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Environmentally Friendly Insect Repellent for Agriculture

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A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed a biodegradable agent that repels insect pest activity amongst crops without the use of insecticide chemicals.

The use of synthetically produced insecticides in large quantities has been shown to negatively impact on local insect biodiversity and environmental health (e.g. soil and water quality). One such controversial impact which has become an ever increasing threat is that of bee population numbers being reduced due to insecticide use.

Professor Thomas Bruck, Chair of Synthetic Biotechnology at TU Munich and his team have now found an alternative. The insect repellent they have developed has been shown to be ecologically harmless and biodegradable. Being sprayed on crops, the repellent works similar to mosquito repellent, a chemical is released into the air which reduces insect presence.

“With our approach, we are opening the door to a fundamental change in crop production,” says Bruck. “Instead of spraying poison, which inevitably also endangers useful species, we deliberately merely aggravate the pests.”

The research team were inspired by the tobacco plant, which produces a molecule known as cembratrienol (CBTol) on its leaves that protects the plant from insects. Using synthetic biotechnology tools, the team were able to isolate the tobacco genome which is responsible for the production of CBTol and inserted this into the genome of bacteria. Using wheat bran, a widely available by-product from grain mills to feed bacterial, the genetically modified bacteria then self-produce the CBtol molecule.

Initial investigations showed that CBTol spray is non-toxic to insects and other species, yet it is a potent repellent. The fact that this product is biodegradable also results in a greatly reduced accumulation of chemicals in the local environment. This spray has also been shown to contain antibacterial properties, therefore being able to be used as a disinfectant spray that acts specifically against MRSA, pneumonia and listeriosis pathogens.

If you would like further information on this subject, please see the links below:

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International Conference on Global Crop Losses Caused by Diseases, Pests, and Weeds

An international conference on global crop losses was organized by Inra in Paris on three days (October 16 – 18, 2017).  The aim of this conference was to assess how plant diseases, pests, and weeds negatively affect crop health, crop performances, ecosystems and society. Although these negative impacts are well recognized, their quantification is still fragmented or incomplete.

Septoria tritici sur feuille de blé.. © INRA, SIMON J.C.
Updated on 01/23/2018
Published on 11/07/2017

The conference brought together key players in global agricultural and crop health research in order to explore and discuss opportunities related to analyzing, quantifying, and modelling crop losses to diseases and pests.The conference involved some 80 participants from 20 countries.

  • NEW : the final report is available HERE

The event was organized by INRA, through its Flagship Meta-Programs SMaCH (Sustainable Management of Crop Health) and GloFoodS (Transitions to Global Food Security), in partnership with Cirad and the ISPP  and support from the international networks AGMiP and MacSur. See details below.

Key questions addressed by the conference were:

  • What are the effects of diseases, pests, and weeds, on crop performances?
  • How can we understand, quantify, assess, and model these effects?
  • How and what can modelling contribute in the assessment of the impacts of diseases, pests, and weeds, especially on food security?
  • What could be the effects of climate and global changes on crop losses caused by plant diseases, pests, and weeds?

Eight keynotes were presented to address different aspects of crop loss quantification, modelling, and understanding:

  • Impacts of disease and pest crop losses on crop yields and agrosystem performances (K. J. Boote, University of Florida, USA)
    > See the slide show here.
  • Overview of approaches to quantify and model disease and pest losses (S. Savary, INRA, France)
    > See the slide show here.
  • Economic implications of disease and pest losses – modelling and analytical approaches (J. Antle, Oregon State University, USA)
    > See the slide show here.
  • Plant diseases in a changing climate, approaches to assess and estimate future crop risks (A. Von Tiedemann, University of Göttingen, Germany)
    > See the slide show here.
  • Pests and diseases data in the context of yield gaps – the Global Yield Gap Atlas (M. van Ittersum, Wageningen University, The Netherlands)
    > See the slide show here.
  • Linking crops with pests and diseases (K. C. Kersebaum, ZALF, Germany)
    > See the slide show here.
  • Past and ongoing experiences in developing open source online scientific data bases (A. Nelson, University of Twente, The Netherlands and J. Koo, IFPRI, USA)
    > See the slide show here.
  • Importance of disease and pest losses on key world crops – priorities (L. Willocquet, INRA, France)
    > See the slide show here.

> See the extended abstracts here.

These keynotes provided the background for three work groups, which addressed the themes of “Crop Loss Definition”, “Models for Crop Losses”, and “Data: Sources and Sharing”. Work conducted in each of these work groups will lead to a series of reports, including a white paper on crop loss data ontology.

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The event was organized by INRA, through its Flagship Meta-Programs SMaCH (Sustainable Management of Crop Health) and GloFoodS (Transitions to Global Food Security). The conference was organized in partnership with Cirad and the ISPP (International Society of Plant Pathology), and support from the international networks AGMiP http://www.agmip.org/ and MacSur.

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From CABI

Farmers Need Long-Term and Short-Term Solutions to Combat Fall Armyworm in Kenya

Reblogged from Farming First.

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From a distance, Wycliffe Ngoda’s two acres of shiny green maize crops look healthy and lush. But the tell-tale holes in the leaves and debris on the stems give away an increasingly dangerous secret hidden in more and more maize fields across Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa. The rampant Fall Armyworm caterpillar is once again threatening harvests across the continent for a second year.

The pest, which arrived in Africa from the Americas in 2016, affected around 50,000 hectares of maize in Kenya alone last year, costing 25 per cent of the crop, according to government officials.

This year, the losses could be as high as 50 per cent, threatening Kenya’s food security and farmers’ economic security in a country where the average annual consumption of maize surpasses 100kg per person.

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“This is one of the deadliest crop pests in the world,” said Dr B.M. Prasanna, director of the global maize programme at CGIAR’s International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), based in Nairobi. “It can have as many as six life cycles in a year and each female moth can lay as many as 1,500 to 2,000 eggs.

“There’s no single solution that will fight it in all the smallholder contexts. But we’re not starting from scratch.”

Government delegates and experts have recently travelled to Brazil to learn how Fall Armyworm is controlled in the Americas, including the use of pest-resistant varieties of maize.

Scientists at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) have also found improved yields in controlled trials of transgenic crops as part of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) initiative.

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But while the Kenyan government considers such developments as part of a long-term strategy to reduce the impact of Fall Armyworm, the pest continues to pose a threat in the short-term.

In their desperation to ward off the caterpillar, which can reach the size of a little finger, some farmers even resorted to mixing homemade pesticides.

“I came across Fall Armyworm last year,” said Mr Ngoda, 65, from Mbale, Vihiga county. “We were taken unaware. It’s something that had not occurred here before. The attack was very fast and furious.

“We started looking for local solutions. We took liquid detergents and mixed it with some ash. Eventually we succeeded in fighting it off but the damage was already done. I lost about 50 per cent of my crop, others lost 70 per cent.

“We were using local innovations but it was more like guesswork.”

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This year, Mr Ngoda said he was better prepared thanks to training in detection and responsible pesticide use provided by the county government and NGOs such as Farm Input Promotions Africa (FIPs-Africa). He said he had applied pesticide to his crops once so far.

The advice included treating crops with pesticides in the morning or afternoon when the caterpillars are active, and spraying to the side to avoid direct contact with the product. FIPs-Africa also contracts specialist sprayers to help farmers safely apply the correct pesticide.

In the meantime, Kenya’s Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) has fast-tracked its approval process for products that can help tackle Fall Armyworm to help address the threat in the short-term. But the challenge in rural areas is ensuring the best advice and information reaches the smallholders.

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CropLife Kenya organises popular county farmer training sessions every month and CABI has more than 120 Plantwise clinics across Kenya where smallholders can bring in samples of their damaged crop to get expert advice on the necessary remedy.

But more is needed to teach farmers how to live with a pest that is here to stay.

“I wish we had more people,” said Mr Ngoda. “Sometimes, farmers don’t seek solutions and expert advice. We need more surveillance and on farm visits.

“I’m normally guaranteed 40 bags minimum. Last year, I didn’t get 20. I thank God I have a small family and none of them are going to school, otherwise it would have been a total disaster.”

Reblogged from Farming First. Read the original article here→

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Spray plane Air Tractor Air Tractor/Getty Images
Today’s modern ag aircraft employ precision guidance technology to insure accurate coverage of crop protection materials.

1943-2018: A 75-year evolution of crop protection in the Delta

Logan Hawkes 1 | May 02, 2018

“You’ve come a long way, baby!” — Slogan from a 1968 tobacco ad campaign

That catch-phrase that was part of a long ago very successful advertising campaign for cigarettes could be applicable to the evolution of crop protection in the Delta region, and beyond, since Delta Farm Press had its start in 1943.

“Agriculture has been a crucible of evolutionary change since its inception thousands of years ago, and this change permeates agricultural endeavors at all levels of biological organization, ranging from the individual gene to whole communities,” says an article published by The U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health.1

While it may be impossible to know the number of plant or pest species that have come and gone throughout Earth’s history, we are nonetheless aware of changes brought about by both natural and selective plant breeding processes over the last several thousand years. And we know a great deal more today about the insects and diseases that have competed for the commercial crops grown on farms.

By the time the 1940s arrived, and worsening global war between nations raged in other parts of the world, farmers tilling the rich soils of the Mississippi Delta were at war with weeds.

“All through history, it is clear that farmed crops would suffer from pests and diseases, causing a large loss in yield, with the ever-present possibility of famine for the population,” says a 2002 article on pest management.2 “Even today, with advances in agricultural sciences, losses due to pests and diseases range from 10 percent to 90 percent, with an average of 35 percent to 40 percent, for all potential food and fiber crops.”

Somewhere around 1942, Dr. J.E. Adams at the Delta Research Station at Stoneville, Miss., began using an invention known as The Flamer, a tractor-mounted blowtorch designed to burn weeds between the rows. Trials were promising, and for several years the machine became the primary tool for weed control.

In other parts of the nation, researchers had been working with inorganic substances, such as sodium chlorate and sulphuric acid, to control many pest problems. Organic chemicals derived from natural sources were widely used.

New pesticides were being tested, mostly byproducts of coal gas production or other industrial processes. Early organics such as nitrophenols, chlorophenols, creosote, and even petroleum oils were being tested, and in some cases, used for fungal outbreaks and to control plant bugs. For weed control, farmers depended on ammonium sulphate and sodium arsenate, but those products needed to be applied at high rates with a lack of selectivity and phytotoxicity.3

Following that, synthetic pesticides were being developed, including DDT, BHC, aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, chlordane, parathion, captan, and 2,4-D. These products were effective and inexpensive. DDT soon became the chemical of choice in the Delta because of its broad-spectrum activity. But researchers observed harm to other plants and even animals, and overuse also caused resistance buildups in some pests.

NEW FORMULATIONS

In the 1950s, new pesticides were formulated, and with little concern about health safety at the time, many were used effectively on some crops, with little if any opposition. But by the 1960s, there was increased environmental awareness and a growing concern for the safe use of chemicals in agriculture. Research continued, and soon began to look at health risks and challenges that ag chemicals might pose on the farm.

More advancements in pesticides occurred with the development of pyrethroids and the introduction of the triazole, morpholine, imidazole, pyrimidine, and dicarboxamide families of fungicides.4

Initial results were promising, until it was discovered that these single mode of action products made them more selective and vulnerable to resistance. By the 1990s, research was concentrated on finding new members of existing families that would offer greater selectivity and better environmental and toxicological profiles. Some of these products offered the added benefit of being applied at only grams per acre rather than kilograms.

GENETIC ENGINEERING

More recently, genetically engineered crops, designed to produce their own insecticidal traits or resistance to broad spectrum herbicide products or pests, have become the standard. But resistance has continued to be a problem, making the use of these traits challenging.

New integrated pest management strategies are helping to reduce the risk of pest pressures, but more needs to be done.

Farmers in the Delta and industrywide, have learned from the past. Now, thanks to steady research and development by the ag chemical industry, there are more tools in the farmer’s arsenal to fight weeds and pests.

At the same time, many farmers are turning back the clock and integrating some of yesterday’s effective products into today’s crop management systems.

The future for ag chemicals may be uncertain, but the one constant is that research to find more effective ways to protect crops continues at the highest levels at universities, independent laboratories, and agribusiness companies — all teaming up to discover the next great weed and pest management tools.

But despite the challenges, few in agriculture would argue that, over the last 75 years, we’ve come a long way, baby.

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New Technical Guide for Africa

Last month, USAID, in collaboration with international and national research and development partners, released the first edition of the Fall Armyworm Technical Guide. This technical manual shares the latest protocols related to integrated pest management to control this agricultural pest in Africa.

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Delta f perss

cotton bollworm

Cotton diseases and insect control as resistance appears

Growers will have to make some difficult decisions related to foliar diseases and Bt-resistant worm pests.

Brad Robb | Jan 25, 2018

Mid-South cotton growers face several tough decisions for 2018 as they deal with hard-to-control diseases and the increasingly difficult problem of Bt-resistant worm pests.

Tucker Miller, president, Miller Entomological Service Inc., Drew, Ms., speaking Thursday at the National Conservation Systems Conferences in Memphis, Tn., said growers will need to look closely at varieties as well as other management options.

Miller, a frequent speaker at the conference, spoke to a packed meeting room about his experience over the last several years with bacterial blight and target leaf spot, potassium-associated foliar diseases. “Growers are going to need to make several important variety selection decisions this coming season, and those decisions need to be made based on good information,” says Miller. “They’ll need a variety that is resistant to bacterial blight and, because there is no variety that provides resistance to target leaf spot, they’ll have to consider other management options to try to control its level and to lessen the effect or impact of the leaf disease.”

Options may include decreasing seeding rates to produce a thinner stand, aggressive Pix management, possibly growing skip row cotton, or selecting a variety or row configuration that lends itself to a more open canopy to help minimize the spread of target leaf spot. “Growers might also try to manage this disease with more timely irrigation methods or even less irrigation,” says Miller. “Leaf shed was so bad in many parts of the fields I worked, if you squatted and looked down the row, you could see a rabbit two-hundred yards away.”

The Mid-South is supposedly in the low to medium risk range of the country for this problem, but Miller questions those range boundaries. Several factors, including irrigation and over-fertilization of nitrogen, may be exacerbating the problem. “It’s hard to get farmers to cut back to 80 or 90 units of nitrogen when they’re accustomed to putting out 120, and they don’t want to run out,” says Miller. “Fungicides are another option, but at $40 an acre, if you spray it twice, I just don’t know if it’s a cost effective application.”

Fungicide

Based on one data set Miller received from 2016 target spot research, a fungicide application to control the disease may provide a significant yield increase only 20 percent of the time. “It’s difficult for me to suggest an application of fungicide at first or second bloom with an 80 percent chance it won’t help,” says Miller.

Miller also talked frankly about the resistant worm (heliothis) problems many growers across the Mid-South and Southeast experienced last year. According to Miller, the problem started with a generation of worms exposed to Bt corn with the two identical proteins found in Bollgard ll or WideStrike ll cotton varieties. “When worms go through a generation and come out of corn then move to cotton, they’re exposed to the same proteins twice, but the second time, they’re surviving,” says Miller.

Dried bloom tags were everywhere when Miller scouted some Bt fields last year. At one point of the season, a report to one of his grower customers listed a high-dollar combination shot of Besiege, Acephate and Pix. “I recommended Pix to control plant growth, Acephate for plant bugs and Besiege for worms on July 16, and by July 29, we had to do it again in one field of Bollgard ll cotton,” says Miller.

One problem researchers across the board are concern about is how long the third protein – VIP—will remain viable if the same scenario presents itself once growers begin planting corn and cotton with the VIP protein. “It’s going to take some careful management for sure,” says Miller.

The 21st Annual National Conservation Systems Conferences will likely set a new record. Growers, Extension specialists, and agricultural researchers covering many disciplines present over 120 presentations over the day-and-a-half conference.

 

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Int’l Conference on Soil Remediation and Plant Protection (SRPP 2018)
March 23-25, 2018 | Guilin, China | Final Submission Due: Jan. 31, 2018
Home |
Dear Colleagues,
As an influential international conference, SRPP 2018 provides the experts with a valued opportunity to communicate with each other. A lot of participants from many kinds of fields will join in this grand international conference.
Speakers
If you wish to serve the conference as an invited speaker, please send email to us with your CV for evaluation.
– Prof. M. E. Asadi, Golestan Agricultural and natural resources research and education center, Iran
Title: Healthy soils with conservation agriculture systems
– Prof. Muhammad Ashraf, University of Sargodha, Pakistan
Title: Integrated Nutrient Management: A Strategy for the Rehabilitation of Metal Polluted Soils
– Prof. Nativ Dudai, Newe Ya’ar Research Center, Israel
– Prof. Rifat Hayat, PMAS- Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi, Pakistan
– Prof. Rafiq Islam, Ohio State University South Centers, USA
– Prof. Yu-Cai Liao, Huazhong Agricultural University, China
Call for Papers
We cordially invite you to submit or recommend papers to our conference through paper submission system. All the accepted papers will be published by “Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection” (ISSN: 2327-4336). You’re also welcome to submit abstracts for oral presentation.
Contact Us
Any questions please do not hesitate to let me know.
Email: Rolinrolin@126.com

 

 

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