M3 Desert Cardinal UAS
Release of Sterile Pink Bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) Over Cotton in Arizona
WITH: CPHST S&T PHOENIX LAB
DATE: MAY - AUGUST, 2015
The following research was conducted in cooperation with USDA-APHIS-PPQ-CPHST S&T Phoenix Lab in support of the Pink Bollworm Eradication Program. USDA-APHIS is committed to responding to the reemergence / reintroduction of pink bollworm into the United States as a part of its active role within the Pink Bollworm Eradication Program. Due to the success of the USDA's Pink Bollworm Eradication Program, the program has entered the confirmation of eradication stage.
Continued survey, ongoing maintenance of the PBW mass-reared colony (100,000 sterile moths/day available in seven days and 1.5 million/day available in 30 days), highly focused releases, are key parts of the response procedure to prevent reinfestation of this costly pest. The National Cotton Council and Arizona Cotton Research and Protection Council asked CPHST to develop risk mitigation technologies, including the investigation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems as a rapid response tool.
The USDA has relied on manned aircraft to release sterile pink bollworm since the 1970's, with significant advancement and accomplishment achieved between the 1970's to present. The use of manned aircraft, however, presents a significant cost to the Pink Bollworm Eradication Program, which is primarily grower funded, and as a result, the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems was explored in an operational field study during the summer of 2015 to assess the effacacy of the handling, transport and release of sterile pink bollworm via UAS.
The M3 Desert Cardinal UAS was successfully deployed to release sterile pink bollworm in Arizona over cotton in support of the Pink Bollworm Eradication Program. The UAS released approxmately 120,000 sterile pink bollworm per day, three times a week over 480 acres of cotton and successfully completed over 100 flights during its first operational deployment.
The M3 Desert Cardinal UAS provides a low cost, safe and effective alternative to manned aircraft operations for the release of sterile pink bollworm in support of the Pink Bollworm Eradication Program. As a result of this research, USDA-APHIS-PPQ-CPHST S&T Phoenix Lab in cooperation with M3 Consulting Group will test the efficacy of a Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) UAS to release sterile pink bollworm over cotton in Arizona and compare the VTOL method to the next generation M3 Hummingbird fixed wing UAS. In addition to the release of sterile pink bollworm, M3 Consulting Group, the United States Department of Agriculture, Okanagan Kootenay Sterile Insect Release Program and the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research will assess the viability of sterile insect release via UAS with the navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella) and codling moth (Cydia pomonella).