Fighting Pesticide Runoff with Data.


Designing an environmentally
friendly delivery system for
pesticides using data




Today, pesticides have become an essential part of agriculture. Almost 6000 million tons of active ingredient is used worldwide every year. Spread equally on our land mass, it will form a 16 mm layer on every bit of land. The London, Ontario city councilhad been contemplating a ban on pesticides but the opposition to the idea was equally intense. This prompted me to study the issue in order to develop a perspective on the severity of the problem and options available other than an outright ban.

The focus in my project was to examine data-centric ways in which pesticides could be delivered to plants in an environmentally friendly manner. This had special relevance in the context of the research finding that almost half of the pesticide runs off the surface of the leaf after application. The runoff contaminates soil and water supplies, and kills terrestrial and aquatic life. The study included more than 10 variables related to plant surfaces, methods of application, and pesticide solutions and almost 5000 trials to quantify their effects. The results were promising and reductions of up to 90% in runoff were achieved by applying simple techniques to customize application for each plant. I also prototyped a Java application which allowed a user to choose a plant and view the specific instructions for optimal retention.

field work | experimentation | modeling | data analysis | Java | Python | SEM analysis