Design Engineering
Showcase 2020

NocTurn: Bat-Friendly Farming

Elijah Ko, Alisa Koegel & Yuying Zhang
Innovation Design Engineering
Breaking Barriers

Let's save the environment by partnering bats and farmers! NocTurn is an "agro-bat" system that leverages the overlapping bioindicators and pest-controlling mechanisms of bats. We have designed smart bat-detectors and home indicators for farmers to elaborate on the bats’ impact on their farms both economically and ecologically. Why not champion farmers as environmental changers?

A Billion Dollars Conservation Problem

Bats, the ecosystem bioindicators, are essential to agricultural and pastoral practices, they are being lost in the scene and farmers are being blamed.

Bats are keystone species, having a disproportionately large responsibility to the ecosystem they live in. Their role is vital to sustaining life within the environmental bubble and no other singular nor collective species would be able to compensate for their lost function upon extinction. Ecosystem service they provide includes pollination, seed dispersal, and pest control. From the agricultural perspective, the diet of bats consists of pests that largely overlap with the problematic species attacking crop harvest. The economic value of bats’ nontoxic pest-control services in agriculture is estimated at $3.7 to $53 billion per year. However, we are losing them. Many of the 1,300 species of bat are considered to be threatened and declining. One of the main reasons is the loss of habitats.

Farmlands are potential to provide good habitat for bats, but how to incentivise and let farmers be aware of the underlying values? Farmers are criticised for the damage they cause towards the environment, often headlining their use of chemical agents like insecticides and fertilisers. Yet what doesn't get celebrated is their efforts into feeding and sustaining the nation. In current harvest-focused agricultural practices, it is difficult for farmers to recognize how their efforts towards the environment could effectively impact their yield.

NocTurn's Solution

The project aims to champion farmers as environmental changers. Empowering them to diversify the species in their landscape through targeting bats and leveraging their function as bioindicators to bridge the information gap between farmer’s efforts and impact on harvest.

Bat Detector

  1. Identification. An ultrasonic microphone is used to tether it’s captured files and a sound-based machine learning algorithm is used to identify bat species.
  2. Counting. Existing bat detectors only pick-up the loudest and proximal sound, they don't always capture effective count numbers. Using infrared cameras, we adopt computer vision and A.I. technology to compensate for the counting.

Collected data is automatically synthesised on the cloud and fed back into the farmer’s home indicator and their mobile application.

 — NocTurn: Bat-Friendly Farming
Bat detector.

Bat Indicator

Night shift. Farmers rest, bats work. Our indicator is the farmer’s home accessories. It doesn’t need to be fully attended but serves as a poetic reminder of the bats’ efforts through time. Concept ideas include mechanical wings that flap upon data received. It aims to build an emotional rapport between farmers and bats.

 — NocTurn: Bat-Friendly Farming
Bat indicator.

Mobile App

The app enables access to more pieces of data and guides farmers on further work they can get into for more impact. It shares images of peak moments in the night and allows users to listen to the bats on their farms, which fascinates and a personal win comes from seeing your own. It also keeps a comprehensive log of past days.

 — NocTurn: Bat-Friendly Farming
Mobile app.
 — NocTurn: Bat-Friendly Farming
System overview.


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