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ABC RURAL

Invasive insect fall armyworm on the march, but scientists fight back with an oozing virus and an egg-attacking wasp

ABC Rural / By Jennifer NicholsPosted Sat 24 Jul 2021 at 4:59pmSaturday 24 Jul 2021 at 4:59pm

A close up of a caterpillar on a plant leaf
The fall armyworm has been detected in parts of every state and territory except SA.(Supplied: DPIRD)

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  • A virus that oozes out through a caterpillar’s skin before exterminating it is being investigated as a way to combat an invasive insect that is devastating some Australian crops.

Key points:

  • Invasive fall armyworm has spread through most of Australia
  • An emergency permit now allows the use of a virus against it
  • Beneficial insects are helping farmers fight fall armyworm

Since fall armyworm was first found in the Torres Strait in January 2020, it has spread to every state and territory except South Australia. 

Their moths can travel up to 400 kilometres a night. 

Researchers are looking at chemical-free options to attack the difficult-to-control bug, including a species-specific virus that oozes out of a caterpillar’s skin before the larva disintegrates.

Dr Melina Miles, who leads the Queensland government’s field crops entomology team in Toowoomba, said so far most farmers were using chemicals to attack the insect.

A lady wearing a hat crouches in a field of corn with chewed leaves.
Melina Miles says fall armyworm has resulted in significant challenges for crop growers.(Supplied: Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries)

But she expected that use to drop because winter yields were still good despite damage from the caterpillars.

“Through the work that we’ve been doing at depth, we now know that there are a whole suite of natural enemies, parasitoids and predators, that are attacking fall armyworms,” she said. 

“You can have some confidence that there’s some natural mortality going to occur so it’s not just left to you, as the grower, to control it with insecticides.”

Natural enemies

Non-chemical options, including spraying biopesticide onto the leaves of affected plants, could be used in conjunction with beneficial insects to reduce numbers.

Tiny wasps on the tip of a paint brush.
Tiny adult Trichogramma pretiosum wasps on the tip of a fine paint brush.(Supplied: Melina Miles)

Last year, authorities approved an emergency permit for the use of Fawligen, an organically-certified biopesticide that contains a caterpillar virus that only kills fall armyworm.

“As the larva are eating, they’ll take up these little virus particles and they are only activated in a very alkaline insect gut,” Dr Miles said. 

“It penetrates the gut and starts to replicate and the larva stops feeding. Then the virus eventually starts to ooze out through the skin. Eventually it gets to the point where the larva disintegrates, releasing all these virus particles into the crop.

“We just need to do a little more work to understand how growers might best deploy it.” 

A disgusting looking caterpillar.
Dr Miles says within 4-8 days of fall armyworm being infected with Fawligen, it turns into a sack of virus that eventually explodes.(Supplied: Melina Miles)

Four modern insecticides have had varying success against the pest, but fall armyworm have developed a high resistance to synthetic pyrethroids and moderate resistance to carbamate insecticides.

Third generation dairy farmer Don Davies was looking for a chemical free solution when he ordered tiny Trichogramma wasp eggs.

A farmer wearing a cap, blue shirt and vest stands in thigh deep crops with his dairy cows behind him.
Regenerative dairy farmer Don Davies paid to have Trichogramma egg parasitoid wasps released on his property and was pleased with the results.(Supplied: Don Davies)

He spread them throughout his young corn crop to battle a fall armyworm invasion at east Cooyar, on the Darling Downs.

“They took a few weeks to work, but within a month or so we were getting pretty well on top of them,” Mr Davies said.

Black eggs on a stalk with fuzz on them.
The tiny Trichogramma pretiosum parasitoid wasp targets the eggs of fall armyworm.(Supplied: Melina Miles)

For the past thirty years he has avoided using fertilisers by using multi-species cropping on land his family has farmed for more than 100 years.

Brassicas including turnips, combined with clover and herbs, improve the soil and provide habitat and nectar to beneficial insects.

“We were counting up to 200 beneficials per metre in the corn crop,” he said.

“There was up to seven different lady beetles, and there were all these other natural predators there as well as these Trichogramma wasps that seemed to get right on top of the fall armyworm.”

“Some corn stalks were quite devastated with it, but they recovered quite well.”

The caterpillars favour maize, sweet corn, sorghum, capsicum and C4 pastures, which are more adapted to warm or hot seasonal conditions, when fall armyworm are most active.

Ladybirds on the tassles of a cob of corn.
Beneficial insects including ladybirds helped Don Davies control fall armyworm.(Supplied: Don Davies)

Breeding beneficial bugs

Paul Jones from Bugs for Bugs breeds predatory species of insects and mites for mass release on farms.

Ladybirds, lacewings, pirate bugs, and the tiny parasitoid Trichogramma wasps have proven biological allies against fall armyworm.

A man holds up a sheet of carboard and a small container containing insects.
Paul Jones breeds beneficial insects and sends Trichogramma wasp eggs out in compartments in this sheet of cardboard.(Jennifer Nichols)

“Growers have been using a lot of chemicals to control the pest but because it’s so prolific and aggressive, and the resistance factor is such a big issue, it’s very difficult to control,” Mr Jones said.

“We’re working on a premise of the more diverse and the higher the density of beneficials, the better.”

He said bugs were not cheap.

“They are probably equivalent to the expensive chemicals as there are a lot of labour inputs in producing bugs, but the outcome is far more profitable to the grower if he doesn’t have to spray and he’s coming out with a crop which is not damaged with the pest,” he said.

Badly chewed corn leaves.
Dairy farmer Don Davies found fall armyworm after noticing damage on his maize crop.(Supplied: Don Davies)

Dr Miles said the challenge with insecticides was reaching the fall armyworm on the plants.

“Whereas for parasitoids, and predators, that’s much less of a challenge. They can get down into little nooks and crannies, and under the leaves, and so on, much more easily than a grower could get droplets of insecticide,” she said.Posted 24 Jul 202124 Jul 2021Share

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After decimating crops across the world, the fall armyworm has moved into new Australian territory

Fall armyworm on corn plants

Biosecurity shock as armyworm spreads rapidly south from Torres Strait

A caterpillar, about two centimetres long, in the palm of a person's hand

A very hungry caterpillar that decimated crops around the world has arrived in Australia

More on:

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Biopesticides ‘as good as pesticides’ to protect wheat

© Yorkshire Agricultural Society© Yorkshire Agricultural Society

Biological alternatives to chemical pesticides can be used to help deliver comparable wheat yields, according to new research.

The Farmer Scientist Network, supported by Yorkshire Agricultural Society, has been carrying out comparative trials involving spring and winter wheat varieties – see the video below.

The trials found that wheat can be produced using biocontrol technologies, alone or in combination with conventional crop chemistry, while still obtaining similar yields and grain quality.

See also: Why biopesticides will play a bigger role on arable farms

Farmers are under mounting pressure to produce high-quality food that consumers demand due to a series of chemical bans that have limited their toolkit to combat diseases and pests at a time of increasingly challenging weather patterns.

The use of bioprotectants can reduce the environmental impacts associated with chemicals, say the researchers, who hope the trials involving spring and winter wheat varieties could be developed into a viable, widespread solution for growers in the future.

Farmers and scientists joined forces to carry out the Crop Health North project, which aims to find scientific and technological solutions to agricultural challenges.

EU funding

The study was carried out over three years across field sites at Stockbridge Technology Centre and Newcastle University’s Nafferton and Cockle Park Farms. The trials using bioprotectants have been funded through the EU’s European Innovation Partnership (EIP-Agri).

Explore more Know How

Visit our Know How centre for practical farming advice

Bioprotectant specialist Dr Roma Gwynn, director of Biorationale, worked closely with farmers and agronomists to design the trials, having collectively identified an urgent need to explore new, innovative crop protection products.

Bioprotectants are crop protection products found in nature or derived from it, and so they degrade easily once applied to crops.

During the trials, bioprotectants were applied to spring wheat varieties, Willow and Mulika, and winter wheat varieties, Skyfall, Leeds and Sundance.

Three treatment programmes were used, one using conventional chemical crop protection products, one only using bioprotectants and another involving integrated pest management techniques.

The wheat varieties were chosen due to either their susceptibility to diseases or various resistance ratings.

Next steps

David George, reader in precision agronomy at Newcastle University, said: “The project has quite clearly shown that bioprotectants can perform just as well as synthetic crop protection chemistry, especially in integrated programmes.

“The next steps forward are to take the management regimes that have performed very well in our studies to date, and try and look at how we can optimise their use.”

James Standen, director of farming at Newcastle University, added: “We are losing active chemical ingredients to protect crops from pests due to the ‘precautionary principle’ and some crops have now developed a resistance to some chemical treatments, so identifying new opportunities for farmers to help grow profitable wheat crops is really important.”

The Farmer Scientist Network will share the findings during a free webinar from 2-3pm on Wednesday 28 July. Register free for the Crop Health North webinar.

What are biopesticides?

Biopesticides are mass-produced, biologically based agents used for the control of plant pests. They include:

  • Living organisms (natural enemies) – Invertebrates, nematodes and micro-organisms
  • Naturally occurring substances – Plant abstracts; Semiochemicals (eg insect pheromones)
  • Genes (US) – Plant incorporated products

Source: Justin Greaves, University of Warwick

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Nigeria can attain sustainable food security using biological pesticides – Don

ByNaija247news Media, New YorkJune 23, 2021 010 Share

ood Security

June 24, 2021 

June 24, 2021 Naija247news Media, New Yorkhttps://www.naija247news.com/Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

By Akeem Abas
Ibadan, June 18, 2021 A Professor of Nematology, Prof. Timothy Olabiyi, says sustainable food security can be attained through the use of biological pesticides.
Olabiyi disclosed this on Friday while delivering the 45th inaugural lecture of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso.
He said that the only sustainable food security measure is the use of non-synthetic chemicals.
He noted that the world population is increasing on daily basis and many have suffered ill-health as a result of food poison and toxin which are also increasing.
“Sustainable food security can only be attained through the use of biological pesticides that are ecologically friendly and bio-degradable with no chemical residues leading to safe-to-eat food.
“Mass production of biological pesticides and making it available to farmers is germane to disease management and sustainable food security in Nigeria,” he said.
The university don called on Federal Government to establish Biological Pesticide Production Industries that could produce adequate and required biological pesticides.

“Such industries will provide jobs for the youth aside from the fact that the teaming population will have the right to eat safe food,” he said.

He said that the presence of farmer’s hidden enemy is inevitable, adding that they are present everywhere and all year round.

Olabiyi said that sustainable management of these disease-causing micro-organisms is our best option.

According to him, “my target is to produce biological nematicide for farmers in Nigeria.

“I am almost at the point of patenting those products, so that farmers can get to the shop and buy it for their farms.
“At the moment, I have supplied so many farmers nationwide, even in the North East and West.

“They have used it effectively and have given me very good report that it is good and we can use it to replace the synthetic nematicide,” he said.

He called for support to set up an industry for the production of biological nematicide for farmers in Nigeria.
A nematicide is a type of chemical pesticide used to kill plant-parasitic nematodes.

The varsity don said that the issue of farmers-herders’ clashes was due to climate change, saying he could not blame either of the parties.

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Expert calls for healthy food cultivation in Nigeria

By Chidinma Ewunonu-Aluko Ibadan, Oct. 16, 2020 Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, Executive Director, National Horticultural Research Institute, Ibadan, says it is imperative for the country to increase agricultural productivity by cultivating healthy food that is diverse in nature. Olaniyan made the remark in an interview with newsmen on Friday in Ibadan…October 16, 2020

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New screening method could lead to microbe-based replacements for chemical pesticides

by Tokyo University of Science

pesticides
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Plants have evolved unique immunity mechanisms that they can activate upon detecting the presence of a pathogen. Interestingly, the presence of some nonpathogenic microorganisms can also prompt a plant to activate its systemic immunity mechanisms, and some studies have shown that pretreating agricultural crops with such “immunity-activating” nonpathogenic microorganisms can leave the crops better prepared to fight off infections from pathogenic microorganisms. In effect, this means that immunity-activating nonpathogenic microorganisms can function like vaccines for plants, providing a low-risk stimulus for the plant’s immune system that prepares it for dealing with genuine threats. These are exciting findings for crop scientists because they suggest the possibility of using such pretreatment as a form of biological pest control that would reduce the need for agricultural pesticides.

However, before pretreatment with nonpathogenic microorganisms can become a standard agricultural technology, scientists need a way to screen microorganisms for the ability to stimulate plant immune systems without harming the plants. There is currently no simple method for evaluating the ability of microorganisms to activate plant immune systems. Conventional methods involve the use of whole plants and microorganisms, and this inevitably makes conventional screening a time-consuming and expensive affair. To address this problem, Associate Professor Toshiki Furuya and Professor Kazuyuki Kuchitsu of Tokyo University of Science and their colleagues decided to develop a screening strategy involving cultured plant cells. A description of their method appears in a paper recently published in Scientific Reports.

The first step in this screening strategy involves incubating the candidate microorganism together with BY-2 cells, which are tobacco plant cells known for their rapid and stable growth rates. The next step is to treat the BY-2 cells with cryptogein, which is a protein secreted by fungus-like pathogenic microorganisms that can elicit immune responses from tobacco plants. A key part of the cryptogein-induced immune responses is the production of a class of chemicals called reactive oxygen species (ROS), and scientists can easily measure cryptogein-induced ROS production and use it as a metric for evaluating the effects of the nonpathogenic microorganisms. To put it simply, an effective pretreatment agent will increase the BY-2 cells’ ROS production levels (i.e., cause the cells to exhibit stronger immune system activation) in response to cryptogein exposure.Play00:0002:35MuteSettingsPIPEnter fullscreen

PlayMicrobe-Based Replacements for Chemical Pesticide Replacement.A team of scientists from Tokyo University of Science has developed a screening method based on cultured plant cells that makes such testing easier. This may lead to microorganism-based crop protection methods that reduce the need for chemical pesticides. Credit: Tokyo University of Science

To test the practicability of their screening strategy, Dr. Furuya and his colleagues used the strategy on 29 bacterial strains isolated from the interior of the Japanese mustard spinach plant (Brassica rapa var. perviridis), and they found that 8 strains boosted cryptogein-induced ROS production. They then further tested those 8 strains by applying them to the root tips of seedlings from the Arabidopsis genus, which contains species commonly used as model organisms for studies of plant biology. Interestingly, 2 of the 8 tested strains induced whole-plant resistance to bacterial pathogens.

Based on the proof-of-concept findings concerning those 2 bacterial strains, Dr. Furuya proudly notes that his team’s screening method “can streamline the acquisition of microorganisms that activate the immune system of plants.” When asked how he envisions the screening method affecting agricultural practices, he explains that he expects his team’s screening system “to be a technology that contributes to the practical application and spread of microbial alternatives to chemical pesticides.”

In time, the novel screening method developed by Dr. Furuya and team may make it significantly easier for crop scientists create greener agricultural methods that rely on the defense mechanisms that plants themselves have evolved over millions of years.


Explore furtherA minty-fresh solution: Using a menthol-like compound to activate plant immune mechanisms


More information: Mari Kurokawa et al, An efficient direct screening system for microorganisms that activate plant immune responses based on plant–microbe interactions using cultured plant cells, Scientific Reports (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-86560-0Journal information:Scientific ReportsProvided by Tokyo University of Science

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Agriculture Secretary Advises To Keep Friendly Pests Alive

 UrduPoint

Mohammad Ali (@ChaudhryMAli88)  2 days ago  Tue 06th April 2021 | 06:21 PM

Agriculture Secretary advises Bio-pesticides spray on cotton to keep friendly pests alive

Secretary agriculture South Punjab Saqib Ali Ateel advised farmers on Tuesday to delay first spray on cotton crop to the maximum and apply biological pesticides spray to keep crop friendly pests alive, cut cost and get good cotton production

MULTAN, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 6th Apr, 2021 ) :Secretary agriculture South Punjab Saqib Ali Ateel advised farmers on Tuesday to delay first spray on cotton crop to the maximum and apply biological pesticides spray to keep crop friendly pests alive, cut cost and get good cotton production.

During a visit to government seed farm at Rahim Yar Khan, he said that government was advocating farmers to prefer biological control techniques over application of chemical pesticides adding that farmers should delay the first spray on the crop to the maximum possible and when they do they must chose bio-pesticides for spray. It would keep crop friendly pests alive, cut cost and would give good production. Farmers should resort to chemical pesticides spray only as a last option when pest incidence crosses the Economic Threshold Level (ETL).

He said that the farm officials should collect complete data of trials at the farm regarding zero tillage technology and wheat sowing on ridges so that it could benefit farmers in the next season.

He was informed that plant extracts were applied on wheat trial fields that increased the number of crop friendly pests while incidence of enemy pests was near to nothing.

Witnessing trial fields of Apple, avocado, peach, olive and dates at the farm, the secretary agriculture said that in addition to mulching, fruit bearing plants should also have some arrangement to be safe from sunlight and water be applied in time.

He said “Unregistered varieties are mostly susceptible to pest attack and must be avoided and only registered seed varieties be sown.”He said that government was providing Rs 1000 subsidy per bag of registered seed varieties while subsidy was also being given on Phosphorous and Potash fertilizers to cut farmers’ cost on cultivation. He said, a Rs 4.4 billion subsidy would be provided to counter white fly while BP Ropes would be provided at 60 per cent subsidized price to counter pink bollworm attack on cotton. He advised field formations to ensure enforcement of SOPs in agriculture areas and give guidelines to farmers.

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Government gives green light to fall armyworm biopesticide

James McManagan1 Apr 2021, 5 p.m.Grains

Biopesticide given emergency approval to assist fall armyworm battle.

 Biopesticide given emergency approval to assist fall armyworm battle.

The Queensland government has given the green light to the emergency use approval of the biopesticide Fawligen in a bid combat the destructive pest fall armyworm.

Since arriving in Australia last year the highly mobile pest has spread throughout Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and south to northern New South Wales, destroying corn and sorghum fields in its wake.

Fawligen is a naturally occurring caterpillar virus that kills the pest from the inside out and spreads to the larvae.

Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority had issued an Emergency Use Permit which allows Fawligen to be used.

“The swift approval of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ application, prepared jointly with AgBiTech – the Australian company that developed and produces Fawligen – is a significant step in the battle against this voracious pest,” Mr Furner said.

“Fawligen is a welcome addition to the options available for controlling FAW, particularly in crops, such as sweet corn, maize and sorghum, where currently available options are limited or ineffective.

“Further research and work by industry under the EUP will provide valuable data to help AgBiTech achieve its aim of gaining full Australian registration for Fawligen.”

AgBiTech’s general manager for Australia, Philip Armytage, said Fawligen is best used as part of an integrated pest management system.

“Fawligen will work as an important management tool when used in strategic combinations with natural enemies and conventional chemistry options,” Mr Armytage said.

“Our information from overseas indicates that Fawligen it is not a strong, stand-alone solution for FAW control and as a result, Fawligen supply will be restricted to growers and consultants who have undertaken accredited training to ensure they are fully aware of the product’s abilities and limitations.

“AgBiTech will be providing a training program for farmers, agronomists and researchers who are considering using Fawligen.”

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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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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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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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