Archive for the ‘Biopesticide’ Category

Integrate Your Insecticide Rotation in the Greenhouse with Biological Control

Juang-Horng (J.C.) ChongBy Juang-Horng (J.C.) Chong|August 1, 2022

  • Greenhouse Grower

Predatory Mite Release biological control

Biological control can be used effectively as a part of an integrated pest management program. This image shows loose bran leftover from a predatory mite release. Photos: Juang Chong

In a perfect world, we can have our cake and eat it, too. Alas, this isn’t a perfect world. As much as we hope biological control can be a complete replacement for pesticides, it’s not. We may need to apply pesticides to prevent damage by a secondary pest. By a secondary pest, I mean a pest that’s not the primary target of your biological control program but can become a problem because it has no effective biological control option (such as lygus bug or striped mealybug) or its biological control agents are in short supply or unaffordable.

Multiple factors decide which pesticides to use when practicing biological control. You can consult Koppert’s Side Effects Database or Biobest’s Side Effect Manual to select compatible insecticides. But, understand that compatibility information isn’t available for all products, and databases from different companies may have different ratings for the same product. You’ll have to do a little homework. When multiple ratings are available, it’s prudent to go with the most conservative one or the “worst-case scenario.” The best aid in selecting compatible pesticides is the representative of your biological control agent supplier, who can help you select the most suitable products and fill information gaps, particularly information on sublethal impact of pesticides.

Today’s topic hasn’t been discussed in detail when folks talk about selecting compatible insecticides — how do you satisfy two critical requirements, i.e., insecticide rotation and compatibility with biological control agents, when selecting which insecticide to use against the secondary pest?

Avoid Pesticide Resistance

As part of an integrated pest management program, biological control is a great way to delay the development of pesticide resistance. Hopefully, a preventive biological control program is so successful that you don’t ever have to use pesticides. If you don’t use or use very little pesticides, then you don’t have to worry about pesticide resistance — as simple as that. But, if you need to make multiple applications to reduce a secondary pest population, you should consider rotating the pesticides you plan to use to avoid resistance development.

The process of developing an insecticide rotation program that’s compatible with your biological control program is the same as developing a rotation program for any other pest. This could be best illustrated by going through the steps of developing such a rotation program, say, against mealybugs (I’m too cheap to buy Cryptolaemus) while being compatible with the predatory mite, Neoseiulus cucumeris, used for thrips management.

Pests on Verbena

Multiple pests can occur on the same plant, such as spider mites and thrips on this verbena. Designing an insecticide rotation program will need to consider both pests and their biological control agents.

The first step is to have a list of insecticides effective against mealybugs. I can find pesticide efficacy information from several resources. I can read IR-4’s Research Summaries or the Comparative Efficacy and Ecotox table from Rutgers University’s Protecting Bees website. Alternatively, I can call or email my favorite entomologist for recommendations. At the end of Step 1, my fictional list includes acephate, bifenthrin, buprofezin, dinotefuran, flonicamid, horticultural oil, insecticidal soap, and pyriproxyfen.

Now, let’s select insecticides that are compatible with cucumeris mite from my list. For this step, I consult with the technical representative of my biological control agent supplier, Do-Good Bug Company. Acephate and bifenthrin are out because they are broad-spectrum and have residual toxicity that may last for weeks. Dinotefuran can be very detrimental to cucumeris mite when sprayed, but is safe as a drench, so I’ll use that as a drench. Horticultural oil and insecticidal soap can also be detrimental when sprayed, but they have short residue, so I can use them just before releasing the predatory mites (the residue becomes harmless by release time) or at the end of the crop to clean up the mealybug population. Buprofezin, flonicamid and pyriproxyfen are compatible.

Steps for Mealybug Program

Here’s my mealybug program: I’ll start with a drench of dinotefuran followed with biweekly sprays of buprofezin, flonicamid, and pyriproxyfen. Remember that a good rotation program includes a sequence of non-repeating modes of action or IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee) numbers. I can find the IRAC numbers on the first page of the product labels, which are 4A for dinotefuran, 16 for buprofezin, 29 for flonicamid, and 7C for pyriproxyfen. All IRAC numbers in my rotation program are different, so I’m good to go. There you have it — an insecticide rotation program against mealybugs that’s compatible with cucumeris mite.

Of course, the example above is a simplified version of building an insecticide rotation program. Despite its simplicity, the same process can be repeated for any combination of (macro and micro) biological control agents and pesticides (insecticides and fungicides).

It is important to understand that insecticide rotation and compatibility with biological control should be considered within the context of the entire crop. Rarely do we deal with one pest or disease at a time. What we do to manage one pest or disease may have significant impact on the management efficacy against another pest or disease. Therefore, pesticide rotation and biological control programs should be designed carefully to consider multiple plant and pest species. It doesn’t matter how successful a biological control program is in managing the primary pest, a crop can still fail if a secondary pest management program ignores insecticide rotation and creates a resistant population that ultimately destroys the crop.

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Going the eco-friendly way to control pests

The rainy season brings a slew of problems for fruit growers, who struggle to save their crops from infestation by pests. The application of insecticides is not very effective and also poses environmental hazards, leading to a negative impact on soil health. Amid these challenging circumstances, the adoption of various eco-friendly techniques for managing pests targeting fruit crops has emerged as a viable option among farmers across Punjab.



  • Updated At: Jul 18, 2022 07:32 AM (IST)
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Going the eco-friendly way to control pests

Bagging of guava fruit

Manav Mander

FRUIT cultivation faces a constant threat from insects. Several pests cause damage to fruit production, leading to a loss of yield. Among the pests that impede quality fruit production, fruit flies Bactrocera dorsalis and Bactrocera zonata can cause up to 100 per cent damage in the rainy season to the guava crop, 85 per cent (kinnow), 80 per cent (pear), 78 per cent (peach) and 30 per cent to mango as well as plum.

The application of insecticides is not much effective and also causes environmental hazards, leading to a negative impact on soil health. Amid this scenario, the adoption of eco-friendly techniques for managing insect-pests of fruit crops has emerged as a viable option among farmers across Punjab.

Prominent among these techniques developed by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, are the fruit fly trap and the termite trap, while integrated management of snails in the citrus nursery, integrated pest management (IPM) of mango hoppers and bagging for fruit fly management in guava are also being practised.

Popular techniques for saving fruits

PAU fruit fly trap

Fruit fly trap

The PAU fruit fly trap is the most popular of these techniques. Till date, the university has sold around 52,000 PAU fruit fly traps, while 21,500 have been supplied to the fruit growers and government orchards for frontline demonstrations under the National Horticulture Mission (NHM) projects, thus covering an area of 4,600 acres under fruit fly traps. This trap is being adopted by more than 90 per cent of the fruit growers of Punjab, besides being used in kitchen gardens.


According to Dr Sandeep Singh, Senior Entomologist (Fruits) and team leader for developing these techniques, fruit growers of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh are purchasing PAU fruit fly traps from the university’s Department of Fruit Science.

Eco-friendly management of fruit flies can be done by fixing PAU fruit fly traps at the rate of 16 traps/acre in the second week of April, first week of May, third week of May, first week of June, first week of July and second week of August, respectively. Traps can be re-charged after 30 days, if needed, and one trap costs around Rs 100. It is best suited for the management of male fruit flies in kinnow, guava, mango, pear, peach and plum.

“In the rainy season, guava suffer maximum infestation due to the carry-over of fruit flies from other early-ripening fruit crops — peach, pear, mango, litchi, plum, grapes, loquat, jamun, sapota, pomegranate, fig, banana and papaya — and from vegetable crops, especially cucumber. The fruit fly trap is the most effective and economical way of controlling the menace,” says Gurusewak Singh, a farmer from Malerkotla.


Termite trap

Termite trap

Termites in the fruit crop no longer bother farmers who use earthen pot-based traps. Eco-friendly management of termites can be done by burying gul (maize cobs without grains)-filled 24-holed earthen pots of 13-inch diameter with lid at the rate of 14 per acre in termite-infested orchards of pear, ber, peach, grape and amla during the first week of April and then in the first week of September. These pots should have their necks outside the soil surface. The pots should be removed from the soil after 20 days of installation and the termites collected should be destroyed by dipping in water containing a few drops of diesel.

A total of 4,578 termite traps have been supplied by PAU to the fruit growers and government orchards for frontline demonstrations under the NHM projects, covering 327 acres.

“I have been using termite traps for the past four years in my orchard. It is an eco-friendly technique as there is no pesticide residue in fruits, soil, plants and environment. The cost of fixing of earthen pots in the orchards is quite cheap (Rs 980/acre). A single pot has the capacity to trap more than 100,000 termites,” says Ravinderpal Singh.

Integrated management of snails in citrus nursery

In this technique, papaya leaves are spread in/around the nursery area to attract snails. Then, the snails are collected and put into a bucket containing salt water to kill them. Wet gunny bags are kept in the nursery area as snails try to hide under them.

IPM of mango hoppers

In this method of integrated pest management, the spray of PAU home-made neem extract and PAU home-made Dharek extract (5 litres per acre) is effective in reducing the population of hoppers in mango.

Fruit fly bagging

The mature green and hard fruits of guava should be covered with a biodegradable white-coloured non-woven bags of 9 inch x 6 inch from June-end to mid-July. For proper bagging of fruits, stapler or needle pins can be used. The bagged fruits should be harvested at the colour-break stage.


Polyphagous menace

Fruit flies Bactrocera dorsalis and Bactrocera zonata are polyphagous pests that damage various fruit crops and multiply profusely. The female adult fruit fly punctures the fruit at the colour-break stage and deposits its eggs below the epicarp. On hatching, the maggots feed on the soft pulp of the ripening fruits. The punctured portion start rotting and the fruit fall down prematurely. The duration of activity of the fruit flies on mango fruits is from the last week of May to the last week of July. These flies also attack peach, plum, kinnow and guava crops. Isolated orchards are less infested by fruit flies. The duo can cause up to 100 per cent damage in the rainy season to the guava crop, 85 per cent to kinnow, 80 per cent (pear), 78 per cent (peach) and 30 per cent to mango as well as plum.

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Biological products: The new tool of agriculture

USDA ARSWFP-ARS-soybeans.jpg

A field of soybeans.

New research tools, like genomic sequencing, have provided the ability to understand the vast diversity of microbiology.

Jeremiah Vardiman | Jul 08, 2022



Farm Progress Show

Aug 30, 2022 to Sep 01, 2022

Just mentioning the word biologicals in an agriculture conversation can invoke various responses that range from silence to enthusiasm and anything in between. To be clear, a biological is a product that contains beneficial, naturally occurring microorganisms or microbial derivatives as active ingredients.

Whether an individual is skeptical about or in favor of biologicals, the fact is that agriculture companies have shown an increased interest in these products in the past decade. In that time frame investments in this sector have stimulated a surge in the development of various types of new biological products. Hundreds of startup companies selling biological products have also popped up.


Biologicals, such as inoculums for legumes, are not new to the agriculture industry, so why all the hype right now? New research tools, like genomic sequencing, have provided the ability to understand the vast diversity of microbiology and its functions in agricultural systems.

The theory around biologicals is that certain microorganisms perform beneficial functions that should increase functions within the soil or plant; by applying these microorganisms to various cropping systems, they provide increased plant health and vigor that could supplement or offer an alternative to conventional fertilizers and pesticides. The theory assumes that these products have a lower impact on the environment during production and after application.

If biologicals are so great, why are they not utilized more? There are a few reasons why producers are not jumping on the biological bandwagon yet. The first hurdle is lack of understanding and confusion about biologicals in general. The second hurdle is that there is little to no information on the effectiveness of these products. The last obstacle is the inconsistency of product performance in different environments and soil conditions.

Unfortunately, the biological market is very confusing because of the various jargon utilized, starting with the term biological. Again, the definition of a biological is a product that contains beneficial, naturally occurring microorganisms or microbial derivatives as active ingredients. Biologicals are also referred to as probiotics, biofertilizers, biofungicides, biocontrols, and biostimulants. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, which adds to the confusion.

The two major types of biologicals are biostimulants and biopesticides. Biostimulants are biologicals that enhance a plant’s growth, health, and productivity; this category includes biofertilizers, fulvic acid, microbial inoculants, plant growth regulators, and others. It is important to know that biostimulants that are labeled only for growth promotion and without a claim for pest control may not be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Biopesticides control pests

In contrast, biopesticides are biologicals that protect against or directly control pests, such as bacterial and fungal pathogens, insects, and weeds. Biopesticides are generally subject to EPA registration and regulation, and are referred to as bioherbicides, bioinsecticides, and biofungicides. Products that provide both a biostimulant and biopesticide are less common.

It is important to note that biological products are as beneficial to conventional production as to organic systems. Organic systems tend to utilize biologicals more because of the limited pest management options.

If biologicals are used in conventional production, make sure they are compatible with the chemicals used in the operation and do not significantly increase input costs. Biologicals are recommended as a supplement to conventional chemicals, not as a replacement.

As with many products in agriculture, the success of biologicals depends on applying them at the right time, place, and concentration. However, biologicals are different than other products because they may contain live organisms that need to survive through the application process and then thrive in the environment.

The microorganisms need to attain large populations in the environment to show observable effects on crop productivity. Many factors, such as temperature, pH, organic matter, salt concentration, and moisture, affect the survival of different microorganisms. These factors are why biologicals may have inconsistent results and comprise an active area of research.

The investment and market direction toward biologicals indicates that these products will play a significant role in crop production in the future. Take time to learn more about biologicals and if they could benefit your operation.

Source: University of Wyoming, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.


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Science News

from research organizations

Photorhabdus luminescens — a true all-rounder: Insect pathogenic bacterium also helps to combat fungal infestation

Date:July 6, 2022Source:Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet MainzSummary:The bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens is already used as bioinsecticide to protect crops against a wide range of insect pests. Researchers have recently demonstrated that P. luminescens can also protect plants against fungal infection.Share:


Future food shortages are expected to become exacerbated in many parts of the world. With this in view, sustainable biological techniques are being explored that could increase the yield of cereals and other food crops and which, unlike the use of chemical pesticides, are environmentally compatible. The bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens is already used as bioinsecticide to protect crops against a wide range of insect pests. Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germany have recently demonstrated that P. luminescens can also protect plants against fungal infection. A secondary cell form of the bacterium is responsible for this additional effect. This variant first colonizes the fungal mycelium and then destroys it by degrading chitin, a major component of the cell wall of fungi. The results of this research could be very significant in future, particularly with regard to cereal production. “We see this as a prime opportunity to make farming more environmentally friendly and sustainable with the help of these bacteria,” said Professor Ralf Heermann of JGU.

Biological methods may result in higher crop yields

Like other plants, crops are susceptible to environmental stresses, diseases, and infestation by pests. This has an impact on crop yields and food production and raises concerns about food security in the light of the growing global population. The most extensive agricultural losses are attributable to weed invasion, animal pests, and also plant diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses. In the past, it was the intensive use of chemical plant protection agents that ensured higher yields and thus improved the food supply. However, this came at the cost of environmental damage, the risk of fatal toxicity for humans and non-target organisms such as pollinator insects, and not least the unwanted modification of the composition of the soil microbiome.

An alternative approach is the use of biological agents such as rhizobacteria that promote plant growth and nematodes that attack insect pests. These are two examples of new and sustainable agricultural techniques to combat plant pests.

Primary cells of Photorhabdus luminescens kill insects and make them glow

Among these more sustainable approaches is the use of Photorhabdus luminescens as a beneficial organism that destroys insect larvae. This bacterium lives in symbiosis with small nematodes that penetrate the insect larvae and subsequently release the bacterium inside them. This then secretes numerous toxins that lead to the death of the insect larvae, simultaneously producing a bioluminescent enzyme called luciferase that makes the dead larvae glow.

About two years ago, the research group of Professor Ralf Heermann discovered that there is an additional phenotype cell of P. luminescens that, although it is unable to undergo symbiosis with nematodes, is capable of surviving in soil on its own. This secondary cell type is genetically identical with the primary form, but lacks certain phenotypic properties, such as bioluminescence. However, according to the group’s new findings, these secondary cells are extraordinarily effective against fungal infection. Using beef tomato plants as an example, Heermann’s team of microbiologists showed that infestation by the phytopathogenic fungus Fusarium graminearum can be prevented by the bacteria as they colonize the fungal hyphae, breaking down the chitin there. The scientists also managed to identify the molecular mechanism responsible involving an enzyme called chitinase and a chitin-binding protein. This enables the bacteria to dissolve the structure of a fungus, specifically its cell wall, and effectively inhibit fungal growth.

New potential application to promote plant growth and protect against fungal infection

“Furthermore, we were able to show that the secondary cell type of the bacterium colonizes the fungal hyphae in particular. This sets in motion one of the first mechanisms that protects plants against pathogens,” explained Dr. Nazzareno Dominelli, a member of Heermann’s team and the lead author of the recently published paper. “Thanks to our results, we can now propose a new use for P. luminescens – as an organism that both promotes plant growth and protects plants against fungal infection.”

The research team plans to continue investigating the promising potential that P. luminescens offers with regard to biological crop protection. Initial indications suggest that the secondary, non-luminescent cell type, which actively seeks out the roots of plants, may offer additional biotechnological benefits for agriculture.

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https://action.publicgood.com/embed.html?partner_id=sciencedaily&utm_source=sciencedaily&title=Photorhabdus%20luminescens%20–%20a%20true%20all-rounderersitaet MainzNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Nazzareno Dominelli, Fabio Platz, Ralf Heermann. The Insect Pathogen Photorhabdus luminescens Protects Plants from Phytopathogenic Fusarium graminearum via Chitin DegradationApplied and Environmental Microbiology, 2022; 88 (11) DOI: 10.1128/aem.00645-22

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MAY 2, 2022

Organic pesticides to provide natural protection for endangered crops

by Vittoria D’alessio, Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine

Organic pesticides to provide natural protection for endangered crops
The iconic European olive crop is in urgent in need of a biopesticide solution to fight the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium,. Credit: © Fabio Michele Capelli, Shutterstock

Some vitally important European crops like vines and olives are being devastated by disease. Scientists are searching for biological replacements for chemical pesticides to improve crop and human health.

The threat to agriculture from invasive species is huge. The United Nations (UN) estimates that plant disease costs the world’s economy over €200 billion per year, with 20–40% of crop production lost to pests.

“The economic loss from invasive species is immense, and if we took no action, there would be a huge amount of food insecurity, not only across the EU but across the globe,” said Dr. Hikmate Abriouel, professor of microbiology at Universidad de Jaén in Spain’s Andalucía.

With the stakes so high, it’s easy to understand why the agricultural sector is one of the largest users of chemicals worldwide.

The question of food security is uppermost these days. But, as Dr. Abriouel goes on to explain, our growing reluctance to use chemicals in agriculture adds a layer of complication to farming.

“There was a time when it was normal to rely on powerful pesticides to treat agricultural land,” she said. “But now we know that a chemical designed to kill a living organism is likely to have negative impacts on other biological systems too.”

Spraying crops with synthetic compounds has adverse impacts on people, farm animals, wildlife, pollinators like bees and other living things that play an essential role in the ecosystem. The chemical runoff also damages the land and water.

Pollution risk

Pesticide pollution causes risk to farmland from the chemical residues that leach into water supplies.

Some synthetic pesticides have been linked to human diseases like cancer, diseases of the immune system and respiratory illnesses.

Farmers who work with pesticides are particularly vulnerable to side-effects, with an estimated 44% of farm workers worldwide experiencing at least one incident of acute pesticide poisoning every year.

The EU’s Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy for sustainable food production targets significant reductions in the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers and antimicrobials and supports an increase in organic farming. Sustainability goals mean biopesticides or biological alternatives to pesticides are required.

“There is a lot of evidence that replacing chemicals with biopesticides works with nature rather than against it,” said Dr. Abriouel. Biological solutions benefit soil health and biodiversity too.

Dying vines

In France alone, around 12% of vineyards were unproductive between 2012 and 2017 due to Grape Trunk Disease (GTD) which has been spreading across Europe over the past two decades. A chemical pesticide used to treat vines was banned because it is harmful to human and environmental health.

The disease results in 50% less productive plants, a decrease in the quality of the wine and the premature death of healthy vines. Worldwide, estimates for the replacement cost of grapevines exceed €1.4 billion per year.

As a response to this blight, the EU is funding the multinational BIOBESTicide project which aims to find a biological solution to GTD.

“Our aim is to produce a really effective, totally natural preventive solution to this very serious and very expensive problem,” said Dr. Assia Dreux-Zigha who works for the French biotechnology company Greencell and is coordinating the BIOBESTicide research.

The team’s research is focused on a specific strain of Pythium oligandrum—a “friendly” fungus that is naturally present in the rhizosphere of many crop plants, including vines. The rhizosphere is the microorganism-rich region of soil directly around a plant’s roots.

P. oligandrum works both by destroying parasites directly and by inducing plant resistance against further attack. After isolating P. oligandrum in the lab, Greencell and its partners found that under certain conditions, the biopesticide colonized the roots of vines and stimulated the plant’s natural defenses against GTD.

In the near future, following trials and safety approval, the BIOBESTicide researchers aim to scale up and field-test their biopesticide in vineyards across different geographical areas.

“This is a very challenging project but, when we finish in late-2023, we hope to have a solution that will make it possible for vine plants to survive for their entire natural lifecycles,” said Dr. Dreux-Zigha.

Undoubtedly, winemakers will raise a glass to this prospect.

Olive preserver

A second iconic European crop urgently in need of a biopesticide solution is the olive. First detected in European olives in 2013, Olive Quick Decline Syndrome (OQDS) is the disease caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa.

In Puglia, southern Italy, where Xylella first surfaced on the continent, olive production shrank by 65–80% in the years up to 2020 with the loss of an estimated 100,000 jobs and the destruction of 400-year-old heritage olive trees.

Xylella has surfaced in France, Spain and Portugal, spread by an insect called the spittlebug. Affected plants are infected from the roots upwards, causing the leaves to turn brown and eventually killing the plant. It is considered one of the most dangerous plant pathogenic bacteria in the world.

“The problem with this pathogen is getting worse,” said Dr. Abriouel, who supervises the EU-backed SMART-AGRI-SPORE project, which aims to develop a biopesticide based on bacterial spores.

“Preventing further spread of this pest is a priority in the EU,” she said. A 2020 study estimated that as a worst-case scenario, Italy alone stands to lose between €1.9 billion and €5.2 billion over a 50-year period as a result of OQDS.

A number of projects are developing biopesticides to attack Xylella. Principal researcher Dr. Julia Manetsberger under the supervision of Dr. Abriouel is focused on modifying a strain of another bacteria to render it deadly to Xylella.

The researchers are hopeful that by 2024, a viable biopesticide will emerge from this research.

“We can’t use something against Xylella that changes the biodiversity or destroys or increases the resistance of microorganisms present in other plants and soil,” said Dr. Abriouel. “In other words, we can’t solve one problem and create another.”

“We are working hard to reach this objective,” said Dr. Manetsberger, “These plants are so important for our economy and we need to defend them.”

Explore further

France reports first case of fatal olive tree bacteria

Provided by Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine 

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Minimizing Further Insect Pest Invasions in Africa

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Esther Ngumbi

Jun 20, 2018

Photo: Tamzin Byrne/ICIPE

This was written by Esther Ngumbi, and appeared on Sci Dev Net

USAID recently offered prize money for the best digital tools that can be used to help combat the fall armyworm (FAW), an invasive pest that has spread across Africa. The winners will be announced in the coming months.
Identified in over 35 African countries since 2016, the FAW is expected to continue to spread, threatening food security and agricultural trade in African countries.

Map of areas affected by Fall Armyworm (as of January 2018)

Map of areas affected by Fall Armyworm (as of January 2018) Credit: FAO

But this is not the first invasive pest the African continent is dealing with. Just a few years ago, African smallholder farmers battled the invasive South American tomato moth, Tuta absoluta. According to recent research, five invasive insect pests including T. absoluta cost the African continent US$ 1.1 billion every year.
Around the world, invasive pests are causing US$ 540 billion in economic losses to agriculture each year despite the fact that many countries are doing their best to prevent insect invasions now and into the future.

Tackling invasive pests reactively

To deal with invasive insects, African countries assisted by other stakeholders, including aid agencies such as USAID, research institutions such as the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology, the Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI, the parent organization of SciDev.Net) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) have repeatedly taken a reactive rather than a proactive approach in tackling the invasive pests only after they have established a foothold and caused considerable damage.
Ghana, for example, established a National Taskforce to control and manage FAW after the worms had invaded local fields. This taskforce mandate includes sensitizing farmers and making them aware of the symptoms of armyworm attacks so they can report infestations to authorities and undertake research aimed at finding short and long term solutions to combat the spread of FAW.

“While many of these strategies are working, one cannot help but wonder what it would take for African governments to get ahead of this problem.”

Esther Ngumbi, University of Illinois

Malawi’s government prioritized the use of pesticides as an immediate and short-term strategy to fight the FAW after many of their smallholder farmers lost crops to this invasive insect. Further, the government intensified training and awareness campaigns about this pest and installed pheromone traps to help monitor the spread only after the pest had established a foothold.
The FAO, a leader in the efforts to deal with invasive pests in Africa, has spearheaded many efforts including bringing together experts from the Americas, Africa and other regions to share and update each other on FAW. The FAO has launched a mobile phone app to be used as an early warning system tool. But again, many of these efforts happened after the first detection of the FAW.
While many of these strategies are working, one cannot help but wonder what it would take for African governments to get ahead of this problem. How can aid agencies such as USAID, UN FAO and other development partners that are currently spending billions to fight the invasive FAW help Africa to take the necessary steps to ensure that it is better prepared to deal with invasive insects now and into the future?

Anticipate and prepare

Recent research predicts that threats from invasive insects will continue to increase with African countries expected to be the most vulnerable. African governments must anticipate and prepare for such invasions using already available resources.
Early this year, CABI launched invasive species Horizon Scanning Tool (beta), a tool that allows countries to identify potential invasive species. This online and open source tool supported by United States Department of Agriculture and the UK Department for International Development allows countries to generate a list of invasive species that are absent from their countries at the moment but present in “source areas,” which may be relevant because they are neighboring countries, linked by trade and transport routes, or share similar climates. Doing so could allow African countries to prepare action plans that can be quickly rolled out when potential invaders actually arrive.

Learn from other regions

Africa can learn from other regions that have comprehensive plans on dealing with invasive insects and countries that have gone through similar invasions. The United States and Australia are examples of countries that have comprehensive plans on preventing and dealing with insect invasions, while Brazil has gone through its own FAW invasion.

“African governments must learn to be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with invasive insects.”

Esther Ngumbi, University of Illinois

Through workshops and training programs that help bring experts together, African countries can learn how to prevent and deal with future insect invasions. Moreover, key actors should help organize more workshops and training programs to enable African experts to learn from their counterparts overseas. At the same time, the manuals, and all the information exchanged and learned during such workshops, could be stored in online repositories that can be accessed by all African countries.   

Strengthen African pest surveillance

A recent Feed the Future funded technical brief, which I helped to write, looked at the strength of existing African plant protection regulatory frameworks by examining eight indicators including the existence of a specified government agency mandated with the task of carrying out pest surveillance.
It reveals that many African countries have weak plant protection regulatory systems and that many governments do not carry out routine pest surveillance which involves the collection, recording, analysis, interpretation and timely dissemination of information about the presence, prevalence and distribution of pests.
The International Plant Protection Convention offers a comprehensive document that can help African countries to design pest surveillance programs. Also, the convention offers other guiding documents that can be used by African countries to strengthen their plant protection frameworks. African countries can use these available documents to strengthen national and regional pest surveillance abilities.

Set up emergency funds

Invasive insects know no borders. Thus, African countries must work together. At the same time, given the rapid spread of invasive insect outbreaks, the African continent must set up an emergency fund that can easily be tapped when insects invade. In dealing with the recent FAW invasion, it was evident that individual African countries and the continent did not have an emergency financing plan. This must change.

By anticipating potential invasive insects and learning from countries that have comprehensive national plant protection frameworks, Africa can be prepared for the next insect invasion. African governments must learn to be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with invasive insects.
Doing so will help safeguard Africa’s agriculture and protect the meaningful gains made in agricultural development. Time is ripe.
Esther Ngumbi is a distinguished postdoctoral researcher with the Department of Entomology at the US-based University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, a World Policy Institute Senior Fellow, Aspen Institute New Voices Food Security Fellow and a Clinton Global University Initiative Agriculture Commitments Mentor and Ambassador. She can be contacted at enn0002@tigermail.auburn.edu 
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk. 


[1] USAID: Fall Armyworm Tech Prize (USAID, 2018). 
[2] Briefing note on FAO actions on fall armyworm in Africa (UN FAO, 31 January 2018) 
[3] Corin F. Pratt and others  Economic impacts of invasive alien species on African smallholder livelihoods (Global Food Security, vol 14, September 2017).
[4] Abigail Barker Plant health-state of research (Kew Royal Botanic gardens, 2017).
[5] US Embassy in Lilongwe United States assists Malawi to combat fall armyworm. (US Embassy, 13 February 2018).
[6] Joseph Opoku Gakpo Fall armyworm invasion spreads to Ghana (Cornell Alliance for Science, 19 May 2017). 
[7] Kimberly Keeton Malawi’s new reality: Fall armyworm is here to stay (IFPRI, 26 February 2018).
[8] Malawi’s farmers resort to home-made repellents to combat armyworms (Reuters, 2018). 
[9] Fall Armyworm (UN FAO, 2018). 
[10] FAO launches mobile application to support fight against Fall Armyworm in Africa (UN FAO, 14 March 2018).
[11] Dean R. Paini and others Global threat to agriculture from invasive species (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 5 July 2016).
[12] CABI launches invasive species Horizon Scanning Tool (CABI, 2018).
[13] United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service(USDA APHIS, 2018).
[14] Australia Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (Australia Government, 2018).
[15] Plant protection EBA data in action technical brief (USAID FEED THE FUTURE, 26 January 2018).
[16] Guidelines for surveillance (International Plant Protection Convention, 2016)FILED UNDER:AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITYMARKETS AND TRADEPOLICY AND GOVERNANCERESILIENCE

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Smart soil bugs offer farmers an ecofriendly route to controlling diseases such as potato scab

on January 20, 2022

More in Europe, UK, Ireland:

An innovative method of controlling a range of damaging crop diseases using native, beneficial soil bacteria has emerged from a research-industry collaboration. The agri-tech innovation hopes to give farmers a way to reduce the cost and environmental damage caused by the chemical treatments currently in use to control crop diseases, such as common scab in potatoes.

The John Innes Centre team in the UK isolated and tested hundreds of strains of Pseudomonas bacteria from the soil of a commercial potato field, and then sequenced the genomes of 69 of these strains. By comparing the genomes of those strains shown to suppress pathogen activity with those that did not, the team were able to identify a key mechanism in some of the strains that protected the potato crop from harmful disease-causing bacteria.

Then using a combination of chemistry, genetics and plant infection experiments they showed that the production of small molecules called cyclic lipopeptides is important to the control of common potato scab.

These small molecules have an antibacterial effect on the pathogenic bacteria that cause common potato scab, and they help the protective Pseudomonas move around and colonise the plant roots. The experiments also showed that irrigation causes substantial changes to the genetically diverse Pseudomonas population in the soil.

First author of the study Dr Alba Pacheco-Moreno said, “By identifying and validating mechanisms of potato pathogen suppression we hope that our study will accelerate the development of biological control agents to reduce the application of chemical treatments which are ecologically damaging.

“The approach we describe should be applicable to a wide range of plant diseases because it is based on understanding the mechanisms of action that are important for biological control agents,” she added.

The study, which appears in eLife, proposes a method by which researchers can screen the microbiome of virtually any crop site, and take into account varying soil, agronomic and environmental conditions.

By exploiting advances in high-speed genetic sequencing, the method can screen the soil microbiome for therapeutic bacteria and work out which molecules are being producedto suppress pathogenic bacteria.

They can also show how these beneficial bugs are affected by agronomic factors such as soil type and irrigation.

The next step for the new approach is to put the beneficial bugs back into the same field in greater numbers or in cocktails of mixed strains as a soil microbiome boosting treatment.

Dr Jacob Malone, Group Leader at the John Innes centre and co-corresponding author of the study explains the benefits, “The massive advantage of this approach is that we are using bacterial strains that are taken from the environment and put back in the same specific biological context in larger numbers so there is no ecological damage.”

Potential methods to apply the microbiome boosters include applying the bacterial cocktails as seed coatings, as a spray or via drip irrigation.

Dr Andrew Truman, Group Leader at the John Innes Centre, and corresponding author of the study tells us about the long-term vision for this method, “In the future  it’s not the molecule produced by the bacteria that we would use, it would be the Pseudomonas strain itself. It offers a more sustainable route – we know these bacteria colonize the soil where potatoes grow, and they provide protection to the crop. Using a bacterium, you can easily grow and formulate it in an appropriate way and apply it to the field, and it is much greener than using a synthetic chemical.”

Plant diseases are an agricultural problem that leads to major losses of crops, such as potatoes. Important potato pathogens include Streptomyces scabies, a bacterial pathogen that causes potato scab, and Phytophthora infestans, an oomycete pathogen that causes potato late blight.

Pseudomonas bacteria are commonly associated with plants and have been widely studied as biological control agents, as they secrete natural products which promote plant growth and suppress pathogens. However, their use in the past has been hampered by inconsistency.

Previous studies on the suppression of potato scab have indicated a potential biocontrol role for Pseudomonas. However, progress was hampered by a lack of mechanistic knowledge. It was also widely known that irrigation can suppress Streptomyces scabies infection and now this study suggests that this is because of the effect that water has on microbial populations.

Pan-genome analysis identifies intersecting roles for Pseudomonas specialized metabolites in potato pathogen inhibition, appears in eLife.

Source: John Innes Centre. Original news story here
Photo: John Innes Centre
Journal Reference:
Francesca L Stefanato, Alba Pacheco-Moreno, Jonathan J Ford, Christine Trippel, Simon Uszkoreit, Laura Ferrafiat, Lucia Grenga, Ruth Dickens, Nathan Kelly, Alexander DH Kingdon, Liana Ambrosetti, Sergey A Nepogodiev, Kim C Findlay, Jitender Cheema, Martin Trick, Govind Chandra, Graham Tomalin, Jacob G Malone, Andrew W Truman. Pan-genome analysis identifies intersecting roles for Pseudomonas specialized metabolites in potato pathogen inhibitioneLife, 2021; 10 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.71900

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Two bioprotection companies start long-term partnership

Biotalys and Biobest today announced a long-term strategic partnership. The partnership will grant Biobest access to five protein-based biocontrol solutions developed by Biotalys on its Agrobody Foundry technology platform for Biobest’s global offer in covered crops and berries. In addition, the two companies enter into an exclusive agreement for the distribution of Biotalys’ biofungicide Evoca in the United States for all crops and applications, starting in 2022 – pending regulatory approval.

“Biobest’s vision is to deliver an innovative and complete range of biological solutions to growers in all major geographical markets,” said Jean-Marc Vandoorne, CEO of Biobest. “Biotalys offers a unique new technology for the development of biodegradable, protein-based biocontrol products which are perfectly fit for the diversification of our offer to covered crop and berry growers and for the challenges these growers face in producing healthy and safe food. We look forward to initiating the offer to growers by adding Biotalys’ biofungicide Evoca to our portfolio in the United States upon availability of the product later next year.”

Patrice Sellès, CEO of Biotalys, stated: “We are delighted to have chosen Biobest as our long-term commercial partner for our protein-based biocontrols programs in the covered crops and berry market segments. With its presence on all continents, supporting growers with a wide range of biocontrol solutions, and its innovative approach with novel techniques such as robotics, sensors and other digital supporting tools, Biobest is extremely well positioned to secure the best uptake of our unique technology and candidate products in these selected markets. At the same time, the distribution by Biobest of our very first biocontrol product Evoca in the U.S. market is a key milestone for our company and will pave the way for the commercialization of our future products.”

Long-term collaboration agreement
Under the terms of the partnership, Biotalys will offer Biobest a right of first negotiation to come to an exclusive distribution agreement for five protein-based biocontrol programs for use in the global covered crop and berry market during the next 10 years. The product candidates can relate to either the existing or future pipeline.

Each time a product candidate is promoted by Biotalys to the development stage on Biotalys’ Agrobody Foundry technology platform, Biobest will have the rights to access the technology with the aim of adding the end-product to its portfolio of solutions in covered crops and berries. For each of the product candidates being promoted to the development stage, the companies will negotiate a tailored global distribution agreement and associated fees (for the technology and product) taking into account the spectrum, potency and crop applicability of the bio-fungicide, bio-insecticide or bio-bactericide solution involved.

The long-term partnership between Biobest and Biotalys provides that Biotalys will supply the end-products to Biobest for commercialization to growers globally. At a time when the number of crop protection solutions is facing significant challenges from a regulatory and consumer point of view, these growers are in need of more sustainable and safer food protection alternatives to produce healthy and delicious fruits and vegetables. The parties believe that this agreement could generate annual sales in the covered crop and berry space of more than EUR 100 million for both partners combined resulting from the five biocontrol programs.

Next to Evoca, Biotalys’ pipeline at present consists of various bio-fungicide, bio-insecticide and bio-bactericide programs in different research or exploratory stages.

Exclusive distribution agreement for Evoca in the US
Biobest and Biotalys have also signed a distribution agreement under which Biobest will exclusively distribute Evoca in the United States for all crops and applications, to calibrate the market as of late 2022, subject to regulatory approval. Evoca is Biotalys’ first biofungicide aimed at helping growers to protect crops such as strawberries, grapes and other high-value fruits and vegetables against Botrytis and Powdery Mildew in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs.

Biotalys submitted Evoca for EPA registration in the United States in December 2020. Following the submission, Biotalys passed both the provided completeness check and the preliminary technical screening. Biotalys expects to receive EPA approval in H2 2022. In April 2021, Biotalys also submitted for approval in California, as this State performs its own in-depth review.

For more information:
www.biotalys.com Biobestinfo@biobestgroup.comwww.biobestgroup.com

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Digital Engagement and Training Helps Increase Agro-Dealer and Farmer Knowledge on Integrated Pest Management in East Africa

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Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Aug 19, 2021

A group of people training with the Tanzanian Agricultural Research Institute (TARI)

This post is written by Sara Hendery, communications coordinator for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management

Given Tanzania’s diverse geographical landscape, it’s no surprise the country is among the world’s top 20 producers of vegetables. Nevertheless, farmers remain in search of ways to combat the pests and diseases that threaten crop yields every season.

Results of a survey conducted by Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management partners at the Tanzanian Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) show that the majority of Tanzanian farmers receive key knowledge on how to manage pests and disease not only from extension personnel, but often from agricultural supply dealers, or agro-dealers. While agro-dealers do carry valuable information, resources and inputs, the survey also shows that many agro-dealers have limited formal knowledge on vegetable production or protective measures for applying chemical pesticides.

To address these gaps, TARI began providing cohesive training to agro-dealers, farmers and extension officers on vegetable production and pest and disease management. Training covers such areas as Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and safe handling and use of agricultural inputs, including pesticides. Thus far, 500 participants have been trained in the Coast and Morogoro regions. The GAP training in particular helps farmers build capacity in reporting and record-keeping, assessing input quality and crop hygiene, and training in IPM provides information on bio- and botanical pesticides, pruning, developing seedlings in a nursery environment and how to apply pesticides with minimal body exposure.   

“Knowing that farmers receive their pest and disease management knowledge from agro-dealers provides us important insight into how to best reach farmers with up-to-date information,” said Dr. Fred Tairo, principal agricultural research officer at TARI-Mikocheni. “If we want farmers to adopt sustainable, climate-smart and productive inputs that might be outside of their typical use, an important pathway to reaching them is through the people that farmers already trust and are familiar with.” 

In a group of 69 agro-dealers surveyed, only 49 were registered and licensed to run agricultural shops. The 20 unregistered participants had received no formal training in crop production or pesticide safety and use, and most participants not only had no prior knowledge on how to dispose of expired pesticides, but did not sell bio-pesticides or chemical pesticide alternatives at their shops. Since registering as an agro-dealer can cost nearly $200, TARI is collaborating with the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI), a regulatory authority for pesticides in Tanzania, to consider lowering the costs.  

TARI and the IPM Innovation Lab are increasing communication through digital platforms to reach more agricultural actors with safe and effective approaches to pest and disease management. A Kiswahili-based (Swahili) WhatsApp group named “Kilima cha Mboga kisasa,” or modern vegetable cultivation, currently shares information with 154 farmers, extension agents and agro-dealers in Tanzania who can use the app to cite crop threats and receive expert management guidance in return.

Participants post a picture or video of the crop problem for immediate diagnosis. Not only do agro-dealers in the group directly learn about farmers’ most pressing problems, but they can use the platform to market agri-inputs, including the IPM products they learn about through the platform. 

“Even if members of this group do not necessarily follow up with formal training we offer, this is a low-stakes knowledge-sharing space that they can be a part of and receive guidance from,” Tairo added. 

To increase access to information and inputs, the IPM Innovation Lab is also collaborating with Real IPM, a private company based in Kenya that develops low-cost biological and holistic crop solutions available in Kenya and Tanzania. In just one year, the company has provided training to thousands of farmers in seven counties in Kenya by targeting farmer groups, the majority of which are made up of women. Real IPM has developed training manuals on IPM, a WhatsApp group for crop health assistance and a free web portal for diagnosis and IPM recommendations of specific crop threats. 

“Our goal is to make IPM solutions more accessible,” said Ruth Murunde, research and development manager at Real IPM. “When you enter a pest or disease into our web portal, those images, diagnosis and IPM recommendations stay posted. We know that many farmers are experiencing similar issues to one another and collective action against crop threats is an effective way to combat them more long-term.”

While technology constraints remain — including smartphone, internet and electricity access — making learning spaces available for a range of crop production actors is critical to adoption of sustainable, effective farming solutions. 

Currently, the Real IPM database hosts over 7,000 participants and has collected over 200 infected crop images.

“The Real IPM technical team is actively working to support farmers by providing biopesticides as a solution for mitigating pests and diseases on vegetable crops to ensure sustainable agriculture for smallholder farmers,” added Murunde. “Our information networks help disseminate best practice methods for using those tools.”  

For more information on IPM training or Real IPM products, contact saraeh91@vt.edu.

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Biopesticides can be used to degrade aflatoxin in crops

Peer-Reviewed Publication


Aflatoxin Extraction

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 25% of global food crops are contaminated with different types of fungal toxins, such as aflatoxins, highly toxic and carcinogenic substances produced by certain species of the fungus Aspergillus. New research published in Plant Disease reveals a deeper understanding of how members of this same fungus species can be used to reduce aflatoxins in crops.

“Some strains of Aspergillus do not produce aflatoxins and are called atoxigenic strains,” explained plant pathologist Lourena Arone Maxwell, who is part of the team behind this research. “These atoxigenic strains can outcompete aflatoxin-producing strains during crop colonization and reduce overall aflatoxin contamination in food and feed crops.”

This technique is what’s known as biological control, which refers to the process of using beneficial organisms to control agricultural pests rather than relying on toxic chemicals. Biocontrol products, or biopesticides, utilizing highly competitive atoxigenic strains are commercialized and used in North America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. These products are environmentally safe and using them is currently the most effective way to produce foods and feeds that are safe from aflatoxin contamination.

“Our research provides detailed evidence on the ability of atoxigenic biocontrol strains of Aspergillus not only to prevent aflatoxin contamination but to degrade aflatoxins that are already present in the crop,” said Maxwell. “And, for the first time, we demonstrate the ability of aflatoxins to serve as a nutrient source for atoxigenic strains.”

Their findings provide new information and methods that may contribute to a better selection of atoxigenic strains that can be used in biopesticides to reduce aflatoxin contamination in food and feed crops more effectively.

“Furthermore, demonstration of aflatoxin degradation as a new mechanism by which atoxigenic strains reduce aflatoxins in crops points to new application possibilities, such as to assist aflatoxin management during storage and for industries that subject corn to steeping or fermentation such as in both wet and dry milling and the ensiling process used to produce silage for livestock.”

For more information, read “Degradation of Aflatoxins B1 by Atoxigenic Aspergillus flavus Biocontrol Agents” published in Plant Disease.


Plant Disease



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IAPPS Region X Northeast Asia Regional Center (NEARC)

Present committee members

Dr. Izuru Yamamoto, Senior Advisor

Dr. Noriharu Umetsu, Senior Advisor

Dr. Tsutomu Arie, a representative of the Phytopathological Society of Japan, the chair of Region X

Dr. Tarô Adati, a representative of Japanese Society of Applied Entomology and Zoology

Dr. Hiromitsu Moriyama, a representative of Pesticide Science Society of Japan, the secretary general of Region X

Dr. Rie Miyaura, a representative of The Weed Science Society of Japan

The Phytopathological Society of Japan and Pesticide Science Society of Japan became official partners of IYPH2020 by FAO of UN and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) of Japan and endeavored to educate the society on plant protection. https://www.maff.go.jp/j/syouan/syokubo/keneki/iyph/iyph_os.html

Annual activities related to IAPPS especially to IPM of plant diseases, insects and weeds, and plant regulation (from April 2020 to March 2021)

The Phytopathological Society of Japan (PSJ)

2020 Kanto District Meeting, Online; Sep 21–22, 2020

2020 Kansai District Meeting, Online; Sep 21–22, 2020

2020 Tohoku District Meeting, Online; Oct 12–14, 2020

2020 Hokkaido District Meeting, Online; Oct 15, 2020

2020 Kyushu District Meeting, Online; Nov 24–26, 2020

2021 Annual Meeting, Online; Mar 17–19, 2021

Japanese Society of Applied Entomology and Zoology (JSAEZ)

65th Annual Meeting, online, March 23-26, 2021

28th Annual Research Meeting of the Japan-ICIPE Association, online, March 25, 2021

Pesticide Science Society of Japan

37rd Study Group Meeting of Special Committee on Bioactivity of Pesticides, online, Sep 18, 2020

40th Symposium of Special Committee on Agricultural Formulation and Application, Yokohama, Kanagawa; Oct 15–16, 2020 (Cancelled due to the spread of COVID-19)

43th Annual Meeting of Special Committee on Pesticide Residue Analysis, online, Nov. 5–6, 2020

46th Annual meeting, Fuchu, Tokyo and Online, March 8–10, 2021

The Weed Science Society of Japan (WSSJ)

2020 Annual Meeting, The Weed Science Society of Kinki, Online; Dec 5, 2020

35th Symposium of Weed Science Society of Japan, Online; Dec 12, 2020

2020 Annual Meeting, Kanto Weed Science Society, Online; Dec 22, 2020

22th Annual Meeting, The Weed Science Society of Tohoku, Japan, Online; Feb 25, 2021

2020 Study Group Meeting of Weed Utilization and Management in Small Scale Farming, Online; Feb 26, 2021

Hono-Kai (means, Meeting who are appreciating agriculture)

35th Hono-Kai Symposium was cancelled due to the epidemic of COVID-19

Japan Biostimulants Association

rd Symposium, Online; Nov 2–30, 2020

Nodai Research Institute

2020-1 Biological Control Group Seminar, Setagaya; Tokyo; Jun 16, 2020 (Cancelled due to the epidemic of COVID-19)

2020-2 Biological Control Group Seminar, online, Nov 13, 2020

2021-1 Biological Control Group Seminar, online, Jun 15, 2021

2021-2 Biological Control Group Seminar, online, Nov 9, 2021

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