For centuries, the connection between humans and dogs went beyond the boundaries of friendship. Service dogs can be found in various fields – guiding the visually impaired or alerting those with hearing impairments, detecting sugar instability, finding narcotics, searching and rescuing in mass event disasters such as earthquakes and many more.
However, it does not end there. In agriculture, dogs are now used to assist farmers in dealing with pests and diseases that cause significant crop damage and financial losses. Unlike traditional pest and disease control methods, which use pesticides and other damaging substances that may harm the environment, farmers, and animal welfare, dogs are a more natural and environmentally friendly option.
Follow the Nose
Generally, detection dogs have proven their ability to find various insects of medical or phytosanitary importance, such as bed bugs, fire ants, or the red palm weevil. Studies have shown that trained service dogs can also detect pests and diseases at an early stage. For instance, trained dogs can detect the presence of the Emerald Ash Borer, one of the USA’s most destructive non-native insect pests.
Dogs can detect beetles just by smelling the scent of the larvae, which is only detectable by humans once there is significant damage. to the trees. This early detection allows farmers to take necessary action to protect their crops and prevent the spread of pests.
Service dogs are trained to detect plant diseases such as citrus greening, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB). This bacterial disease is one of the most severe threats to the global citrus industry, causing billions of dollars in yearly damage, and has already caused significant damage to citrus crops in Florida, USA.
The training is like that of explosives sniffing dogs, in which the dogs are taught to recognise a particular smell and to sit down next to the source once found. However, their training is more extensive and specific because the dogs are taught to detect bacteria infecting a plant, a very complex smell.
Cost-Effective and Eco-Friendly
In addition to being efficient in their work, dogs are also cost-effective for farmers. Although they require training and maintenance, service dogs eliminate the need for expensive chemicals and pesticides, making them cost-efficient in the long term.
Trained service dogs learn to stay with the scent of the target substance without getting distracted by the sight or scent of other animals. During training, the dogs learn to be non-invasive, non-aggressive and ignore wildlife in the field, making them eco-friendly for farmers and other animals.
It is safe to say that with their superior sense of smell and natural abilities, service dogs are helping farmers, ultimately contributing to the sustainability of the agriculture industry.