how labor intensive performing these steps would be in the face of pandemic restrictions. The second step is especially a lot of work. Dr. Dorian reports that trees done the second way had very little attacks all year and it's  a one-time thing.   Paint by itself does nothing to control ambrosia beetles as Dr. Dorian's research shows.

The vole provides the same encompassing spray reach a hand sprayer would provide but more efficient. The vole sprayer will be able to cover all of the trunk. This type of spraying is superior to air blast spraying because ambrosia beetles are bad about getting into herbicide guards. The key is having a concentrated spray.

The vole is efficient in spraying and able to deal with the shortage in labor. Any option(RC or semi-autonomous) can benefit the pecan farmer.


Where do you see unmanned systems for agriculture from GESAR in the future solving critical issues for farmers?

Lord willing, GESAR INC. will continue to stay at the forefront of meeting farmer's needs in their efforts to feed an ever-growing population with cost effective and user friendly unmanned systems adapting to and utilizing technology of the times.




About Cash Willis, President/Chief Robotics Engineer , GESAR INC.
Cash Willis is a McNair Scholar and NSF STEM scholar that launched his own unmanned systems/custom robotics company to solve problems. GESAR INC. is an innovative customer focused company. We are only interested in practical robotics that benefit our customers. Cash Willis is responsible for translating customer needs into working solutions utilizing GESAR INC's capabilities.


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AgriTechTomorrow

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