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University of Bristol

Animals fake death for long periods to escape predators

1-Mar-2021 10:00 AM EST, by University of Bristolfavorite_border

Newswise: Animals fake death for long periods to escape predators

Nigel R. Franks

European antlion (Euroleon nostras) on its dorsal side playing dead.

Embargoed until 00.01hrs UK time on Wednesday 3 March 2021

Newswise — Many animals feign death to try to escape their predators, with some individuals in prey species remaining motionless, if in danger, for extended lengths of time.

Charles Darwin recorded a beetle that remained stationary for 23 minutes – however the University of Bristol has documented an individual antlion larvae pretending to be dead for an astonishing 61 minutes. Of equal importance, the amount of time that an individual remains motionless is not only long but unpredictable. This means that a predator will be unable to predict when a potential prey item will move again, attract attention, and become a meal.

Predators are hungry and cannot wait indefinitely. Similarly, prey may be losing opportunities to get on with their lives if they remain motionless for too long. Thus, death-feigning might best be thought of as part of a deadly game of hide and seek in which prey might gain most by feigning death if alternative victims are readily available.

The study, published today in science journal Biology Letters, involved evaluating the benefits of death-feigning in terms of a predator visiting small populations of conspicuous prey. Researchers used computer simulations that utilise the marginal value theorem, a classical model in optimization.

Lead author of the paper Professor Nigel R. Franks from the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences, said: “Imagine you are in a garden full of identical soft fruit bushes. You go to the first bush. Initially collecting and consuming fruit is fast and easy, but as you strip the bush finding more fruit gets harder and harder and more time consuming.

“At some stage, you should decide to go to another bush and begin again. You are greedy and you want to eat as many fruit as quickly as possible. The marginal value theorem would tell you how long to spend at each bush given that time will also be lost moving to the next bush.

“We use this approach to consider a small bird visiting patches of conspicuous antlion pits and show that antlion larvae that waste some of the predator’s time, by ‘playing dead’ if they are dropped, change the game significantly. In a sense, they encourage the predator to search elsewhere.”

The modelling suggests that antlion larvae would not gain significantly if they remained motionless for even longer than they actually do. This suggests that in this arms race between predators and prey, death-feigning has been prolonged to such an extent that it can hardly be bettered.

Professor Franks added: “Thus, playing dead is rather like a conjuring trick. Magicians distract an audience from seeing their sleights of hand by encouraging them to look elsewhere. Just so with the antlion larvae playing dead – the predator looks elsewhere. Playing dead seems to be a very good way to stay alive.”

Paper:

‘Hide-and-seek strategies and post-contact immobility’ by NR Franks, A Worley and AB Sendova-Franks in Biology Letters

Image:

European antlion (Euroleon nostras) on its dorsal side playing dead. Credit: Nigel R. Franks

https://fluff.bris.ac.uk/fluff/u1/hu21584/gouW2eLlMqxEzBsRwNZxGAzcJ/

Issued on Monday 1 March 2021 by University of Bristol Media and PR Team. For more information email press-office@bristol.ac.uk.

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From PestNet

FEBRUARY 17, 2021

Neonicotinoid pesticide residues found in Irish honey

by Thomas Deane, Trinity College Dublin

honey
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Researchers from Trinity and Dublin City University found that Irish honey contained residues of neonicotinoid insecticides.

Neonicotinoids are the most widely used group of insecticides globally, used in plant protection products to control harmful insects.

Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides. Unlike contact pesticides, which remain on the surface of the treated parts of plants (e.g. leaves), systemic pesticides are taken up by the plant and transported throughout its leaves, flowers, roots and stems, as well as incorporated into pollen and nectar.

In the European Union, their use is now restricted due to concerns about risks to bees and other non-target organisms. At the time of sampling for this study, their use was still approved in Ireland for certain agricultural crops.

Key findings

  • Of 30 honey samples tested, 70% contained at least one neonicotinoid compound
  • Almost half (48%) the samples contained at least two neonicotinoids
  • Exposure to pesticides does not just occur in agricultural settings
  • This research for the first time has identified the presence of clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiacloprid in Irish honey from a range of hive sites across a range of land use types
  • The proportion and concentration of neonicotinoids in honeys from both agricultural and urban habitats, compared with semi-natural or other land covers, suggests that exposure of bees to neonicotinoids can potentially occur in a variety of environments

Residue levels were below the admissible limits for human consumption according to current EU regulations, and thus pose no risk to human health.

However, the average concentration of one compound (imidacloprid) was higher than concentrations that have been shown in other studies to induce negative effects on honey and bumble bees.

Dr. Saorla Kavanagh, lead author on the study, currently working at the National Biodiversity Data Centre, said: “Given that these compounds have been shown to have adverse effects on honey bees, wild bees, and other organisms, their detection in honey is of concern, and potential contamination routes should be explored further.”

Professor Jane Stout, from Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences, said: “These results suggest that bees and other beneficial insects are at risk of exposure to contaminants in their food across a range of managed habitats—not just in agricultural settings. And even though we found residues at low concentrations, prolonged exposure to sublethal levels of toxins can cause effects that are still not fully understood by scientists or regulators. Therefore, we shouldn’t relax restrictions on their use.”

Dr. Blánaid White, DCU, said: “Our findings are consistent with others from outside Ireland, and neonicotinoids unfortunately seem to be ubiquitous in honeys worldwide. It’s reassuring that residues do not exceed safe levels, but it is an important warning that neonicotinoids should not be reintroduced into Irish environments, as they could potentially cause health or environmental concerns.”


Explore furtherOn balance, some neonicotinoid pesticides could benefit bees: study


Provided by Trinity College Dublin

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Perceiving predators: Understanding how plants ‘sense’ herbivore attack

by Tokyo University of Science

Perceiving predators: Understanding how plants 'sense' herbivore attack
Recently, Professor Gen-ichiro Arimura from Tokyo University of Science, Japan, encapsulated the research on the herbivory-sensing mechanism of plants through elicitors. Commenting of the immense value of these elicitors, Prof. Arimura states, “This review focuses mainly on elicitors because they are timely, novel, and have potential biotechnological applications.” Credit: Gen-ichiro Arimura, Tokyo University of Science

Nature has its way of maintaining balance. This statement rightly holds true for plants that are eaten by herbivores—insects or even mammals. Interestingly, these plants do not just silently allow themselves to be consumed and destroyed; in fact, they have evolved a defense system to warn them of predator attacks and potentially even ward them off. The defense systems arise as a result of inner and outer cellular signaling in the plants, as well as ecological cues. Plants have developed several ways of sensing damage; a lot of these involve the sensing of various “elicitor” molecules produced by either the predator or the plants themselves and initiation of an “SOS signal” of sorts.

In a recently published review in the journal Trends in Plant Science, Professor Gen-ichiro Arimura from Tokyo University of Science, Japan, encapsulates the research on the herbivory-sensing mechanism of plants through elicitors. Commenting of the immense value of these elicitors, Prof. Arimura states, “This review focuses mainly on elicitors because they are timely, novel, and have potential biotechnological applications.”

When the same herbivorous animal comes to eat the plant multiple times, the plant learns to recognize its feeding behavior and records the “molecular pattern” associated with it. This is termed “herbivore-associated molecular patterns” or HAMPs. HAMPs are innate elicitors. Other plant elicitors include plant products present inside cells that leak out because of the damage caused by herbivory. Interestingly, when an herbivorous insect eats the plant, the digestion products of the plant cell walls and other cellular components become part of the oral secretions (OS) of the insect, which can also function as an elicitor!

Prof. Arimura highlights the fact that with the advancement of high-throughput gene- and protein-detecting systems, the characterization of elicitors of even specific and peculiar types of herbivores, such as those that suck cell sap and do not produce sufficient amounts of OS, has become possible. The proteins present in the salivary glands of such insects could be potential elicitors as they enter the plant during feeding. He explains, “RNA-seq and proteomic analyses of the salivary glands of sucking herbivores have led to the recent characterization of several elicitor proteins, including a mucin-like salivary protein and mite elicitor proteins, which serve as elicitors in the leaves of the host plants upon their secretion into plants during feeding.”

The review also highlights some peculiar elicitors like the eggs and pheromones of insects that plants can detect and initiate a defense response against. In some special cases, the symbiotic bacteria living inside the insect’s gut can also regulate the defense systems of the plants.

And now that we have understood different types of elicitors, the question remains—what signaling mechanisms do the plants use to communicate the SOS signal?

So far, it has been hypothesized that the signaling is made possible by proteins transported through the vascular tissue of plants. Interestingly, there is evidence of airborne signaling across plants, by a phenomenon called “talking plants.” Upon damage, plants release volatile chemicals into the air, which can be perceived by neighboring plants. There is also evidence of epigenetic regulation of defense systems wherein plants maintain a sort of ‘genetic memory’ of the insects that have attacked them and can fine-tune the defense response accordingly for future attacks.

Given the improvement in knowledge of the mechanisms of plant defense systems, we can embrace the possibility of a “genetic” form of pest control that can help us circumvent the use of chemical pesticides, which, with all their risks, have become a sort of “necessary evil” for farmers. This could usher in modern, scientifically sound ways of organic farming that would free agricultural practices from harmful chemicals.


Explore further How a molecular ‘alarm’ system protects plants from predators


More information: Gen-ichiro Arimura, Making Sense of the Way Plants Sense Herbivores, Trends in Plant Science (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2020.11.001Journal information:Trends in Plant Science Provided by Tokyo University of Science

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 Crop disease basics that matter

TAGS: FUNGICIDEPEANUTSCORNCOTTONJason Brock, University of Georgia, Bugwood.orgsouthern corn rust

I would like to outline a few basics when deploying disease management strategies for row crops, such as corn, soybean, peanuts and cotton.

Bob Kemerait | Jan 29, 2021

Disease and nematode management for your 2021 crops starts now. Now is the time to carefully select the most appropriate varieties, to settle upon most effective crop rotations and to begin “filling in the blanks” for choice of fungicides and nematicides.  

Working with county agents, consultants and growers to develop best management plans, I assume that we share some basic understanding of diseases and nematodes.  This is not a fair assumption if no one has ever taken the time to teach you.https://ba27f553dad04d5abb5535d198f6ee3d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

In mid-December, I invited my team and a few other student workers to lunch anticipating the Christmas Season.  Most of my guests selected meals of moderate, even modest cost, practicing what I thought was established etiquette: consideration for your host.  A pair of young men, however, proceeded to order the largest, most expensive steak on the menu and then ordered additional sides.  Neither cleaned their plate, but both expressed with satisfaction that they had sampled “the very best” that this restaurant had to offer. 

While eating, I noted that one of the students (most at the table attended college) was wearing a “Magellan” T-shirt.  Always the professor, I asked if anyone could tell me ANYTHING about Magellan.  There was silence.  After an awkward period, one young man replied, “Dr. Bob, I thought that this was just the name of a brand of shirts.”  Needless to say, I was stunned at what I felt were breaches in common etiquette and common knowledge.  Later, after considerable angst, I realized that the problem was less with my young guests and more with the fact that no one had ever taken the time to teach them.  I won’t make that mistake with growers.

To best protect your crop against diseases and nematodes, it is essential to understand the basics. So I sleep better at night, I would like to outline a few basics when deploying management strategies to our row crops:ADVERTISING

  1. Fungicides can be essential tools for the control of crop diseases.  Unlike insecticides, where we often talk of thresholds, or herbicides, where we consider the size of the weed, fungicides are best used preventatively.  Once established, diseases become much more difficult to control, largely because of difficulties in reaching the target after infection occurs. 
  2. Fungicides can be split into two broad groups, protectants and systemics.  Protectant fungicides are preventative and MUST be applied prior to infection.  Systemic fungicides are best used preventatively; however, because they can penetrate plant tissues, they have some curative activity.  Curative activity is limited, and like cancer in humans, if plant diseases are not caught early enough, they will be impossible to stop. 
  3. Even in the absence of a specific crop, disease-causing pathogens and parasitic nematodes survive in a field, poised to attack at the next opportunity.  Survival occurs when the next crop is also susceptible, or when weeds are susceptible.  Survival occurs when pathogens and nematodes hunker down, killing time until a suitable host returns. 
  4. Some pathogens, like those causing rust diseases, must have a living host; in the absence of a susceptible crop, they remain a threat only until their short-lived spores die.  Other pathogens survive in infected crop debris.  Peanut leaf spot, corn blight, and target spot pathogens survive in the debris left at harvest. A few pathogens, such as the peanut white mold fungus, produce survival structures that can remain viable for years.
  5. Warm and moist conditions are favorable for development of diseases.  First, growth and development of many pathogens is enhanced during periods of warmth.  Second, infection by fungi and bacteria, and activity of plant-parasitic nematodes occurs more readily with wet weather.  Third, disease-causing organisms are spread over significant distances, in wind and blowing rain.  Finally, excessive rain can keep growers out of the field and frim timely fungicide applications.
  6. The value of a resistant variety should be fully recognized.  Where a variety has complete resistance, the plants may be immune to damage from a disease or nematode.  Where a variety has partial” or rate-limiting resistance, development of disease will be delayed and slower as compared to a susceptible variety.  Planting resistant varieties results in less need for use of fungicides and nematicides; it may also reduce the risk to losses in future crops as well.
  7. Timeliness is critical for best and most effective use of fungicides.  Timeliness may require applications when the crop reaches a critical growth stage.  Timeliness may require early detection of a disease.  Putting a scout and “boots” in the field are essential l for the best management.

Having a “basic” understanding matters in life and it matters in farming.  My initial angst at young men and women for poor manners and lack of common knowledge was replaced with understanding that someone should have spent more time teaching them.  I feel the same for crop production; guys like me need to take the time to make sure you have what you need for success.  You deserve it.

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EurekAlert

NEWS RELEASE 6-JAN-2021

Researchers discover how a bio-pesticide works against spider mites

TOKYO UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE AND TECHNOLOGY

Research NewsSHARE PRINT E-MAILVolume 90% 

VIDEO: THE LARVA ROTATES IN THE SPHERICAL EGG TO CUT THE CHORION FOR HATCHING; 32× ACCELERATED. view more 

CREDIT: TAKESHI SUZUKI, TUAT. THIS WAS PUBLISHED IN ENG LIFE SCI. 2020;20:525-534

Scientists have uncovered why a food-ingredient-based pesticide made from safflower and cottonseed oils is effective against two-spotted spider mites that attack over a thousand species of plants while sparing the mites’ natural predators.

An international team of scientists has uncovered how a bio-pesticide works against spider mites while sparing their natural predators.

The findings, published in the journal Engineering in Life Sciences on October 7, 2020, could present farmers and gardeners with an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic pesticides.

Food ingredients have long been used as alternative pesticides against arthropod pests, such as insects, ticks, and mites, because they tend to be less toxic to mammals and pose less impact to the environment. The way bio-pesticides work – often through physical properties instead of chemical ones – also reduces the likelihood that the targeted pest will develop resistance to the pesticide, in turn reducing the need to use greater quantities of the pesticide or develop new ones.

One such bio-pesticide, made from safflower and cottonseed oils–which takes the brand name Suffoil–has been known to be effective against two-spotted spider mites (Tetranychus urticae), a species of arachnid that attacks more than 1,100 species of plants. Suffoil has no effect on another species of mite (Neoseiulus californicus) that naturally preys on the spider mite.

A spider mite normally hatches by cutting the eggshell, or “chorion,” with its appendages as it rotates in the egg. The rotation in turn helps it cut more of the chorion and eases hatching. The spider mite embryo also uses silk threads surrounding the eggs, woven by its parent to house the eggs on the underside of leaves, which may act as leverage to aid this rotation.

To understand how Suffoil works against spider mites, the researchers dipped spider mite eggs in Suffoil and examined them using powerful microscopes. They also used spider mite eggs dipped in water as a control group.

They found that Suffoil partly covered the surface of spider mite eggs and the surrounding silk threads. More importantly, they observed that the embryonic rotational movement essential for hatching was absent or stopped in the Suffoil-covered eggs. It appears that the oil seeps into the eggs through the cut chorion, making the inside too slick for the embryo to rotate, thus preventing the embryo from hatching properly.

“The bio-pesticide works by preventing the spider mite embryo from rotating within its eggshell for hatching,” said Takeshi Suzuki, a bio-engineer at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT) and senior author of the study.

“It may also weaken the toughness of silk threads and reduce the anchoring effect of the egg on the substrate,” said Suzuki.

The findings also offer an explanation as to why Suffoil has no effect on the spider mites’ natural predators – they don’t use rotation to hatch out of their eggs. This means that Suffoil may be used in conjunction with the spider mites’ natural predators.

###

Other contributors include Naoki Takeda, Ayumi Takata, Yuka Arai, Kazuhiro Sasaya, Shimpei Noyama and Noureldin Abuelfadl Ghazy, all affiliated with TUAT, Shigekazu Wakisaka at OAT Agrio Co., Ltd., and Dagmar Voigt at Technische Universität Dresden.

This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI, Grant/Award Number: 18H02203; JSPS Invitational Fellowships for Research in Japan, Grant/Award Number: L19542; Equal Opportunities Support of the School of Science at the Technische Universität of Dresden, Germany

For more information about the Suzuki laboratory, please visit http://web.tuat.ac.jp/~tszk/

Original publication:

Naoki Takeda Ayumi Takata Yuka Arai Kazuhiro Sasaya Shimpei Noyama Shigekazu Wakisaka Noureldin Abuelfadl Ghazy Dagmar Voigt Takeshi Suzuki. A vegetable oil-based biopesticide with ovicidal activity against the two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae Koch. Eng Life Sci. 2020;20:525-534. https://doi.org/10.1002/elsc.202000042

About Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT):

TUAT is a distinguished university in Japan dedicated to science and technology. TUAT focuses on agriculture and engineering that form the foundation of industry, and promotes education and research fields that incorporate them. Boasting a history of over 140 years since our founding in 1874, TUAT continues to boldly take on new challenges and steadily promote fields. With high ethics, TUAT fulfills social responsibility in the capacity of transmitting science and technology information towards the construction of a sustainable society where both human beings and nature can thrive in a symbiotic relationship. For more information, please visit http://www.tuat.ac.jp/en/.

Contact:

Takeshi Suzuki, PhD
Associate Professor
Graduate School of Bio-Applications and Systems Engineering
Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT), Japan
tszk@cc.tuat.ac.jp

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Fightback starts against fall armyworm

Published Yesterday at 09:35 AM

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities
The Honourable Mark Furner

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) has received approval to import a biopesticide for research purposes, marking a significant step in the fight to combat fall armyworm (FAW).

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) approval to import Fawligen® meant the Queensland Government could start working on management packages for impacted industries.

“Since the initial detection of FAW in Australia in January 2020, DAF has worked closely with industry to find ways to address the threat posed by this voracious invasive pest to Queensland’s agriculture industry,” Mr Furner said.

“Fawligen® is a biopesticide targeting the FAW caterpillar which ingests virus particles, becomes infected and dies, spreading the virus to other FAW larvae in the crop.

“DAF first applied in March 2020 to bring Fawligen®, which is produced in the US by Australian company AgBiTech, into Australia.

“Getting DAWE’s approval to import Fawligen®, a naturally occurring caterpillar virus which targets FAW, is a key step forward as it has the potential to be a game changer for producers.”

Mr Furner said having access to Fawligen® would allow DAF researchers to immediately commence small scale work with AgBiTech to assess its performance on FAW populations, under local conditions and in various crops. 

“This will generate information for an Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Authority (APVMA) regulatory submission,” Mr Furner said.

“Natural biological control agents, like Fawligen®, reduce grower reliance on conventional insecticides for FAW control, reducing the risk of insecticide resistance development.

“Another significant advantage of this biopesticide is that it only kills the FAW and is non-toxic to beneficial organisms including honeybees and beneficial natural enemies such as spiders, wasps and ladybeetles.”

AgBiTech’s General Manager for Australia, Philip Armytage, said in response to the spread and rise of FAW as a global pest, in 2015 AgBiTech established a production facility in the US to manufacture Fawligen® for Brazil and other global markets.

“At the time, Fawligen® could not be produced in Australia as the FAW was not present,” Mr Armytage said.

“Globally, Fawligen® is AgBiTech’s biggest product by volume, and we are excited to be able to bring our technology back home to Australia for our farmers.

“We will accelerate the project, working closely with DAF and use all our international experience to support the commencement of the registration work as soon as possible.”

Mr Furner said DAF had a long history of working closely with AgBiTech in supporting the development of the Helicoverpa biocontrol ViVUS Max® in the early 2000s. 

“Australia is the global leader in the use of native and introduced biocontrol agents,” he said.

“We have seen excellent results in the control of similar caterpillar pests such as Helicoverpa as well as with silverleaf whitefly and prickly pear.

“In the meantime, growers should remain vigilant for the presence of FAW and check for the latest insecticide permits applying to fall armyworm using the APVMA’s permit portal.”

The latest advice about the impacts and management of fall armyworm on key crops can be found on the fall armyworm web page at business.qld.gov.au/fallarmyworm.

ENDS

Minister Furner media contact:                   Ron Goodman            0427 781 920

AgBiTech / Fawligen media contact:         Philip Armytage          0488 263585

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Cedar fight goes across fence and state lines

TAGS: CONSERVATIONLIVESTOCKCurt ArensA few members of the Bristow, Neb. area crew pose in front of the trucks they purchased to help on prescribed burnsCRUCIAL CREW: A few members of the Bristow, Neb., area crew pose in front of the trucks they bought to help on prescribed burns. Over the past eight years, this group has burned more than 30,000 acres in their fight to reclaim grasslands from invasive eastern red cedar.Working together has been a successful formula for Nebraska and South Dakota advocates of prescribed fire.

Curt Arens | Dec 23, 2020

Gathering landowners to work together on prescribed burn projects has been a winning model in the successful defeat of eastern red cedar encroachment on grazing lands. Normally, prescribed burn associations work across fence lines with neighboring landowners.

Over the past decade, eastern members of the Niobrara Valley Prescribed Fire Association, covering much of north-central Nebraska, have not only reached across fence lines, but also state lines into neighboring South Dakota, to beat the invasion of ERC.

Related: New strategy in battle against invasive cedars

It started in 2010 when Jerald Dennis, Bristow, Neb., sheared ERC trees in a large portion of family-owned grasslands on the south shore of Lake Francis Case in South Dakota, behind Fort Randall Dam. He piled the dead cedar trees for curing. In 2011, Dennis deferred grazing on the tract, to grow fuel for the prescribed burn he was planning the following spring.

“It took an entire year to plan the burn, coordinating between five landowners, four government agencies along with local law enforcement and fire departments,” Dennis explains. On that burn with Dennis, Dave Steffen from Gregory, S.D., and other interested landowners in the area watched as observers.

Dennis has worked at Nebraska State Bank in Bristow for nearly 40 years. Most of that time, he has also served on the Bristow Fire Department. His family owns about 2,000 acres of pasture in both states, so he’s been involved in prescribed burning for the past 13 years. The Prescribed Fire Association that Dennis works with has conducted burns on just over 30,000 acres since 2012.

They normally develop their burn schedule at a meeting each February, so 10 to 12 people can plan to be involved with each burn. The local members of the association bought two Army surplus pickup trucks to transport skid water pumping units with 250-gallon tanks, hoses and a reel they borrow from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

The burn near Fort Randall encompassed 3,145 acres. “We had a well-seasoned crew of 12 from Nebraska working that burn,” Dennis says. “It also helped that we had Lake Francis Case to the north and a highway to the south.”

Steffen watched the Nebraska crew and became interested in conducting more prescribed burns locally. “The following year, Steffen and a few other interested parties came down from South Dakota and attended our local meeting, and a few controlled burns,” Dennis says. “We collaborated on burns in South Dakota by helping that group develop burn plans and assisting with the burns. Our motivation was to teach their group how to safely conduct controlled burns, so they could teach others in the state.”

In 2017, the South Dakota group formed its own Mid-Missouri River Prescribed Burn Association —the first in the state — with Steffen and several neighbors as driving forces in the effort.

“Cedar trees were just beginning to become a problem,” Steffen recalls. “I looked at maps that showed the encroachment problems, especially big bunches along the Missouri River.”  The aerial maps showed about one-third of Gregory County with cedar tree problems. “Thanks to funds from the South Dakota Grasslands Coalition, we sent out a questionnaire, asking landowners about cedars on their land, and if they would consider prescribed fire as a control.”

Jerald DennisA prescribed burnLIGHTING IT UP:  Two years before the actual burn near Fort Randall Dam in South Dakota, Jerald Dennis sheared several large cedar trees and pushed them up against mature live trees. In 2012, when they started their prescribed burn in that area, the sheared trees ignited easily and burned into the live trees.

Steffen says that working with the Nebraska group helped their association in South Dakota organize and conduct burns of its own.

“We’ve had burns in the hundreds of acres so far, mostly in Gregory County, but also in Charles Mix County. That included a couple of big ranches,” Steffen says. “In many cases, nonresident landowners contact us about conducting a burn on their property. In most cases, we like it when landowners participate in the burn themselves, but with some nonresidents, we accept a payment for doing the burns.”

The Mid-Missouri River group now covers four counties, including Gregory, Charles Mix, Brule and Lyman.

“From the prescribed burns, we have witnessed tremendous recovery of warm-season native grasses on those grasslands where there was grazing management to go along with it,” Steffen says. “There has been fantastic recovery to a typical native plant community in the rough hills and breaks of the Missouri River.”

Cedar treesDEAD TIMBER:  At specific heights, cedar trees do not stand a chance against a well-run prescribed burn. Most of the trees pictured here are completed destroyed. Grass recovery in an area like this is surprisingly rapid.

Steffen says that landowners are amazed with the amount of new grass growth there has been within a year’s time. “Keep in mind, we’ve had plenty of rain in recent years to grow grass, so we have been above normal in soil moisture,” he adds.

For the group based in Bristow, fire has been a worthwhile tool in their war against ERC for more than a decade. “We add new, younger members to our group every year,” Dennis says. “Most of them are members of the fire department, so they are comfortable with conducting a burn. We all work together, and it is great knowing that the other guys have got your back.”

Learn more about Nebraska prescribed fire associations at the state’s Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever website, nebraskapf.com. Learn about the Mid-Missouri River Prescribed Burn Association of South Dakota online at midmissouririverpba.com.RELATEDYoung farmers get involved in ag groupsNovember 17, 2020Landowners band together to confront eastern red cedarJune 22, 2020

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Management of Fall Armyworm: The IPM Innovation Lab Approach

https://ipmil.cired.vt.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/IPM-IL-FAW-Management.pdf.

By:

Sara Hendery

Communications Coordinator

Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management

Hendery, Sara saraeh91@vt.edu

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Sustainable Pulse

US EPA Evaluation Finds Glyphosate Likely to Injure or Kill 93% of Endangered Species

Posted on Nov 28 2020 – 3:21pm by Sustainable Pulse« PREVIOUS| Categorized as

The Environmental Protection Agency released a draft biological evaluation on Wednesday finding that glyphosate is likely to injure or kill 93% of the plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Endangered Species

The long-anticipated draft biological evaluation released by the agency’s pesticide office found that 1,676 endangered species are likely to be harmed by glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and the world’s most-used pesticide.

The draft biological opinion also found that glyphosate adversely modifies critical habitat for 759 endangered species, or 96% of all species for which critical habitat has been designated.

“The hideous impacts of glyphosate on the nation’s most endangered species are impossible to ignore now,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Glyphosate use is so widespread that even the EPA’s notoriously industry-friendly pesticide office had to conclude that there are hardly any endangered species that can manage to evade its toxic impacts.”

Glyphosate Box

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Hundreds of millions of pounds of glyphosate are used each year in the United States, mostly in agriculture but also on lawns, gardens, landscaping, roadsides, schoolyards, national forests, rangelands, power lines and more.

According to the EPA, 280 million pounds of glyphosate are used just in agriculture, and glyphosate is sprayed on 298 million acres of crop land each year. Eighty-four percent of glyphosate pounds applied in agriculture are applied to soy, corn and cotton, commodity crops that are genetically engineered to tolerate being drenched with quantities of glyphosate that would normally kill a plant.

Glyphosate is also widely used in oats, wheat, pulses, fruit and vegetable production.

“If we want to stop the extinction of amazing creatures like monarch butterflies, we need the EPA to take action to stop the out-of-control spraying of deadly poisons,” Burd continued.

The EPA has, for decades, steadfastly refused to comply with its obligation under the Endangered Species Act to assess the harms of pesticides to protected plants and animals. But it was finally forced to do this evaluation under the terms of a 2016 legal agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Emails obtained in litigation brought against Monsanto/Bayer by cancer victims and their families have uncovered a disturbingly cozy relationship between the agency and the company on matters involving the glyphosate risk assessment.

In one example, when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it would be reviewing glyphosate’s safety, an EPA official assured Monsanto he would work to thwart the review, saying, “If I can kill this, I should get a medal.” The Health and Human Services review was delayed for three years.on.”

Earlier this year, relying on confidential industry research, the EPA reapproved glyphosate. The EPA’s assessment contradicts a 2015 World Health Organization analysis of published research that determined glyphosate is a probable carcinogen.

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Matt Hayes:

‘Researchers help inform cassava breeding worldwide’

“Scientists in Cornell’s NextGen Cassava project have uncovered new details regarding cassava’s genetic architecture that may help breeders more easily pinpoint traits for one of Africa’s most vital crops.

Their findings are reported in a study published July 31 in Plant Molecular Biology.

The scientists analyzed large breeding populations measured extensively over successive years and stages of selection in multi-environment field trials in Nigeria. The genome-wide association analysis explored genomic regions most responsible for desirable traits in cassava, a food crop that provides the main source of calories for 500 million people across the globe.

The scientists found more than 40 quantitative trait loci associated with a total of 14 traits, responsible for characteristics such as disease responses, nutritional quality and yield. The traits were classified broadly into four categories – biotic stress, quality, plant agronomy and agro-morphology.

“Our findings provide critical new entries into the catalogue of major loci available to cassava breeders,” said Ismail Rabbi, a molecular geneticist and plant breeder at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and a member of the NextGen project. “These markers should greatly improve cassava research and provide another powerful tool for the breeders’ toolbox.”

“Cassava is an incredibly useful food and industrial crop today and will be more so in the future as climate change reshapes agriculture everywhere, but first we must better understand its complex genome,” said Chiedozie Egesi, NextGen program director and co-author on the study.

Based in the Department of Global Development, the NextGen Cassava Breeding project supports scientists from many disciplines with advanced technologies and methods. The project works to empower smallholder cassava farmers in sub-Saharan Africa by developing, releasing and distributing improved cassava varieties.

Plant diseases and pests like cassava mosaic disease (CMD) and cassava green mite are major constraints to cassava production in Africa, India and across Asia, including Vietnam and Thailand. Infections of CMD can lead to yield losses of 82%, or more than 30 million tons each year.

“A complete understanding of cassava’s genetic architecture is the critical step needed to accelerating genetic improvement and bring lasting benefits to farmers and consumers who depend on this crop for food and income throughout the world,” said Egesi, who’s also a visiting scientist in the Department of Global Development and an adjunct professor of plant breeding and genetics in the School of Integrative Plant Science, in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

While the findings revealed novel genomic regions, it also revealed additional markers associated with previously measured traits.

Data from the study was made freely available through several commercial genotyping service vendors. The scientists plan further studies using germplasm from other regions, including East Africa and Latin America, which they say should bolster the catalogue of major effect loci available for molecular breeding.

Study co-authors include Cornell adjunct professor Jean-Luc Jannink and researchers from IITA and the National Root Crops Research Institute in Nigeria. Researchers from the Boyce Thompson Institute and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service also contributed.

NextGen Cassava is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and by UK Aid, a British government initiative.

Matt Hayes is associate director for communications for Global Development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.”

By Matt Hayes for Cornell University

Publication date: Thu 27 Aug 2020

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