satellitrsatellite-map-of-nepalLANTANA 1

The symposium, “Remote sensing and machine learning for determination of spatio-temporal distribution of invasive species will be presented at the International Plant Protection Congress (IPPC) 2019, 10-14 November 2019 at Hyderabad, India. This symposium will address the movement of invasive weeds in Nepal using modern technology including satellite images.

For details and registration go to:   http://www.ippc2019.icrisat.org

For symposium information please contact Dr. R. Muniappan at: rmuni@vt.edu

“Remote sensing and machine learning for determination of spatio-temporal distribution of invasive species”.

  1. Modern AI techniques. Aniruddha Adiga et al.
  2. Spatial distribution of Lantana camara in CHAL area, Nepal using satellite imageries. Sandeep Dhakal, B,B, Shrestha, P.K. Jha, K. Poudel, et al.
  3. Spatial distribution of an invasive weed Ageratina adenophora in CHAL, using knowledge based approach. Anju Sharma paudel, et al.
  4. Spatial distribution of an invasive weed Chromolaena odorata in CHAL, Nepal using knowledge based approach. S. Gyawali, A. Devkota, P.K. Jha, et al.
  5. Mapping the distribution of invasive alien plant Parthenium hysterophorus in CHAL, Nepal using knowledge based approach. Seerjana Maharjanet al.









The symposium, “Management of the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frujiperda will be presented at the International Plant Protection Congress (IPPC) 2019, 10-14 November 2019 at Hyderabad, India.

For details and registration go to:   http://www.ippc2019.icrisat.org

For the FAW symposium information please contact Dr. R. Muniappan at: rmuni@vt.edu

ippc 2019 banner

  1. Role of USAID in Management of Fall Armyworm. John Bowman, and R. Muniappan.
  2. Fall Armyworm in Cambodia: Surveillance, Detection and Response. Buyung Hadi.
  3. The Fall Armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith): Status and Management Options in Nepal. Lalit Prasad Sah, Ditya Lamichhaney, Luke A. Colavito, George Norton, and R. Muniappan.
  4. Push-Pull Farming System Controls Fall Armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda: A Lesson from Africa. Zeyaur Khan, Charles Midega, and Jimmy Pittchar.
  5. Management of Spodoptera frugiperda with Semiochemicals. Markandeya Gorontla, Rafael Borges, Jesse Saroli, Rubem Machota, Ligia Bortoli, and Rodrigo Silva.
  6. Effectiveness of Locally Recruited Egg Parasitoids against the Fall Armyworm in Sorghum in Africa. N. Ba, A. Lamine. L. Karimoune, A. Doumma, and R. Muniappan.
  7. Assessment of Bio-Pesticides Against Fall Armyworm. Yubak Dhoj GC., Kiran Ghimire, and Arun GC.
  8. Bio-Pesticides and Farmer Scouting for Fall Armyworm Management. Tamo, G. Tepa-Yotto, G. Goergen, O.K. Douro-Kpindou, and K. Fiaboe.
  9. Tailoring IPM Technologies Against Fall Armyworm for the Small-Scale Maize Production Systems Agro-Ecologies in Africa. K.M. Fiaboe, G. Tepa-Yotto, M. Tamo, P. Chinwada, G. Goergan, S. Ajala, D. Chikoye, R. Djouaka, A. Togola, A. Fotso-Kuate, A. Abang, and M.G. Saethre.
  10. Towards Developing IPM Options for Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) in maize in Africa: Current Status and Prospects. Tadele Tefera, Birhanu Sisay, Josephine Simiyu, and Esayas Mendesil.



The symposium “Management of the South American tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta” will be presented at the International Plant Protection Congress (IPPC) 2019, 10-14 November 2019 at Hyderabad, India.

For details and registration go to:   http://www.ippc2019.icrisat.org

ippc 2019 banner

tuta larva on tomato (2)        tuta absoluta

Management of the South American tomato leafminer Tuta absoluta

  1. Role of IPM Innovation Lab in Management of Tuta absoluta. R. Muniappan, and John Bowman.


  1. Understanding the Multi-Pathway Spread of Agricultural pests: Challenges, Network Models and Results. Abhijin Adiga.


  1. Invasion risk of south American Tomato pinworm Tuta absoluta (Myrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in India: Predictions based on MaxEnt Ecological Niche Modelling. Babashaheb B. Fend, P.R. Shashank, Sachin S. Suroshe, K. Chandrashekar, Naresh M. Meshram, and Timmanna.


  1. MicroRNA profiling on Different Developmental Stages of the South American tomato Leafminer, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick). R. Asokan, and R. Ellango.
  2. dsRNA Mediated Silencing of Vauolar-type H+ -ATPase B gene of the South American Tomato Leafminer, Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). G. Ramkumar, R. Asokan, and R. Ellango.


  1. Screening of Native Bacillus thuringiensis Isolates and Cry1l Against Tomato Leafminer Tuta absoluta (Meyrick 1917) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). R. Asokan, and H. Mahadevaswamy.


  1. Distribution of Genetic Diversity of Indian Tuta absoluta Populations in Relation to the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) and Wolbachia Based Technologies. Ashok B. Hadapad and Ramesh s. Hire.


  1. Effective Management of Tuta absoluta with Semiochemicals. Agenor Mafra-Neto, Markandeya Gorantla, Rafael Borges, Jesse Saroli, Rubem Machota, Ligia Bortoli, and Rodrigo Silva.


  1. Nanomatrix for Delivery of South American Tomato Moth, Tuta absoluta (Meyrich) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) Pheromone. K. Subhaharan, M. Eswarmoorthy, T.M. Vinay, N. Bakthavatsalam, and M. Mohan.


  1. Integrated Management of Tuta absoluta in India. V. Sridhar.


  1. Management of Tuta absoluta in Bangladesh. Md. Shahadath Hossain.


  1. Management of the South American Tomato Leafminer , Tuta absoluta on Tomato in Nepal. Lalit Sah, L. Colavito, G. Norton, and R. Muniappan.


For information please contact Dr. R. Muniappan at: rmuni@vt.edu




business times

China’s small farmers struggle to stop destructive march of the armyworm

Menghai, China

YAN Wenliu leans on the side of his cart as he prepares to leave his sugarcane field in south-west China, bewildered by the formidable new pest that has ambushed his crops this year.

“I don’t know what it is,” said Mr Yan, a 36-year-old farmer from Menghai county in Yunnan province. “But it is bigger than other ones. I have never seen this worm before.”

The creature he is unable to name is the fall armyworm, the larva of the fall armyworm moth. Known locally as the “heart-devouring worm,” the destructive pest has spread more than 3,000 km north since migrating from neighbouring Myanmar seven months ago, reaching 21 provinces and regions in China and posing a grave threat to grain output.

In Yunnan alone, where the pest struck first in China, some 86,000 hectares had been affected by mid-June, including corn, sugarcane, sorghum and ginger crops.

First found in the Americas, fall armyworm has spread through Africa and Asia since 2016, with the moths flying up to 100 km a night. It can’t be eradicated and its management is both costly and difficult.

This poses a formidable challenge in China where about 90 per cent of crop production comes from small farms of less than a hectare and owners lack basic knowledge and resources to tackle the pest.

Beijing warned earlier this year that armyworm was a severe threat to the country’s food security and in May launched a campaign to “snatch grain from the insect’s mouth”.

Millions of yuan have been allocated to affected regions and experts sent to educate farmers.

In Yunnan, the government has set up 3,500 monitoring sites at local agriculture bureaus and conducted frequent field inspections, the provincial agriculture bureau said in an e-mail to Reuters. Local authorities have also provided training to farmers and pesticide dealers on identification and prevention of armyworm, the bureau added.

To those in Yunnan, the solution to the worm problem seemed obvious – pesticide. “You have to keep spraying chemicals. If you don’t kill the worm, you will end up penniless,” said Mr Yan.

But paying for the pesticide in the quantities required has left many farmers out of pocket, while a failure to follow the complex regime needed – using different pesticides at different crop growth stages and rotating them to prevent resistance – means the money is often wasted.

“You just can’t kill them,” says Yan Hannen, a 44-year-old farmer, from nearby Nuodong. “I have been farming for 20 years but have never seen this many worms.”

He applied pesticides fives times to his last crop of sweet corn, but output nearly halved. He has already sprayed his new crop twice, to little effect. “They told me to use one bucket but I used three. It still did not work. What can you do?” he asked.

Local government has held many meetings to brief farmers on the pest and villagers have improved their approach to using pesticides, said Yan Xiangwa, a village official in Nuo-dong.

But for farmers who have already battled severe drought this year, the latest threat has put their entire livelihoods at risk.

Villagers tend to give up treatment due to the high cost, the Yunnan provincial government said in a report last month, adding that sufficient human resources for plant protection were also lacking at the local level.

Yu Xianger, another Nuodong farmer, sprayed pesticide on her corn field without results and is thinking about finding work in the city.

“The worms have devastated my corn crops this year. And there’s nothing much else I can do,” she said.

Experts say the fight against armyworms is difficult and the enemy is a tough one. Adept at hiding, the pest is hard to detect and prefers to venture out at night, to feast on plants and fly to new pastures.

The villagers’ slow response to the arrival of armyworm was not helped by the absence of a trapping system involving lights and pheromones that Beijing says is currently being deployed nationwide.

The Yunnan agriculture bureau says it has set up more than 30,000 such trapping systems in the province and is continuously carrying out preventive measures and treatment against the pest, involving chemicals and natural enemies.

While some villages have been badly affected, the government says the province as a whole has been managing the problem.

The damage has been “effectively controlled” in Yunnan, with total corn crop losses limited to within 5 per cent, it said in the e-mail. This year’s summer grain output in Yunnan increased by 16,200 tonnes from the previous year, the bureau said, citing official statistics.

Despite the problems in the country’s south, the outlook for China’s main corn production area in the north is “much better,” says Hu Gao, professor of insect ecology at Nanjing Agricultural University.

Control and prevention measures have given the region, which accounts for more than 70 per cent of China’s corn production, more time to prepare for an invasion.

The worm has yet to reach the north-eastern provinces including Heilongjiang, the top grower of the grain, and some experts believe the lower temperatures in the region will protect it from a full attack. REUTERS



Inovative surveillance technique gives vital time needed to track a cereal killer – Scientists have created a new mobile surveillance technique to rapidly diagnose one of agriculture’s oldest enemies: wheat rusts

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Norwich, United Kingdom
August 13, 2019


Using a hand-held DNA sequencing device, they can define the precise strain of the wheat rust fungus in a farmer’s field within just 48 hours of collecting samples. This gives researchers worldwide vital time needed to spot and control emerging epidemics.

The wheat rust fungi have threatened wheat production almost since the dawn of agriculture and harvests in all major wheat growing areas worldwide remain under threat. The best defence is to grow wheat varieties resistant to infection, but over time, new strains of rust develop that lead to new epidemics. The best way to stay ahead of the rusts is to quickly identify and track the disease in the field.

The paper; ‘MARPLE, a point-of-care, strain-level disease diagnostics and surveillance tool for complex fungal pathogens‘ in BMC Biology shows how a research partnership reduced the speed of diagnostics from many months in high-end labs, to just 2 days from the side of an Ethiopian field. “Knowing which strain you have, is critical information that can be incorporated into early warning systems and results in more effective control of disease outbreaks in farmer’s fields” said Dr Dave Hodson, a rust pathologist at CIMMYT in Ethiopia and co-author.

“The challenge is that tracking the wheat rusts is not as simple as you would expect. There are many different strains, all with unique characteristics that cannot be told apart without lengthy in-lab tests. Consequently, identifying which ones are a threat can take many, many months, likely by which time the infection has spread.” said Dr Diane Saunders, lead author and Group Leader at the John Innes Centre.

The new MARPLE (Mobile And Real-time PLant disEase) diagnostic platform the researchers created, targets parts of the rust genetic code that can be sequenced on the portable MinION sequencing platform from Oxford Nanopore. “This helps us tell strains apart and quickly recognise those we’ve seen before or spot new ones that could be a new threat.” said first author Dr Guru Radhakrishnan from the John Innes Centre.

“What started as a proof of concept is now already being used in the field,’ said Dr Saunders, “this development will enable increased surveillance of crop disease pressure and more targeted control.”

Part of the challenge for wheat farmers is that they are in a constant game of cat and mouse with the disease. Knowing which wheat rust strains are in the local area can feed into advising which wheat varieties are safest to grow.

“Finally, with this project we can bring the latest technology to field sites to inform not just the researchers but also the farmers,” said Tadessa Daba, Director, Agricultural Biotechnology Research Directorate, EIAR.

Saving time is not the only benefit, the MARPLE diagnostics method can also be carried out anywhere. Previously if researchers at field sites wanted to test a suspected infected sample, they would have to ship it to a handful of specialist labs frequently overseas.

The MARPLE diagnostics method was formulated to operate directly in the field. This in itself can be challenging with intermittent electricity, no internet access in remote locations and a lack of refrigeration for lab reagents. Yet, if the pipeline was to function at these research stations, it needed to work despite these barriers.

The new platform takes protocols that normally require a lot of equipment and expertise and brings it to a level where you require less facilities or specialist knowledge.

“We’ve tried to make as few cold chain elements as possible”, said PhD student and co-author Nicola Cook, “with simple steps that you can perform with chemicals that are readily available locally,”

This combined speed and self-reliance allows in-country research groups to coordinate more closely with government ministries and national breeding programs which work to protect the local farmers.

As a proof of principle, the entire platform from field sample to strain level result was conducted in Holeta, Ethiopia in September last year. The research group demonstrated the MARPLE diagnostics pipeline operating successfully beside a wheat field, from the back of a Landcruiser.

“I’m really highly impressed with this project,” said Tesfaye Disasa, Director of Biosciences Institute, EIAR, “it introduces new technology into the country as well as the capacity building it brings to the institute.”

For their work on creating the MARPLE platform, the team were awarded Innovator of the Year award for international impact from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council in May this year. Following this award and through the support of the CGIAR Inspire challenge and the Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat Project, a further four field stations across Ethiopia will be setup to use the MARPLE mobile lab.

“This is real national and international work that ultimately helps the resource-poor farmers” said Dr Badada Girima, Rust Pathologist, Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat program.

The paper outlines the steps that were taken to deliver this combined computational and experimental framework. It is hoped that by publishing this process, similar surveillance methods could be developed for other complex fungal pathogens that pose threats to plant, animal and human health.

The MARPLE diagnostics project was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and CGIAR Big Data Platform Inspire Challenge.Communication support was provided by the BBSRC Excellence with Impact Award to John Innes Centre and the Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat Project led by Cornell University International Programs that is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda & Gates Foundation.

More news from: John Innes Center

Website: http://www.jic.bbsrc.ac.uk

Published: August 13, 2019

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science daily

Artificial intelligence helps banana growers protect the world’s most favorite fruit

August 12, 2019
International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
Using artificial intelligence, scientists created an easy-to-use tool to detect banana diseases and pests. With an average 90 percent success rate in detecting a pest or a disease, the tool can help farmers avoid millions of dollars in losses.

Bananas (stock image).
Credit: © Worawut / Adobe Stock

Artificial intelligence-powered tools are rapidly becoming more accessible, including for people in the more remote corners of the globe. This is good news for smallholder farmers, who can use handheld technologies to run their farms more efficiently, linking them to markets, extension workers, satellite images, and climate information. The technology is also becoming a first line of defense against crop diseases and pests that can potentially destroy their harvests.

A new smartphone tool developed for banana farmers scans plants for signs of five major diseases and one common pest. In testing in Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Benin, China, and Uganda, the tool provided a 90 percent successful detection rate. This work is a step towards creating a satellite-powered, globally connected network to control disease and pest outbreaks, say the researchers who developed the technology. The findings were published this week in the journal Plant Methods.

“Farmers around the world struggle to defend their crops from pests and diseases,” said Michael Selvaraj, the lead author, who developed the tool with colleagues from Bioversity International in Africa. “There is very little data on banana pests and diseases for low-income countries, but an AI tool such as this one offers an opportunity to improve crop surveillance, fast-track control and mitigation efforts, and help farmers to prevent production losses.”

Co-authors included researchers from India’s Imayam Institute of Agriculture and Technology (IIAT), and Texas A&M University.

Bananas are the world’s most popular fruit and with the global population set to reach 10 billion in 2050, pressure is mounting to produce sufficient food. Many countries will continue depending on international trade to ensure their food security. It is estimated that by 2050 developing countries’ net imports of cereals will more than double from 135 million metric tonnes in 2008/09 to 300 million in 2050. An essential staple food for many families, bananas are a crucial source of nutrition and income. However, pests and diseases — Xanthomanas wilt of banana, Fusarium wilt, black leaf streak (or Black sigatoka), to name a few — threaten to damage the fruit. And when a disease outbreak hits, the effects to smallholder livelihoods can be detrimental.

In the few instances in which losses to the Fusarium Tropical race 4 fungus have been estimated, they amounted to US$121 million in Indonesia, US$253.3 million in Taiwan, and US$14.1 million in Malaysia (Aquino, Bandoles and Lim, 2013). In Africa, where the fungus was first reported in 2013 in a plantation in northern Mozambique, the number of symptomatic plants rose to more than 570,000 in September 2015.

The tool is built into an app called Tumaini — which means “hope” in Swahili — and is designed to help smallholder banana growers quickly detect a disease or pest and prevent a wide outbreak from happening. The app aims to link them to extension workers to quickly stem the outbreak. It can also upload data to a global system for large-scale monitoring and control. The app’s goal is to facilitate a robust and easily deployable response to support banana farmers in need of crop disease control.

“The overall high accuracy rates obtained while testing the beta version of the app show that Tumaini has what it takes to become a very useful early disease and pest detection tool,” said Guy Blomme, from Bioversity International. “It has great potential for eventual integration into a fully automated mobile app that integrates drone and satellite imagery to help millions of banana farmers in low-income countries have just-in-time access to information on crop diseases.”

Deep learning

Rapid improvements in image-recognition technology made the Tumaini app possible. To build it, researchers uploaded 20,000 images that depicted various visible banana disease and pest symptoms. With this information, the app scans photos of parts of the fruit, bunch, or plant to determine the nature of the disease or pest. It then provides the steps necessary to address the specific disease. In addition, the app also records the data, including geographic location, and feeds it into a larger database.

Existing crop disease detection models focus primarily on leaf symptoms and can only accurately function when pictures contain detached leaves on a plain background. The novelty in this app is that it can detect symptoms on any part of the crop, and is trained to be capable of reading images of lower quality, inclusive of background noise, like other plants or leaves, to maximize accuracy.

“This is not just an app,” said Selvaraj. “But a tool that contributes to an early warning system that supports farmers directly, enabling better crop protection and development and decision making to address food security.”

This study, implemented by the Alliance between Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), has shown the potential of cutting-edge technologies such as AI, IoT (Internet of Things), robotics, satellites, cloud computing, and machine learning for the transformation of agriculture and for helping farmers.

Story Source:

Materials provided by International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Michael Gomez Selvaraj, Alejandro Vergara, Henry Ruiz, Nancy Safari, Sivalingam Elayabalan, Walter Ocimati, Guy Blomme. AI-powered banana diseases and pest detection. Plant Methods, 2019; 15 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s13007-019-0475-z


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“Spain has the largest area with

In certain areas of Spain, pesticides are being replaced by small workers who do the same job in a very efficient manner: insects.

“They work for me day and night,” says Antonio Zamora with a smile while standing in his greenhouse. Its tiny employees are bugs that feed on the parasites that threaten his peppers.

Zamora, like most of his colleagues, no longer sprays his crops with pesticides, but hangs small bags of mites on the plants, as these will attack the parasites and prevent their spread.

He owns two hectares in the so-called “sea of ​​plastic”, about 30,000 hectares of greenhouses in the province of Almeria, in southeastern Spain, where a lot of Europe’s fruits and vegetables are grown.

The bright white plastic mosaic that borders the Mediterranean, visible from space, produces tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers and eggplants all year round to supply European supermarkets.

Last year, 2.5 million tons of Almería-grown products were exported, half of Spain’s vegetable exports.

Like Zamora, virtually all pepper growers in Almeria have replaced insecticides with the so-called “biological control”.

About 60 percent of tomato growers have done the same, along with a quarter of zucchini growers, according to the Coexphal growers association.

Lower pesticide use and a billion insects
Insecticide consumption in Almeria has fallen by 40 percent since 2007, according to local authorities.

Insecticide use increased in the 1960’s, but agricultural producers have adopted new methods due to the pressure exerted by consumer groups, as well as to the fact that their crops have become increasingly resistant to chemicals.

In many cases, the reduction in the use of chemicals has been drastic, and the substances that are still in use are not as strong.

The French agricultural cooperative InVivo, which has annual sales worth 5,500 million Euro ($ 6,200 million), recently opened a “biofactory”, Bioline Iberia, in the heart of the plastic sea.

Inside tightly closed rooms with closely-monitored temperature and humidity levels, the employees breed four species of mites to sell them in the region, as well as in Portugal and Morocco. The company expects to produce one billion insects this year.

Similar factories have emerged in recent years around the plastic sea, and approximately 30 companies sell insects at increasingly lower prices.

“Spain can be considered to have the largest area in Europe, and perhaps in the world, when it comes to the implementation of biological control,” says Bioline Iberia director Federico García.

Source: tiempo.com

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