Drones over Texas reveal agricultural damage caused by wild pigs

About 6.9 million wild pigs are in the US, and their population is rising
calendar icon 1 May 2023
clock icon 2 minute read
By: Wiley

Presently, there are an estimated 6.9 million wild pigs (Sus scrofa) in the U.S., which cause over US$1 billion in damage to agriculture, environmental impacts, and control costs. However, estimates of damage have varied widely, creating a need for standardized monitoring and a method to accurately estimate the economic costs of direct wild pig damage to agriculture.  

In new research published in Wildlife Society Bulletin, investigators used drones to capture images of the agricultural damage caused by these animals.

Wild pig damage by trampling plants from ground level during the blister-milk stage (C). Wild pig damage during the dent-mature stage, pictured from the ground (E).

Drones took pictures of corn fields at different growth stages during 36 missions over an agricultural region in Delta County, Texas in 2019–2020.

Most damage occurred in later growth stages, when corn ears were maturing, seed was most nutritious, and producers had already invested in the majority of annual crop inputs.

Wild pigs damaged up to 9.2% of a single monitored field, which resulted in an average loss of 3,416 kg of corn per hectare and a direct cost to producers of $17.18 to $48.24 per hectare of damage.

“Drone technologies are advancing quickly and becoming a more common practice in the wildlife and agricultural industry,” the authors wrote. “Drones can be a great tool for landowners and producers to accurately estimate wild pig damage and crop yield loss, and to receive compensation for their lost income.”

To see drone images of the damage, click here to view the open publication: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wsb.1437

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