The devastation pests can cause to agricultural crops can end up costing trillions of dollars if spread and left unchecked. For one of North America's largest bell pepper producers, just such a situation ended up costing them over $75 million alone. That's just one farm, so you can see how quickly it could add up. Now, a canine named Chili has been certified to sniff out culprits like the ones decimating Nature Fresh Farms in Ontario.
Most of us have heard of boll weevils, a form of beetle that decimated cotton crops here in the U.S., particularly Georgia, beginning in 1915. When pests like these strike, it has far reaching consequences and can directly effect economies. Well, the pepper weevil seems to be just as destructive, and not only can they not be seen by humans but pesticides only make them reproduce faster.
Chili to the Rescue
Chili is a two-year-old Belgian shepherd that was brought in by Nature Fresh as a last resort for solving the problem. Located in Leamington, Ontario, the farm knew they were going belly up if something wasn't done — and fast! "We were at wits end – we didn’t know what to do,” said Cam Lyons, a pest management scout at Nature Fresh. “And in that desperation, I just got thinking of ‘What can we do that’s different?’ . . . so the idea of a scent detection dog just came to mind.”
Since Chili was employed by Nature Fresh Farms back in July, the greenhouse has had almost no problems with the pesky pepper weevils. Chili just uses her super sniffer to root out where there is an outbreak of the miniscule insects, which in turn allows specialists to quickly quarantine the area where they are discovered and then go ahead and eradicate the pests.
All in a Day's Work
According to Chili's handler, Tina Heide, “Chili is actually really, really good. She’ll usually hit on the smell right away. It’s actually really cool to watch her, because sometimes as soon as she picks it up, she’ll whip around and head straight for it.”
For more information, watch the video below or check out the link for Nature Fresh Farms above.