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Ghana News Agency

http://www.ghananewsagency.org/science/ghana-to-focus-on-bio-rational-products-for-management-of-faw-131321

fall-armyworm-frontal-MER-563x744

Ghana to focus on bio-rational products for management of FAW

By Belinda Ayamgha, GNA

Accra, April 13, GNA – The Ministry of Food and Agriculture says it has shifted its focus from synthetic insecticides to bio-rational products, for the management of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestation, as part of its short, medium and long-term management measures.

The focus on bio-rational products is to ensure minimum pest resistance by the FAW, which is higher with the use of synthetic insecticides.

Dr Mrs Felicia Ansah, Director of Plant Protection and Regulatory Services at MoFA, said this when she briefed Journalists on the current situation of the FAW problem.

She noted that the FAW had come to stay, as it could not be completely eradicated but managed, as in the case of Brazil, which had been managing the FAW infestation for the past 40 years, and was currently one of the biggest exporters of maize.

Ghana had thus modelled its management measures after the Brazilian experience.

These measures, she said, include the deployment of pheromone trap catches in various locations across the country to ascertain the levels of infestation, training of MoFA staff and farmers on scouting, early detection and sustainable management of the pest in the event of an outbreak.

She explained that the best way to manage the infestation on farms was to detect the pests early at the larvae stage, and not when they became full grown moths. That is when they did the most damage to crops.

Other measures being undertaken by the Ministry are the distribution of pesticides to all district offices in the country where farmers can access in FAW infestations, the formation and training of Nnoboa Spraying Teams in farming communities and intensification of public awareness creation for farmers and the general public.

According to Dr Ansah, Ghana had commenced scouting of natural enemies of the FAW, which once identified, will be reared to help reduce the population of the pests.

“In the long term, only biological control agents, microbial insecticides and botanicals/organic products will be used to manage FAW in Ghana,” she said.

She said a total of 249,054 hectares of maize were affected and sprayed, out of which 234,807 hectares recovered and 14, 247 totally destroyed in the previous season, adding that there was a likelihood for more infestations in the 2018 farming season.

Dr Ansah stressed the need for the media to be circumspect in how they reported issues around the FAW infestation as it had implications for trade.

She urged the media to collaborate with the Ministry to educate farmers on how to manage the FAW.

She said the pockets of FAW infestations being currently experienced in some districts in the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Eastern, Volta and Western Regions had been blown out of proportion as it was a pre-season production infestation.

“We would like you to appreciate that this is a Phytosanitary or Public Plant Health Issue, with trade implications and must be communicated in a professional manner. Media coverage should rather be geared towards improving the knowledge and skills of our farmers,” she said.

GNA

 

 

 

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Delta Farm Press 1

bollworm larvae

Biopesticide offers new form of control for bollworms, budworms

Helicoverpa NPV is found in nature as a pest of certain caterpillars. It does not kill other pests, and is harmless to humans

Apr 17, 2018

A host-specific virus is being used to control bollworms and budworms in Arkansas crops.

Helicoverpa nucleopolyhedrovirus, or just NPV, does not affect humans, plants or other insects, including those that are beneficial.

A fact sheet about Helicoverpa NPV is now available online at http://bit.ly/HelicoverpaNPV. The fact sheet is a joint publication of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, Southern Integrated Pest Management Working Group and the Mid-South Entomologists Working Group.

The bioinsecticide has been studied and in use for years. Gus Lorenz, Extension entomologist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said there is no shortage of research behind the use of this virus.

“This virus has been around for a long time,” he said. “The specific virus we’re looking at from AgBiTech, we’ve been looking at for about three years.”

The product is widely used and is currently in use in many different countries.

“It’s well-adopted in Australia and they’re selling it in South America,” Lorenz said. “It’s used all across the country and they’re pushing it pretty hard in the Mid-South.”

The virus only kills bollworm and budworm larvae that are less than a half-inch long and has no effect on later growth stages also known as instars. Because of this, Lorenz said, the virus should not be used if a producer finds more than five larger larvae in 25 scouting sweeps of a field.

Catch them early

“The virus doesn’t control the pests at later stages,” he said. “The younger larvae are smaller and more susceptible.Ninety percent of what bollworms consume is in the last instars, so you have to catch them before they cause that damage. It’s slow killing, so the last thing you want to do is put it on a late stage larva.”

The virus usually causes death in small larvae within four to six days and can show residual activity through several generations of pests if the conditions are right, according to the publication.

Lorenz said while there is always a possibility for resistance with any insecticide, it is not likely here in the Mid-South.

“If you expose larva to it in the front end of the season and the back end of the season, year in and year out, it could build resistance,” he said, “but it’s not probably anything we’re going to experience.”

As stated in the publication, the virus is safe for tank-mixing. However, along with some other mentioned precautions, Lorenz warns against mixing with high pH water.

“Water with high pH breaks down the matrix of the virus,” he said. “It’s extremely important that it’s not mixed with water with a pH of eight or higher.”

There are restrictions on when to use Helicoverpa NPV in relation to time of year.

TAGS: Insects

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Delta Farm Press 1

 

Rice heads

LSU AgCenter releases new rice hybrid

A new hybrid rice with high quality and competitive yield potential is being released by the LSU AgCenter.

Bruce Schultz 1 | Apr 05, 2018

A new hybrid rice with high quality and competitive yield potential is being released by the LSU AgCenter.

The long-grain hybrid, LAH169, was developed at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station during the past seven years.

The rights to commercial development will be available for bidding. The date for submitting bids will be announced after details are finalized, according to Alana Fernandez of the LSU AgCenter Office of Intellectual Property.

LSU AgCenter hybrid rice breeder Jim Oard said LAH169 has good grain quality with low chalk. “It has 50 percent less chalk than the commercial hybrids currently available,” he said.

He said LAH169 can have a respectable yield.

“The main crop yield performance of LAH169 in 25 trials in five locations across three years in Louisiana was 94 percent of RiceTec CLXL745, the most popular hybrid in Louisiana,” Oard said. “In limited trials across two years, the combined main and ratoon yields of LAH169 were nearly identical to CLXL745.”

The new hybrid is moderately resistant to blast, sheath blight and panicle blight, he said.

Seed crop

A seed crop of LAH169 has been grown at the LSU AgCenter winter nursery in Puerto Rico, Oard said. That rice will be harvested in April and will be stored at the Rice Research Station until a partner to increase seed has been identified.

Oard said hybrid development will continue. “We have a Clearfield hybrid in the pipeline,” he said.

Also available for the first time is a new Clearfield Jasmine-type rice named CLJ01.

It is superior to its aromatic predecessors, Jazzman-1 and Jazzman-2, in terms of yield and quality, said AgCenter rice breeder Adam Famoso.

The biggest difference is yield. “Over three years of tests off-station, on average it’s been 30 percent or better than Jazzman-2,” Famoso said.

Its aroma is on par with Thai Jasmine, he said.

Its quality is exceptional, with the lowest chalk of any rice grown at the Rice Research Station, Famoso said.

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Delta Farm Press 1

Boll weevil photo
A boll weevil-free growing environment has saved millions of dollars for cotton growers across the Cotton Belt as a result of a years-long program to eradicate the pest.

Arkansas weevil eradication force ramps up with expected cotton acre rise

Rebate headed to 2017 growers mailbox

David Bennett | Apr 06, 2018

Did you grow cotton in Arkansas last year? If so, a rebate is headed your way.

The reason has to do with boll weevils — or, more precisely, the eradication program (http://www.aad.arkansas.gov/boll-weevil-eradication-program) to keep them out of the state.

“At the end of last year, by the time we got through (with the eradication effort), the cost averaged out to about $2 per acre,” says Regina Coleman, Arkansas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation executive director. “The assessment is $3 per acre and we keep a two-year operating reserve. It turned out we ended up with a surplus and that will now be given back to the growers in the form of a rebate.”

And it’s going to be an actual rebate, not a credit.

“It will be a 75-cent per acre rebate to growers who had cotton (in 2017). Those funds should be going to the growers in the next several weeks.”

Coleman, understandably, is very happy. “This is good news! Agriculture has taken a hit so many ways through the years. This whole program is for the growers and their benefit and it’ll be so nice to send those checks out.”

Acres rising

Bill Robertson, Arkansas Extension cotton specialist, expects north of 500,000 acres of cotton to be planted in the state this year. A big concern is growers coming to the crop for the first time.

“We need to remember we’re still in a boll weevil eradication program,” says Robertson. “Even though we haven’t caught a weevil in a long time, it’s still in force.

“The eradication program is paid for by Arkansas cotton producers. Mapping, establishing traps, and monitoring traps can be very costly. … The goal of the program is to implement an effective and economical program to ensure the sustainability of the Arkansas cotton industry.

“The eradication folks are working very hard right now. Think about it: there are a lot of new farmers coming into cotton. Some of them have never grown an acre before, and they may not understand how important it is to let the eradication monitors know where the cotton will be planted. That info needs to get on the monitors’ radar screens as quickly as possible.”

Coleman agrees. “The program has obviously been successful at eradicating the boll weevil. That’s due to a lot of hard work and diligence of a lot of people through the years. We had some folks early on say, ‘there’s no way we’re getting rid of the boll weevil.’ But we did through a consistent approach on spraying, being steady. A lot of money went into eradication, and because of that and the benefits growers receive from being weevil-free so, anyone growing cotton needs to report it.”

To maintain a weevil-free state, “we need everyone to participate. There are rules and regulations in place and the Arkansas State Plant Board is in charge of making sure those are followed. Basically, if you grow cotton in Arkansas you must report it to the Arkansas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation. The acres must be reported by June 15. If you don’t report your acres, there is a $3 per acre penalty.”

Ramping up

Last year, Arkansas had 424,351 acres of cotton — up from 365,000 acres, says Coleman. “This year, we’re anticipating being over 500,000 acres. From all indications from the information I’ve gathered, that’s what we’re going to budget for.

“Last year, with the jump in acres, the field staff did an extremely good job. I can’t say enough about how good a job they did. We had a few changes in staffing we had to do. But we still only had four field staff and hired several seasonal workers. Everyone jumped in and took care of it and got the job done — covered everything, saw all the growers, took care of the trappings in an efficient manner.”

This year, with acres going up again, “we’ve added another full-time field staffer, and we’ll have three part-time seasonal workers. We’re still operating on a skeletal-type crew even though the acres are rising. But with the people we have on staff and the technology we use, the job can be done properly.”

Again, growers must have everything reported by June 15, and Coleman is “very anxious to see where we end up at.”

Southwest

One interesting development is an expected increase in cotton acres in southwest Arkansas.

“It’s kind of surprising how cotton is going back into the southwest,” says Coleman. “Our Southwest Zone is a four-county area around Texarkana. In 2006, I believe, they had almost 11,000 acres. Then, there was a big decline and there were no acres, gins closed. There was a small plot of cotton at one of the rest areas. So, we monitored that along with the trapping line we always work because Texas still has an active eradication program.”

Then, in 2016, 200 acres of cotton were planted.

“Last year, we had 1,800 acres with more intended but the weather didn’t cooperate. This year, after visiting with growers in the area, it looks like we might be back up to 10,000 acres.”

What kind of pressure does that put on the eradication force?

“The trapping line would have been worked regardless, so that’s normal. Now, trying to locate the growers and potential growers is a worry. Are these people who are coming back into cotton so they know to report? Or, are there brand-new cotton growers who don’t know to report?”

FSA offices have always been very helpful in providing Coleman and colleagues with information and “also to let growers know if they’re planning to plant cotton they need to let the eradication team know.”

Ornamental

One point of emphasis form both Coleman and Robertson: ornamental cotton.

 

“Driving through the country, I’ve seen people growing big, long rows of cotton in their front yards. The bolls were open and plants were loaded. So, that really complicates things for the boll weevil eradication effort. There’s all this ornamental cotton that the folks monitoring for weevils don’t have on their maps and they don’t know about.

“Can you imagine if weevils came back in because of private gardens? It’s just not a good idea to put cotton in your flowerbeds. That could cost millions of dollars to clean up if an outbreak were to occur, and it’s not worth taking the chance.”

Even though the eradication foundation strongly discourages ornamental planting, “we’re always happy to work with schools, museums and parks that are growing non-commercial cotton for education programs,” says Coleman. “In fact, we’re working with several this year. Someone who wants to grow non-commercial must call (the Foundation) or the Plant Board. There’s an application process they have to go through.

“We had a program we worked with last year around Conway (in central Arkansas). They were growing pumpkins along with the cotton. So, when schools came in to visit the pumpkin patch, they were given a lesson on cotton. Conway is way outside the normal cotton-growing areas of the state, obviously. But when you can educate the public on agriculture in a positive way, we’re definitely excited to help.”

TAGS: Insects

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Daily News Blog

Predatory Birds Can Successfully Replace Pesticide Use in Agriculture

(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2018) Simple approaches that increase populations of vertebrate predators, like bats and falcons on farms, can reduce pesticide use, increase on-farm productivity, and conserve wildlife, according to a literature review published by researchers at Michigan State University in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment.  The review encompasses 48 studies published over the last 150 years on the effect of human interventions to enhance natural ecosystem services. Results point not only to new methods to improve on-farm pest management, but also potential ways to engage farmers and citizen scientists in implementing these win-win strategies.

Researchers looked at a number of methods tested in the scientific literature that would increase on-farm populations of vertebrate pest predators. Broadly, discrete approaches such as installing structures like nest boxes, perches, and artificial roosts were investigated alongside more wide-ranging systems aimed at altering habitat and increasing landscape complexity. The latter includes methods such as installing field borders, increasing tree cover, reintroducing native species, and eliminating invasives.

The more discrete approaches provided a simpler, more accessible, and less expensive method of pest management when compared to approaches that require more wide-ranging landscape changes, though the benefits of those activities were not negligible. Nest boxes were found to successfully increase the abundance of predator species. Populations of western bluebirds increased by a factor of 10 when nest boxes were installed as part of a study on California vineyards, and vineyards without the nest boxes saw significantly higher pest levels when compared to those with bluebird boxes. In Europe, apple orchards that installed nest boxes for the native great tit bird saw 50% less pest damage than orchards that did not install the structures. Likewise, the installation of artificial bat roosts around Spanish rice fields led to significant declines in major moth pests over a 10 year period. When perches were installed around Australian soybean fields, raptors and other predatory birds caused a statistically significant decline in mouse populations.

The creation of field borders – strips of non-crop flowers and plants – did represent a successful method of improving populations of vertebrate pest predators. Studies reviewed found that bird abundance around these strips grew as the distance between cropland and forested areas increased, indicating potentially significant benefits of this practice for otherwise monotypic row crop farms.

In considering research on the addition of tree cover, studies have found mixed results. While some work indicates higher populations of various birds on farms of shade-grown coffee, other show species richness to be greater in sun-grown fields. That being said, studies generally indicate that increasing tree cover is likely to improve vertebrate pest control services.

Reintroducing native species can be a multifaceted, costly undertaking, and as a result of misperceptions about large carnivores, is more successful when the species is smaller, well-known, and non-threatening for people and farmers. A case study following the introduction of the New Zealand falcon into region known for its grape production found that the predators reduced fruit loss from pest bird species.

Both structural and landscape-level strategies can interact with one another. In one example, nest boxes installed to promote kestrel populations in Michigan were displaced by the widespread and invasive European starling. Although the solution to this problem is as simple as removing the nests, it indicates broader efforts may be necessary to maintain discrete approaches.

In sum, these methods provide a myriad of benefits. The economic value of vertebrate predators in reducing pests is significant. Bats alone contribute millions of dollars in pest-controlling ecosystem services – one study reviewed found that the loss of bats in Indonesian cacao fields would decrease yields by over 700 lb per hectare, a loss of $730 per year per hectare. The falcons reintroduced to New Zealand grape fields saved farmers there between $234 and $326 as a result of decreased pest bird consumption of fruit. In addition to monetary benefits, structures like nest boxes help conserve species by enhancing local populations, as occurred with the reintroduction of kestrels in Michigan.

Critically, these strategies help replace the over $15.2 billion American farmers spent purchasing pesticides in 2016. However, as researchers indicate, the true cost of pesticide use, through the poisoning of humans and animals, the displacement of pest predators, and contamination of our environment may increase that number by over $10 billion.

This review provides sound evidence in favor of farmers implementing simple, environmentally sustainable pest management methods. Researchers note the need to further investigate ways to engage farmers and citizens to participate in these activities, potentially through social networks, games such as the Ebird mobile app, and other tools. “Now that we’ve bundled these studies, we really need to set a research agenda to quantify best practices and make the results accessible to key stakeholders, such as farmers and environmentalists,” said lead author of the study Catherine Lindell, PhD to the National Science Foundation.

For more information on the benefits of not only vertebrate predators, but a wide range of wildlife species in reducing pesticide use, see Beyond Pesticides’ Wildlife Program page.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: National Science Foundation, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment

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SE farm press

 

Auburn University
An Auburn University researcher surveys a soybean field. Auburn entomologists have discovered and identified a tiny wasp, Ooencyrtus nezarae, which kills the crop-destroying bugs.

Researchers discover another natural enemy of the kudzu bug

Though only about the size of a pinhead, the newly detected parasitoid wasp can do plenty of damage to the kudzu bug.

Paul L. Hollis | Mar 14, 2018

Auburn University entomologists have discovered and identified a tiny wasp that could provide a huge benefit to soybean producers and other farmers.

Though only about the size of a pinhead, the newly detected parasitoid wasp, Ooencyrtus nezarae, can do plenty of damage to the kudzu bug, a quarter-inch-long invasive pest of soybeans and other legume crops in the Southeast. Researchers in the lab of entomologist Henry Fadamiro, associate dean for research for the College of Agriculture and associate director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, were the first to detect the wasp’s presence in North America.

 The research team published its findings in a recent article in the Journal of Insect Science. Blessing Ademokoya, an Auburn graduate researcher at the time of the study and now a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is lead author of the article. Fadamiro and Rammohan Balusu, research fellow in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, are co-authors,

as are Auburn research entomologist Charles Ray and Jason Mottern, entomologist at the USDA Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Ray and Mottern assisted in final identification of the wasp. O. nezarae is the second kudzu bug-attacking wasp to be identified in the U.S. The first, Paratelenomus saccharalis, was discovered in Georgia in 2013.”It is exciting to know that many natural enemies are in the field helping to keep kudzu bug populations under control,” Ademokoya said. “And, with this latest addition, we have a potential explanation for the decline observed in kudzu bug densities across several locations in the southeastern U.S.”

The kudzu bug, native to Asia, was first reported in the U.S. in 2009 in Georgia. Although it feeds on kudzu—an economically important invasive weed native to Asia and familiar to Southerners—it also devours soybeans and other legume crops, causing significant yield loss in highly infested fields.

A strong flyer and good hitchhiker, the pest rapidly expanded its numbers across many southern states, including Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Arizona, Maryland and Delaware. The population peaked in 2013.

The kudzu bug has emerged as the top yield-limiting pest of soybeans, which rank as the second most planted field crop in the United States with an estimated annual market value of approximately $39 billion.

In 2017, Alabama farmers harvested approximately 345,000 acres of soybeans with a production value of more than $150 million.

Potential long-term solution

O. nezarae, which was found during field surveys in Alabama, is reported to parasitize eggs from a variety of plant bug families in China.

“Until now, the distribution of O. nezarae has been limited to China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea and Brazil,” Fadamiro said. “This is the first report of the parasitoid in North America. The high rate of parasitism—82.8 to 100 percent—recorded in our study indicates that the parasitoid may serve as a potential long-term solution for managing kudzu bug.”

Despite O. nezarae’s high parasitism rate of kudzu bug, it has a short period of activity, and Fadamiro said continued research will be necessary to identify tactics for the use of the insect to biologically control the pest on farms.

“We need to conduct monitoring to know the distribution of the parasitoid in the United States and to determine its seasonal phenology in the field—when it is not active and when it is most active,” he said. “We also are interested in studying the nutritional ecology of this insect and strategies for its conservation in the field. We don’t want to spray toxic chemicals when it is most active.”

There are numerous ways to use natural enemies in production agriculture, Fadamiro said, including introducing them into areas where they are not already present and preserving them where they are naturally occurring. Farmers also can plant host flowering plants around a field so the nectar will attract and keep the beneficial insect in an area.

“If we conduct a survey and find the insects are only in central Alabama, then we can capture and relocate them to other areas of the state where the kudzu bug is a threat,” he said. “We want to make sure this finding is useful to the farmers who need it most.”

But there’s a risk in assuming that the known natural enemies of the kudzu bug will eliminate the threat, Fadamiro said.

“While the incidence of the kudzu bug has declined in recent years, there could be many factors involved, including weather conditions and other natural enemies, so we need to continue this work,” he said.

The research leading to the discovery of the parasitoid was supported by an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and by the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. It’s an example of Auburn’s commitment to development science-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs.

Auburn University

Auburn University entomologists have discovered and identified a tiny wasp that could provide a huge benefit to soybean producers and other farmers. Though only about the size of a pinhead, the newly detected parasitoid wasp, Ooencyrtus nezarae, can do plenty of damage to the kudzu bug, a quarter-inch-long invasive pest of soybeans and other legume crops in the Southeast.

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Move Over, Beetles: The New Champions of Diversity Are Parasitic Wasps

Parasitoid wasps that lay eggs in other creatures may represent more species than any other group of animals.

purpewasp_top.jpg

This Perilampid wasp parasitizes other parasitic wasps. It is 3 millimeters long. 

Image credits: USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab via Flickr

Friday, March 9, 2018 – 17:00

Nala Rogers, Staff Writer

(Inside Science) — If there is a creator, what can nature reveal about his or her mind? In a possibly apocryphal story, the famed biologist J.B.S. Haldane is said to have answered that “he is inordinately fond of beetles.” But if we’re judging by species diversity, as Haldane probably was, the true celestial favorites may actually be wasps — parasitic wasps whose life cycles read like a horror story.

Beetles, which comprise the taxonomic order Coleoptera, have long been hailed as the most species-rich group in the animal kingdom. But this perception may reflect biases in what humans like to collect, according to a new study. Beetles are often large, brightly colored, and easy to handle and preserve, with bodies that don’t collapse when they dry out. Today’s beetle researchers have a wealth of data at their fingertips, amassed by centuries’ worth of naturalists.

“Darwin and many landed gentlemen back then had insect collections, and the beetles were usually the prize of their collection,” said Andrew Forbes, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City and first author of the study, which is posted on the preprint server bioRxiv and is not yet peer-reviewed.

In contrast, much less is known about certain groups within Hymenoptera, the order that contains ants, bees and wasps. The bulk of hymenopterans are thought to be “parasitoids” — wasps that lay their eggs in or on the bodies of other creatures, most often other bugs.


More insect stories from Inside Science:
Parasitic Wasps Unleashed On Insect Pest
How the Bees You Know are Killing the Bees You Don’t
Video: The Bee Dance 

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