Archive for the ‘Biopesticide’ Category

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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Free tool to enhance awareness and uptake of bicontrol and biopesticide products

Globally, an estimated 40% of crops are lost to pests and diseases. In an attempt to lower that percentage, there is not the CABI BioProtection Portal, a free, web-based tool that enables users to discover information about registered biocontrol and biopesticide products around the world.

Available online, with an offline version coming soon, the CABI BioProtection Portal offers a ‘one-stop shop’ for growers to fight unwanted insect pests and diseases with more sustainable and safer biocontrol and biopesticide products as part of their integrated pest management strategy. The portal can be accessed on multiple devices, thereby putting the information at the fingertips of anyone who needs it. This is of particular value to growers and advisors, who need information, on-demand, about the availability and correct use of effective, lower toxicity products that are registered locally and meet market requirements.

Users of the CABI BioProtection Portal enter their country and crop-pest query in the portal, which then generates key information on biocontrol and biopesticide products that are authorized for that specific crop/pest combination. Information is sourced directly from national governments’ list of registered pesticides and from partner biocontrol manufacturers.

The CABI BioProtection Portal is available in Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, Colombia, France, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, India, Jordan, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Peru, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, Uganda, and the United Kingdom. It will soon be available in Costa Rica, Germany, Ivory Coast, Nepal, and Mauritania, with even more to come in 2022.

Dr. Ulrich Kuhlmann, Executive Director, Global Operations at CABI, said: “It is increasingly clear that certain kinds of chemical pesticides in agriculture are creating serious human health and environmental effects. The portal will be particularly beneficial for growers looking to replace chemical pesticides with biological products to meet market or export standards, satisfy consumer demands for healthier and safer food, and reduce pressures on the environment.”

For more information:

Publication date: Wed 17 Nov 2021

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The Good Virus: A Bioinsecticide Helps Farmers Control Caterpillar Pests

10/19/2021 | 10:12 AM CDT

Progressive Farmer

Emily Unglesbee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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Biopesticide helps beat fall armyworm crop pest, increasing farm yields by 63% in South Sudan


Fall armyworm is an invasive pest that has spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa since its discovery in 2017. Biopesticides like Fawligen are helping to control the pest and replace the need for chemical pesticides. The application of Fawligen has resulted in an average yield increase of 63% for farmers in South Sudan, equivalent to an increase in income of $609 per hectare.Third slideHealthy maize cobs at the end of the projectPreviousNext

The story

In recent years, the fall armyworm pest has devastated maize crops throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Chemical pesticides are currently the main way of controlling the infestations, but they can pose serious risks to the environment and human health.

Natural pesticides, also known as biopesticides, can be a highly effective alternative as they do not pose the same health risk to the environment or to spray operators, especially when used in conjunction with good crop management.

In 2019, CABI and partners tested a biopesticide called Fawligen in Kenya, which showed a maize yield advantage of 1,509 kg/ha over an untreated control field, and then designed the protocol to run a pilot demonstration of the product with 500 farmers in South Sudan. CABI provided local technical training and support to farmers as part of the first pilot study.

During the first phase of the project, farmers were clustered into groups of 50. Each cluster had a lead farmer trained to support the others and use their own farm as a demonstration or training site where they could teach a standard protocol and use of tools.

Crop yield data collected at the end of the growing season from three of the four sites – an area equal to around 132 hectares – showed that application of Fawligen resulted in an average yield increase of 63% for 500 smallholders when compared with untreated maize fields. This was equivalent to an increase in income of $609 per hectare.

A survey carried out at the end of the first pilot revealed that 95% of farmers were willing to pay for Fawligen if they could find it available at a nearby agro-dealer for a price comparable to a synthetic insecticide.

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Crop Enhancement partners with OHP, Inc.

US: “We are advancing biopesticides, as growers are in need of more biological solutions”

“After applying CropCoat, insects don’t recognize the treated plants as something they want to feed or reproduce on,” says Dr. Damian Hajduk, chief technology officer at Crop Enhancement. The California-based company has a mission to create innovative and more sustainable pest control solutions for growers. “Consumers are demanding more environmentally friendly solutions, so growers are in need of more biological solutions to meet this demand.”

Camouflaging the plant from insects
The first step in this journey was the development of CropCoat®, a non-toxic broad-spectrum biopesticide that is compatible with organic agriculture. CropCoat is a biodegradable film made from plant extracts which is applied to the crop and dries to form a flavorless, odorless coating. This unassuming crop coating reduces pest pressure by camouflaging the plant from insects, according to Hajduk.

How does it work?
According to the company website, CropCoat first smothers any pests present upon application, then dries and binds to the plant surface within 1-2 hours, effectively camouflaging it from pests. After 12-24 hours, CropCoat hardens to a solid film and prevents insects from establishing themselves on the now-foreign surface. “Applying CropCoat alters the tactile, visual, olfactory and taste traits of the plant. Therefore, its unique mode of action is that it does not act on the pest itself but on the pest’s environment. We think that insects are affected by all of these changes to differing degrees. They don’t stop to feed on or damage the treated plants, nor do they stop to reproduce,” explains Hajduk.

Not affecting gas exchange
While CropCoat forms a protective layer against pest insects, the coating does not impede gas exchange as the coating has gaps or pores large enough to allow gas exchange but small enough to prevent insect feeding. Similarly, CropCoat reportedly has no impact on beneficial insects as these feed on pests, not the crop material.

Advancing the deployment of biopesticides
Crop Enhancement has recently announced a new partnership with OHP, Inc., a leader in technology-based solutions to challenges in the greenhouse and ornamental industry. This partnership, according to Hajduk, will allow Crop Enhancement to trial its products in various production systems and to advance the deployment of biopesticides. CropCoat will be available to US growers in 2023. 

For more information:
Crop Enhancement

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PlantwisePlus: safer plant protection products

Dr Belinda Luke is one of the Global Team Leaders for CABI’s new flagship programme PlantwisePlus. Her role within the programme is to oversee the development of local production and distribution systems, for less harmful, biological plant protection products.


Pesticide use on the rise

The increase in devastating crop pests, such as the fall armyworm and tomato pinworm, has led to a growth in pesticide use among smallholder farmers. However, even when used properly pesticides can have a negative impact on human health and the environment.

Biological products often use living organisms, such as insects or pathogens, to control pest populations. They are generally of no, or low toxicity to humans and because they are often highly specific to a pest, or group of pests, they do not have unwanted effects on non-target organisms.

Dr Luke has worked for CABI for 25 years in the Biopesticide Team developing mycoinsecticides (natural fungi that kill insect pests) and hence has a good understanding of the challenges entailed in developing safer plant protection products.

Close-up of a southern armyworm on a leaf
Fall armyworm © CABI

Initial activities

Within this workstream three main challenges are being addressed in the initial 3 years of the PlantwisePlus programme:

– Increasing the promotion of low-risk plant protection products by agro-input dealers and exploring how voluntary standards on integrated pest management and pesticide risk reduction can help

– Determining if there are insufficient regulations governing low-risk plant protection product registration and how to improve them

– Increasing availability of biocontrol products by promoting agricultural businesses for low-risk plant protection products.

Desert locust
Desert locust © CABI

Mass producing plant protection products

One of the first activities undertaken by Dr Luke has been a study on what microbial and arthropod mass production approaches are most suitable for small-scale, local producers. Small production facilities often lack the finances and technology of large-scale producers; however, they still need to maintain quality control. The study examined production of beneficial fungi, viruses, nematodes, insects (predators and parasitoids), plant extracts and bacteria-based products.

The study concluded that the most likely organisms to be successfully produced in small local production facilities were beneficial insects, baculoviruses (viruses that infect insects), nematodes and fungi. However, plant extracts and bacteria-based products were not suitable and recommended that they should not be progressed further.

Trissolcus parasitoids attacking halyomorpha egg
Trissolcus parasitoids attacking halyomorpha eggs © CABI

Baculoviruses production

One early stage venture is exploring the feasibility of establishing a system for baculoviruses production by SMEs or small-holder farmers, for the control of caterpillar pests such as Fall Armyworm (FAW). This is being undertaken in collaboration with Andermatt Biocontrol, a leading Biocontrol company. Early stage work is looking at the feasibility of grinding up infected FAW caterpillars and reapplying the baculoviruses mixture to the field for control of subsequent generations of the pest. Brazil have a registered baculovirus for FAW control so it is hoped that our work will also demonstrate the potential for a commercial product in Kenya.

About PlantwisePlus

PlantwisePlus is a global programme, led by CABI, to increase incomes and grow safer and higher quality food through sustainable approaches to crop production.

Working in close partnership with relevant actors, PlantwisePlus strengthens national plant health systems from within, enabling countries to provide farmers with the knowledge they need to lose less and feed more.

CABI gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS, Netherlands), the European Commission Directorate General for International Partnerships (INTPA,EU), the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), for the PlantwisePlus programme.

For more information visit: https://www.plantwise.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Plantwise
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CABI_Plantwise (@CABI_Plantwise)

Further readinghttps://blog.plantwise.org/2021/07/28/plantwiseplus-toolkit-applying-digital-development-principles-to-real-life/embed/#?secret=9m4Xq4oLwihttps://blog.plantwise.org/2021/08/04/plantwiseplus-helping-farmers-grow-safer-higher-quality-food/embed/#?secret=N9M4WmSb1NPlantwisebiocontrolbiopesticidespesticidesplant healthplant pestsplantwiseplusCrop health

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