Archive for the ‘Control tactics’ Category

View as a webpage ARS News Service
ARS News Service A field of corn
ARS and collaborating scientists have begun a multi-faceted fight against an emerging disease of corn called tar spot. ARS, Collaborating Scientists Tackling “Tar Spot” Threat to U.S. Corn For media inquiries contact: Jan Suszkiw, (202) 734-1176
October 25, 2021 Helping farmers turn the tide on an emerging disease of corn called tar spot is the focus of a multi-organization team of scientists, including from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in West Lafayette, Indiana. Caused by the fungus Phyllachora maydis, tar spot appears as black, roughly circular discolorations on the leaves, husks and stalks of corn plants. A tan halo sometimes surrounds the spore-filled spots, creating what’s known as a fish-eye lesion. Outbreaks of the disease, which was first detected in northern Indiana and Illinois in 2015, can reduce grain yields by 20 to 60 bushels an acre. Tar spot is now also found in corn-growing areas of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and southwestern Ontario, Canada. Although fungicides offer the hardest-hitting counterpunch, resistance to tar spot disease in corn is far more preferable, according to Steve Goodwin, a plant pathologist with the ARS Crop Production and Pest Control Research unit in West Lafayette, IN. There, in collaboration with fellow ARS scientists Raksha Singh, Matthew Helm and Charles Crane, Goodwin is working to manage tar spot on several research fronts: Screening existing commercial corn varieties and germplasm lines for their resistance or susceptibility to tar spot so that growers can adjust their disease management practices accordingly. Developing tools known as molecular markers to quickly and efficiently identify a gene known to confer tar spot resistance in corn, namely Qrtsc8. Identifying corn plants that lack the gene but are still resistant to the disease are also of interest, since an entirely new gene or genes unknown to science could be at play. Potentially, such sources of resistance could also prove useful in shoring up the crop’s defenses even further. Determining the biocontrol potential of a community of microorganisms known as the microbiome that was observed on tar-spot-resistant but not susceptible corn plants. “The main goal is to understand how environmental factors, plant growth stage and the associated corn microbiome affect tar spot disease progression and how all these factors are interconnected,” said Raksha.   Identification of several proteins the tar spot fungus uses to “short circuit” the defenses of susceptible plants—and how, in turn, these proteins could be exploited for better detection of different strains of the fungus and their severity in fields, noted Helm.     On other fronts, university collaborators are conducting research to optimize the timing of fungicide sprays and evaluating rotations of corn with non-host crops to reduce the disease’s severity and prevent the fungus from surviving the winter on debris from prior corn harvests. Researchers are also pouring through existing literature on the biology of the tar spot fungus and building on what’s known about it with genomic sequencing—a kind of decoding of its DNA playbook for causing disease in corn. One hope is that this will yield clues to new ways of controlling the fungus and preempting costly outbreaks like the one from 2018 to 2020, which claimed an estimated 241 million bushels of U.S. corn. The effort is being carried out under the auspices of the National Plant Disease Recovery System (NPDRS). Arising from a 2004 Homeland Security Presidential Directive, the NPDRS spotlights emerging plant disease threats and identifies what tools, infrastructure, communication networks and other resources will be necessary to protect U.S crops or recover from outbreaks that have already occurred. Besides ARS, other partner organizations are Purdue University, Michigan State University, Iowa State University, The Ohio State University, University of Missouri, University of Florida and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico, where tar spot was first identified in 1904. The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $17 of economic impact. Interested in reading more about ARS research? Visit our news archive U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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Natural resources resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus

Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) is one of the most destructive diseases affecting tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) cultivation and production worldwide. As defenses against TSWV, natural resistance genes have been identified in tomatoes, including Sw-1a, Sw-1b, sw-2, sw-3, sw-4, Sw-5, Sw-6, and Sw-7.

However, only Sw-5 exhibits a high level of resistance to the TSWV. Thus, it has been cloned and widely used in the breeding of tomatoes with resistance to the disease. Due to the global spread of TSWV, resistance induced by Sw-5 decreases over time and can be overcome or broken by a high concentration of TSWV. How to utilize other resistance genes and identify novel resistance resources are key approaches for breeding tomatoes with resistance to TSWV.

In this review, the characteristics of natural resistance genes, natural resistance resources, molecular markers for assisted selection, and methods for evaluating resistance to TSWV are summarized. The aim is to provide a theoretical basis for identifying, utilizing resistance genes, and developing tomato varieties that are resistant to TSWV.

Read the complete research at www.researchgate.net.

Qi, Shiming & Zhang, Shijie & Islam, Md & El-Sappah, Ahmed & Liang, Yan. (2021). Natural Resources Resistance to Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV) in Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 22. 10.3390/ijms222010978. 

Publication date: Tue 19 Oct 2021

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Destruction of nature and the rampant use of pesticides are the main drivers behind a rapid worldwide loss of bees and other pollinator species, an international panel of experts reported Monday. Shifts in land use to mono-crops, expanded grazing for livestock, and the widespread use of chemical fertilizers have also contributed significantly to their collapse, according to a global index of the causes and effects of pollinator decline.

For people everywhere, dwindling pollinator populations has potentially devastating consequences. Bees, butterflies, wasps, beetles, bats, flies and hummingbirds that distribute pollen are vital for the reproduction of more than three-quarters of food crops and flowering plants, including coffee, rapeseed and most fruits.

“What happens to pollinators could have huge knock-on effects for humanity,” said Lynn Dicks, a professor in Cambridge’s Department of Zoology and lead author of a study in Nature Ecology & Evolution. “These small creatures play central roles in the world’s ecosystems, including many that humans and other animals rely on for nutrition,” she added in a statement. 

“If they go, we may be in serious trouble.” 

The world has seen a three-fold increase in pollinator-dependent food production – valued at nearly $600 billion annually – over the last 50 years, according to a major UN report from 2016 to which Dicks contributed.

To get an up-to-date overview of pollinator status and the risks associated with their decline, Dicks worked with 20 scientists and indigenous representatives from around the world.

The causes and impacts of decline varied across regions.

Mass die-offs due to disease and so-called colony collapse disorder in industrial beehives and other “managed pollinators” ranked as a high risk in North America, where they play a key role in apple and almond production.

In Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America – regions where poorer rural populations rely on wild-growing foods – the impact of pollinator decline on wild plants and fruits poses a serious risk.

Latin America was viewed as the region with the most to lose. 

Insect-pollinated crops such as cashews, soybean, coffee and cocoa are essential to the region’s food supply and international trade. 

Indigenous populations also depend heavily on pollinated plants, with some pollinator species such as hummingbirds embedded in oral culture and history.

“This study highlights just how much we still don’t know about pollinator decline and the impacts on human societies, particularly in parts of the developing world,” said co-author Tom Breeze, Ecological Economics Research Fellow at the University of Reading. 

In China and India – increasingly reliant on fruit and vegetable crops that need pollinators – the loss of natural sources means it must sometimes be done by hand.

“We are in the midst of a species extinction crisis, but for many people that is intangible,” she added. “Perhaps pollinators are the bellwether of mass extinction.”

Another potential driver of pollinator decline that is likely to get worse is climate change, the study noted.

(Cover image via CFP)

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at nature@cgtn.com.)Source(s): AFP

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Lentil breeding advances set to continue

North Queensland Register

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard@grheard20 Oct 2021, 3 p.m.Grains

Agriculture Victoria lentil breeder Arun Shunmugam with a promising line of yet to be commercially released lentils in a trial at the pulse trial site at Propodollah, near Nhill, last week.

 Agriculture Victoria lentil breeder Arun Shunmugam with a promising line of yet to be commercially released lentils in a trial at the pulse trial site at Propodollah, near Nhill, last week.Aa

IN A YEAR with many contenders for most lucrative crop lentils are making a solid charge.

Values are in excess of $1000 a tonne, primarily in light of a lack of product from the world’s largest exporter of the legume, Canada, and an easing of tariffs from the world’s largest importer, India.https://7d116f708d3262b63c59ece0b6732cc5.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

RELATED: New field peas

It has farmers in the lentil belt through Victoria and South Australia excited about this year’s harvest, with a kind season in regions such as the Wimmera meaning many crops are displaying outstanding yield potential.

Given the buzz around the crop at present it is no wonder lentils were one of the major talking points at last week’s Southern Pulse Field Day near Nhill in Victoria’s Wimmera.

Agriculture Victoria pulse breeders Jason Brand and Arun Shunmugam said there were a number of promising new developments in the lentil breeding pipeline.

In particular two cultivars yet to be commercialised are performing well in trials, with Dr Brand saying there was huge yield potential in the two lines.

Dr Shunmugam said other focuses of breeders included looking to incorporate more frost resistant genetic material along with further advances in herbicide resistant and tolerant varieties.

The crowd at the Nhill field day said Clearfield / imi-tolerant lines such as Hallmark and Hurricane were popular as they gave flexibility within the rotation and reduced the plant-back risk when planted following another Clearfield line.

Dr Brand said frost and waterlogging tolerance remained two key objectives.

He said there was a complex interaction which meant plants just metres apart could fare vastly differently.

“You can see even in the trials here that some plants look like they’ve incurred frost damage and just a couple of metres away with slightly different soil type and slightly higher up they are unaffected.

“Some form of tolerance to both these stresses would be a great win for the industry,” Dr Brand said.

He said the breeding sector wanted feedback from growers about what herbicide tolerance traits were wanted.

“It is a complex one as we have to manage market expectations and maximum residue limits in with what is going to work well agronomically, but we’re really keen to hear what growers would be interested in seeing in future varieties,” he said.

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BMA President Herman van Mellaert:

“We urge the EU to unleash power of biocontrol in support of Farm to Fork”

Europe’s biocontrol industry urges EU lawmakers to back biocontrol, or else miss the Green Deal targets. Reported pushbacks to make Farm to Fork objectives such as 50% reduction of chemical pesticides by 2030 ‘non-binding’ are of deep concern. The biocontrol industry instead recommends the European Commission to go further in its Farm to Fork ambition.

Speaking at the European Commission’s Farm to Fork Conference ‘Building Sustainable Food Systems together’, Jennifer Lewis, Executive Director of The International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association (IBMA), said: “The state of the climate, biodiversity, and health are of deep concern to us all and farmers need to be part of the solution. We need a profound food systems transformation in Europe with biocontrol in every farmers‘ toolbox.”

The Institute for European Environmental Policy report on biocontrol, published in June 2021, identified significant biodiversity, climate, and health benefits from biocontrol. Yet the biocontrol industry suffers from lengthy delays in the EU approval process under European pesticide regulation 1107/2009 which is designed for chemical pesticides and not for biologicals like micro-organisms, pheromones, or botanicals. Another crucial piece of EU legislation, the Directive on Sustainable Use of pesticides, still turns a blind eye to biocontrol.

“We have a full pipeline of natural solutions waiting to help produce sustainable food for all while cutting back rapidly on chemical pesticides. The revision of Sustainable Use Directive (SUD) is one of the first opportunities for the EU to translate Farm to Fork goals into policy. The SUD should be much firmer in promoting alternatives to chemical pesticides. The SUD should include an EU-wide definition of biocontrol as well as mechanisms to set targets for biocontrol, reward its use, and train users”, said Lewis.

IBMA President Herman van Mellaert added: “The revised SUD must take stock of the EU Green Deal and its Farm to Fork Strategy for which biocontrol is a key enabler. As passionate advocates of the Green Deal, the biocontrol industry cannot imagine that the EU Commission would even consider a SUD revision without a proper definition of biocontrol and strong mechanisms to give priority to our nature-based solutions. We urge the European Union to unleash the power of biocontrol in support of the Green Deal and Farm to Fork.”

Read the complete article here.

For more information:
International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association

Publication date: Wed 20 Oct 2021

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The Good Virus: A Bioinsecticide Helps Farmers Control Caterpillar Pests

10/19/2021 | 10:12 AM CDT

Progressive Farmer

Emily Unglesbee

By  Emily Unglesbee , DTN Staff ReporterConnect with Emily: @Emily_Unglesbee

Some farmers are taking advantage of a virus-based bioinsecticide that helps control Helicoverpa zea -- that multi-crop-eating pest known as corn earworm, cotton bollworm, soybean podworm and sorghum headworm. (DTN File Photo by Pamela Smith)
Some farmers are taking advantage of a virus-based bioinsecticide that helps control Helicoverpa zea — that multi-crop-eating pest known as corn earworm, cotton bollworm, soybean podworm and sorghum headworm. (DTN File Photo by Pamela Smith)

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — Frank Appleberry has a list of things to apply each spring to his crop fields in Tillar, Arkansas: preplant fertilizer, preemergence herbicides and oh, don’t forget the liquid blend of pulverized caterpillars, teeming with live viruses.

It sounds unconventional, but for a growing number of American farmers, this type of bioinsecticide is proving a regular and reliable tool to control Helicoverpa zea, the multi-crop pest known as soybean podworm, sorghum headworm, corn earworm and cotton bollworm.

These bioinsecticides are made from a strain of naturally occurring nuclear polyhedrosis viruses (NPVs), recently categorized as Group 31 insecticides. They are sprayed on row crop foliage like a normal insecticide. From there, things get a little gruesome, but only for the targeted caterpillar pests.

After ingesting the bioinsecticide, the caterpillar dies within a week, and the virus turns its corpse into a virus-replicating factory. The blackened, jelly-like remains of the worm overflow with more viruses, ready to infect more caterpillars, who in turn produce more virus. And so the cycle goes, until the caterpillar infestation abates and — without a host — the virus fades into the ecological background.

“It’s just part of what we do now in the spring,” explained Appleberry, who has replaced much of his onerous schedule of spraying soybeans at least every two weeks, with a single application of an NPV-based bioinsecticide called Heligen, around soybean bloom. “The first year we used it, we sprayed 1,150 acres and only had to come back with a pyrethroid for worms on about 200 acres,” he recalled.

These types of viruses are already circulating in nature and are not totally new to agriculture. University researchers dabbled with harnessing their insecticidal properties back in the 1970s, but they were largely supplanted by the advent of fast-acting synthetic insecticides, such as pyrethroids.

Now, a global biotech company, AgBiTech, has scaled up a commercial NPV product in the U.S., Heligen. It uses an NPV strain that targets H. zea (bollworm/earworm/podworm/headworm) and is registered for use in most row crops. AgBiTech also offers a suite of products registered globally to control other caterpillar pests, such as soybean looper (Chrysogen), armyworm (Fawligen), old world bollworm (Armigen), and a dual-virus product combining the H. zea and soybean looper strains (Surtivo). Other brands of NPVs also exist, but AgBiTech has made the largest inroads among American growers, university entomologists and farmers told DTN.

Amid growing insect resistance to insecticides and Bt, as well as interest in more eco-friendly farming practices, the success of NPVs has caught the attention of an even bigger player — Corteva Agriscience. This year, the company announced its plans to commercialize an NPV strain marketed under the brand name, Hearken, developed by a German company, Andermatt Biocontrol.


AgBiTech prides itself on running what Chief Technology Officer Paula Marcon jokingly calls “a five-star hotel for caterpillars” at the company’s manufacturing facility in Fort Worth, Texas. No check-out required for these doomed guests, however, as the company infects the insects with their NPV strain of choice and then blends them into a smoothie-like liquid, ready for the sprayer.

“It’s a little brownish, like syrup and smells wonderful,” Marcon said. “And it’s well adapted to foliar applications.” Since the NPV cocktails contain living organisms, they do come with some special handling requirements. They can last many years in a freezer and several months at room temperature (under 77 degrees), but if they stay at temperatures well above 77 degrees for more than 36 hours, the products can start to break down. “That last mile to the field, you have to be careful,” said Marcon.

And since the viruses are protected by a protein coating that is degraded by highly alkaline environments — such as a caterpillar’s stomach — tank mixes need to stay below a pH of 8 to keep the virus alive, Marcon said. AgBiTech’s products, such as Heligen and Surtivo, can be tank mixed with other active ingredients, such as herbicides or fungicides, as long as the tank’s pH stays low enough, added Marcos Castro, AgBiTech’s vice president of sales and marketing.

Heligen requires a fairly low use rate, ranging from 1 to 2.5 ounces, depending on the crop, with costs landing around $5 to $6 per acre.

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Microscopic worms rescue cranberries

  • USDA Agricultural Research Service
  • Oct 19, 2021 Updated Oct 19, 2021

Tiny wormlike organisms called nematodes that attack cranberry pests could offer a natural alternative to using insecticides. 

  • Shawn Steffan

https://1f1e72bdfae6591b8600816cafd353b4.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlhttps://1f1e72bdfae6591b8600816cafd353b4.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlTownNews.com Content Exchange

Nematodes with a taste for “insect innards” may offer cranberry growers a natural alternative to fighting hungry crop pests with chemical insecticides.

Scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and University of Wisconsin are now exploring the possibility in field trials.

They’ve set their sights on redheaded flea beetles, Sparganothis fruitworms and other cranberry pests that attack the cranberry plant itself or its tart-tasting fruit. Severe infestations can force growers to apply insecticides, ratcheting up their production costs. Developing alternative controls as part of an integrated pest management approach can reduce or replace the need for insecticides, said Shawn Steffan, an entomologist with the Agricultural Research Service Vegetable Crops Research Unit in Madison, Wisconsin.https://1f1e72bdfae6591b8600816cafd353b4.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

For his part, he and UW collaborator Shane Foye are working to formulate a bio-insecticide that’s made of entomopathogenic — “insect-killing” — nematodes. One species they’re particularly excited about came from the self-same environment that cranberries thrive in — the marshland and bogs of central Wisconsin. Cranberry also happens to be the official fruit of the state, which produces 60 percent of the nation’s total crop.

Annually Americans consume 2.3 pounds of cranberries per person, primarily as juice but also in dried fruit snacks and holiday fare such as cranberry relish. However the path from bog to juice bottle can be a perilous one — no thanks to sundry insect pests whose appetites for destruction threaten the crop’s yield, fruit quality or both.

Nature, though, has seen fit to make the pests a favorite food of the nematodes Heterorhabditis georgiana and Oscheius onirici. Both species were found in the acidic wet bogs of central Wisconsin. Interestingly H. georgiana was originally discovered by David Shapiro-Ilan, who is another Agricultural Research Service scientist, in Georgia.

Steffan said, “O. onirici was originally found within caves in Italy, but clearly there are populations making a living in the marshlands of Wisconsin.”

The researchers hope both nematode species will prove to be an especially useful ally to both conventional and organic cranberry growers. Neither species is a threat to people, pets or other vertebrate animals. But what they do to their preferred prey isn’t pretty. After entering a natural body cavity, the nematodes release symbiotic bacteria that liquefy their prey’s internal organs and tissues. That creates a nutritious soup that the nematodes eat. Afterward they mate and deposit eggs inside their host’s remains. Eventually juvenile nematodes wriggle free in search of new hosts to infect, a cycle that lasts as long as their prey does.https://1f1e72bdfae6591b8600816cafd353b4.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

In field trials, spraying a solution of the nematodes onto cranberry beds reduced flea beetle numbers by as much as 93 percent. Average levels of control typically reached 60 percent to 70 percent — equal to two insecticide applications, Steffan said. In related laboratory experiments, O. onirici also proved lethal to the adult and larval stages of the spotted wing drosophila, an invasive species from Asia that’s become an established U.S. pest of many different fruit crops.

Encouraged by the results, the researchers have devised a method of rearing the nematodes by the billions and creating a clean highly concentrated mass of them that can be mixed with water and sprayed onto cranberry plants

“(And) we are trying some side-by-side trials this year involving commercial nematodes,” Steffan said. “This will give us some idea as to how our native Wisconsin nematodes compare to ‘off-the-shelf’ varieties.”

Thank you for reading kmaland.comAt KMA, we attempt to be accurate in our reporting. If you see a typo or mistake in a story, please contact us by emailing kmaradio@kmaland.com.

This article originally ran on agupdate.com.

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Development of blight-resistant potato is a staggering breakthrough


Last week saw the launch of a new blight-resistant potato variety that is also resistant to many other diseases.

I believe this news must rank as one of the most important breakthroughs within the field of agricultural science in living memory.

What makes this development all the more memorable is the fact that it has been achieved without the use of genetic modification (GM) and/or genomic editing.

It truly was a case of plant breeders seeking out the native potato strains that they needed in Peru, and taking the project on from there.

Blight-resistant potato

In my opinion, the scale of this breakthrough is truly hard to quantify. Currently, blight-related losses within the international potato sector amount to €8.5 billion.

Meanwhile, the costs associated with the purchase of fungicides to treat the disease come in at a similar value.

So the end result of all this represents a ‘win-win’ scenario, both for growers and those who consume the humble spud.

For the record, one third of the world’s population still rely on potatoes as the main source of energy in their diets.

Commercial scale

The coming years will see if the claims made by the plant breeders for the new potato variety can be verified on a truly commercial scale in countries around the world.

One of the most significant aspects to the work undertaken, has been its total dependence on the plant biodiversity that exists in Peru.

If ever the world needed proof that we do away with native species and the vast diversity within the natural world that is all around us at our peril, this is it.

This plant breeding breakthrough also flies in the face of the likes of Monsanto, which seems to think that GM is the answer to all our problems.

In truth, I am fast coming to the conclusion that GM and all other related sciences could be creating long-term issues for humanity – many, or all of which, could prove very difficult to step back from.

It’s also worth pointing out that the development of the new variety completes the circle, where the humble potato is concerned.

The original tubers were brought into this country from South America almost five centuries ago.

So it is right and fitting that plant breeders went back to that part of the world to solve a problem that has been at the heart of world hunger for so many years.Also Read: Danish pig industry committed to improving maternal linesOPINIONPOTATOES

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Bayer develops herbicides for cassava to tackle weeds and raise yields

12 October 2021Bayer has developed and launched a new crop protection product known as Lagon to help farmers tackle the problem of cassava weeds in cassava and boost yield. Tested on more than 200 trials and demos across Nigeria and Tanzania, users rated Lagon among the best preemergence herbicides for controlling grasses and broadleaf weeds in cassava.

Bayer develops herbicides for cassava to tackle weeds and raise yields
Cassava Farmer, Marcos Antonio Dalevedove; Country Sales Manager, Bayer Nigeria Limited, Temitope Banjo; IITA Director for Development and Delivery, Dr Alfred Dixon; Nigeria Cassava Growers Association representative, Simeon Adetunji during the launch of Lagon for weed control in Cassava in Ibadan.

“The launch of Lagon today provides a big relief to farmers,” said Bayer Nigeria Country Sales Manager, Temitope Banjo. “These are exciting times for cassava farmers, and they need not worry about weeds anymore,” he added.

Weeds are a major challenge to increased cassava productivity in Nigeria and Africa in general, with women spending about 500 hours annually to keep a hectare of cassava weed-free using hoes. The manual method of weed control compromises the health of resource-constrained farmers, and in some cases, children are pulled out of school to support weeding.

When left uncontrolled, weeds compete with cassava for water, nutrients, and space, reducing yields by 40 to 90%. To tackle the menace of weeds, the IITA-managed Cassava Weed Management Project has screened more than 40 preemergence herbicides in the last eight years, both on-station and on-farm. The trials and subsequent demonstrations were conducted in Abia, Benue, Ogun, and Oyo states in Nigeria and in Tanzania.

Across the four states, which represent the key agroecological zones that predominantly grow cassava in Nigeria, cassava yields from Lagon-treated fields were more than double the national average and above 20 tons per hectare. Furthermore, cassava plants treated with Lagon were more robust than those on untreated fields or where the product was not used.

IITA Director for Development and Delivery Alfred Dixon said that the Cassava Weed Management Project team also conducted residue analysis on cassava leaves, stems, and roots. “The residue analysis provided negative results, meaning that Lagon is safe for application on field crops, particularly cassava,” Dixon added.

Farmers who use Lagon commended the Bayer preemergence herbicides for their efficacy.

According to Chichi Ngufan, using Lagon on farmers’ fields was doing “wonders” and helping farmers increase their yields and profits. Ngufan, a cassava commercial seed producer, said the use of Lagon has helped her group increase the size of their cassava farm in Benue.

“This is possible because we now manage weeds in cassava better,” she said, adding that with Lagon, farmers were saving more on weeding costs.

Ngufan called on the government to support the dissemination of Lagon so that more farmers could have access to the product and make more returns from growing cassava.FacebookTwitterEmailShare

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Sam Jones with IPS:

“Alternative tools to manage insect pest outbreaks have never been more important”

Crop protection is vital for every grower; you do not put all that effort into growing your crops just for them to get eaten or get ill. One method to fight pests is pheromones. International Pheromone Systems (IPS) develops, produces, and supplies insect semiochemical-based products and trapping systems for its customers, which “are used to monitor and control insect pests in a wide range of settings, including agriculture, horticulture, forestry, storage facilities, and in the home and garden,” Dr. Sam Jones from IPS says.

Right: Dr. Sam Jones with IPS

The importance of pheromones
“As fewer pesticides become available to growers, the availability of alternative tools such as pheromones to manage insect pest outbreaks has never been more important. Pheromone based products such as pheromone lures help growers manage pests in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. Although most biopesticides are not as efficient as traditional pesticides, they are far more ecofriendly and species specific, enabling growers to harness the benefits of natural predators which are often able to maintain pest populations below a harmful level. “

This is where IPS comes in. With the help of pheromones – chemical signals insects use to, for instance, find a mate – growers can fight pests and ensure healthier crops. With the aid of such pheromones, the insects are lured into a trap and can no longer hurt the crops or the pollinators buzzing around in the greenhouse. 

Trap Color Trials in aubergine – monitoring for whitefly

Sam explains in detail how two ways of using pheromones work: “Mass trapping and Mating Disruption are two strategies used by many growers to control pests. Mass trapping involves using a greater density of pheromone traps to control a pest population, whereas mating disruption uses pheromone dispensers to saturate the air with a sex pheromone. Usually, it is the male sex that uses the pheromone to locate females, which then quickly become confused by the large number of dense pheromone plumes. This results in them failing to locate a mate.”

Beneficial attractant testing in raspberry crops 

When pheromones do not work
Although pests like thrips, moths, beetles, mealy bugs, and scale insects can be fought with pheromones, not all insects are susceptible to them, Sam says. “Aphids and whitefly, for example, do not use sex or aggregation pheromones (pheromones that attract the opposite sex or both sexes respectively) and therefore monitoring of these pests predominantly relies upon the use of yellow sticky boards or rolls. Visual attraction alone is significantly less effective than a combination of olfactory (e.g. a pheromone) and visual, and yellow boards in particular are non-discriminatory, often catching high numbers of beneficial insects.”

Luckily, there seems to be an alternative: kairomones, another form of semiochemical. Unlike pheromones, which are used among individuals of the same species, kairomones are chemical signals used between different species. As Sam states, “kairomones have been successfully used to enhance attraction of many insect pests, and at IPS we are investigating whether specific chemicals can be used for pests such as aphids and whitefly.”

The pheromones can be applied in polytunnels and glasshouses, in low-tech and high-tech environments alike. Moreover, the pheromones are not only relevant for vegetable and fruit cultivators; flower growers, too, can benefit from this method as IPM produces lures for many moth pests of floral cultivation as well.

Trap/Lure testing in cucumber crops – using a pheromone lure for the Western Flower Thrip, Frankliniella occidentalis

Pesticides fall, pheromones rise
The interest in pesticide-free crops has grown considerably with consumers preferring produce that is grown in the absence of harmful pesticides. Pheromone lures and trapping systems support growers in achieving this. “Recently”, Sam explains, “the EU has banned a wide variety of different pesticides that were deemed to be hazardous to humans and the environment leaving growers with fewer options. Growers are adapting to these changes by adopting Integrated Pest Management plans with a reliance on strategies that do not use synthetic pesticides. There has been considerable growth in the biological pesticide sector in recent years as these are adopted as alternatives. While most are not as effective as conventional pesticides, the efficacy of newer products continues to improve and their increased selectivity ensures that they are better for the glasshouse ecosystem. ”

“As pesticides continue to become phased out, there will undoubtedly be considerable challenges to maintain profitable yields that are sufficient to feed a growing population. It will likely require intelligent use of all available strategies, including biological, physical, and traditional methods. Pheromones will continue to have an important role to play in achieving these goals.”

For more information:
International Pheromone Systems

Publication date: Wed 20 Oct 2021
Author: Arlette Sijmonsma
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India gets first herbicide-tolerant & non-GM rice varieties; launch today

Indian Express, Oct. 19, 2021

The varieties — Pusa Basmati 1979 and Pusa Basmati 1985 — contain a mutated acetolactate synthase (ALS) gene making it possible for farmers to spray Imazethapyr, a broad-spectrum herbicide, to control weeds.

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Written by Harish Damodaran | New Delhi |
Updated: September 28, 2021 7:37:06 am

IARI director AK Singh at a trial field containing both herbicide-tolerant basmati and normal basmati (left plot), whose plants have been killed along with weeds after spraying Imazethapyr. (Photo by Harish Damodaran)

The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has developed the country’s first-ever non-GM (genetically modified) herbicide-tolerant rice varieties that can be directly seeded and significantly save water and labour compared to conventional transplanting.

The varieties — Pusa Basmati 1979 and Pusa Basmati 1985 — contain a mutated acetolactate synthase (ALS) gene making it possible for farmers to spray Imazethapyr, a broad-spectrum herbicide, to control weeds. This dispenses with the need to prepare nurseries where paddy seeds are first raised into young plants, before being uprooted and replanted 25-35 days later in the main field.

The two new varieties are scheduled to be officially released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.https://56428c50993d1e8aab4b4fb64a9125c7.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlRead |Need to think of ‘respectable jobs’ for landless and small farm households: NITI Aayog member

Paddy transplantation is both labour- and water-intensive. The field where the seedlings are transplanted has to be “puddled” or tilled in standing water. For the first three weeks or so after transplanting, the plants are irrigated almost daily to maintain a water depth of 4-5 cm. Farmers continue giving water every two-three days even for the next four-five weeks when the crop is in tillering (stem development) stage.

“Water is a natural herbicide that takes care of weeds in the paddy crop’s early-growth period. The new varieties simply replace water with Imazethapyr and there’s no need for nursery, puddling, transplanting and flooding of fields. You can sow paddy directly, just like wheat,” said A K Singh, director of IARI.Top News Right Now


Imazethapyr, effective against a range of broadleaf, grassy and sedge weeds, can’t be used on normal paddy, as the chemical does not distinguish between the crop and the invasive plants. The ALS gene in rice codes for an enzyme (protein) that synthesises amino acids for crop growth and development. The herbicide sprayed on normal rice plants binds itself to the ALS enzymes, inhibiting their production of amino acids.

The new basmati varieties contain an ALS gene whose DNA sequence has been altered using ethyl methanesulfonate, a chemical mutant. As a result, the ALS enzymes no longer have binding sites for Imazethapyr and amino acid synthesis isn’t inhibited. The plants can also now “tolerate” application of the herbicide, and hence it kills only the weeds.Also Read |India must shed obsession with ‘marginal farmers’. Their future lies outside farms — in dairy, poultry, food retail

“This is herbicide-tolerance through mutation breeding, not GM. There isn’t any foreign gene here,” Singh pointed out.

Both Pusa Basmati 1979 and 1985 have been bred by crossing existing popular varieties — Pusa 1121 and Pusa 1509, respectively — with ‘Robin’. The latter is a mutant line derived from Nagina 22, an upland drought-tolerant rice variety. The mutant was identified for Imazethapyr-tolerance by S Robin, a rice breeder from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore.Also Read |For easy access to schemes, Govt plans 12-digit unique ID for farmers, database

Farmers in Punjab and Haryana are already adopting direct seeding of rice (DSR) in response to labour shortages and depleting water tables. This year alone, roughly 6 lakh of the total 44.3 lakh hectares area under paddy in the two states has come under DSR.

DSR cultivation is currently based on two herbicides, Pendimethalin (applied within 72 hours of sowing) and Bispyribac-sodium (after 18-20 days). As Singh pointed out, “These are costlier than Imazethapyr (Rs 1,500 versus Rs 300/acre). Imazethapyr, moreover, has a wider weed-control range and is safer, as the ALS gene isn’t present in humans and mammals. Even in the herbicide-tolerant rice, the chemical will target only the weeds.”


Transplantation in paddy typically requires about 30 irrigations, each consuming some 5 hectare-cm of water (one hectare-cm equals 100,000 litres). Puddling alone takes up about 15 hectare-cm. In all, DSR is estimated to need 30 per cent less water, save Rs 3,000 per acre in transplantation labour charges, and also 10-15 days’ time due to no nursery preparation.

But DSR’s success hinges on an effective herbicide solution — like breeding Imazethapyr-tolerant varieties.

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