Archive for the ‘Crop protection’ Category

Krishi Jagran

Farmers Panic as Pink Bollworm Attack on Cotton Reaches Alarming Levels in Punjab

Ayushi Raina Updated 23 September, 2021 2:11 PM IST Published on 23 September, 2021 2:08 PM IST

Pink Bollworm attack on cotton crop

The pink bollworm attack on Punjab’s cotton crop has turned out to be far worse than expected. It has created problems in almost one-fourth of the area in the largest cotton-growing districts of Bathinda and Mnasa, despite the fact that the attack had previously been felt in approximately 10-15% of the land in these areas.

Pest attacks have also spoiled crops in the border districts of Fazika and Muktsar, but to a lesser extent.

Damage has been determined to be above 50% in several districts in BathindaMaur, and Sangar blocks, with some areas reaching 60-70 percent, as even state agricultural department officials have conceded. The ETL has been determined to be greater than 10 adults per leaf, with a permitted limit of up to five adults.

Farmers are worried as the pink bollworm infestation has reached alarming levels, resorting to even un-recommended sprays in an attempt to eradicate it, but not getting any relief. In Punjab, cotton was planted on 3.04 lakh hectares, with 1.70 lakh hectares (56 percent of the total) in these two districts. The attack was first spotted in Bathinda and Mansa in the final week of August, but it was unable to be contained in almost a month and has instead been growing by the day.

Gurcharan Singh of Mansa’s Bhamme Khurd village ploughed his cotton crop on two acres on Wednesday. Gurcharan stated that after more spraying, the insect lingered and harmed the crop. He ploughed the crop because he had no other choice. “The pink bollworm attack is widespread, and if it is not stopped as soon as possible, other farmers may follow suit, and because there is no time left to plant another crop other than wheat in a month’s time, farmers would face enormous losses.” We want the government to completely compensate farmers for the harm caused by pest attacks,” said Ram Singh Bhainibagha, district president of BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) Mansa.

Officials from the state agricultural department are also on their toes. On Wednesday, the director of the department visited a number of villages in Bathinda.


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How Insect Saliva is Helping Crops Protect Against Pest Damage

Cowpea is one of Africa’s most important cash crop, and has been found to detect larvae and reduce feeding damage (Image by Toby Hudson)

A new study has unlocked the hidden ways in which important cash crops such as cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) tackle localised pest invasion and damage using natural defence mechanisms. Insights such as these are key for the future protection of our global agricultural production in the light of increasing pest outbreaks and crop damage.

Scientists have published research in which they have found an immune receptor in cowpea cells that can detect the saliva of caterpillars feeding on their leaves, causing a series of natural defence responses such as the release of chemicals that limit the rapid growth capabilities of the larvae. An example of such a defence mechanism is found when the bean pod borer (Maruca vitrata) larvae feed on cowpea, causing the release of a pheromone which attracts parasites to then feed on the larvae.

“Despite chemical controls, crop yield losses to pests and diseases generally range from 20 to 30 percent worldwide. Yet many varieties are naturally resistant or immune to specific pests,” explains biologist Adam Steinbrenner from the University of Washington. “Our findings are the first to identify an immune recognition mechanism that sounds the alarm against chewing insects.”

As of yet, very little is known about how plants are able to identify and combat pest threats, however this new study which is built on previous research by the same team has found that certain peptides known as inceptins are found in the saliva of the larval pests such as the beet armyworm (Spodoptera exigua) larvae – which is one of greatest threats to cowpea crops across Asia and North America. The beet armyworm is native to Southeast Asia and has colonised parts of America since the late 1800s. This pest is extremely damaging to crop foliage, with larvae being found to consume more than other major crop pests such as the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella).  

Beet armyworm larvae (Image by Russ Ottens, University of Georgia)

The inceptins are the spark that causes the cowpea defence mechanisms against feeding pests, ultimately resulting in larval damage or death. The research found inceptin receptors (INRs) on cowpea plant calls specifically. Unfortunately, there are limited ways to study cowpea crops, resulting in the team having to use tobacco plants to test how the INRs work in practice.

By inserting the gene for INR production into tobacco crops, the team were able to test what would happen in the presence of armyworm larvae. It was found that the INRs were triggered in response to the presence of certain protein fragments in the saliva of feeding caterpillars, as well as in response to direct feeding damage on leaves. The fragments of saliva protein that caused the defence response was found to be pieces of cowpea proteins that were broken down by the caterpillar during feeding. In the tobacco test crops, the presence of these proteins triggered the release of a plant hormone that is known to occur when under threat, resulting in the suppression of insect growth.

“Like many plant immune receptors, this receptor is encoded only by certain plant species but can be transferred across families to confer new signalling and defence functions,” the author wrote.

With the genomic techniques used in this study, the team were able to discover hidden information about plants natural defence mechanisms against pest damage. With the increasing global demand for food as well as more prevalent agricultural pest outbreaks, such studies must be conducted on numerous important food crops and a variety of environmental climates so we can better prepare for and mitigate future threats.

If you would like to read more on this subject, please see the links below:

armywormbeet armywormcowpeaAgriculture and International DevelopmentCrop healthFood and nutrition securityPlant Sciences

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Using the “Smell of Fear” To Protect Gardens and Crops From Destructive Insects

TOPICS:AgricultureAmerican Chemical SocietyEntomologyInsectInsecticidePesticides


Ladybug Close Up

For home gardeners and farmers, herbivorous insects present a major threat to their hard work and crop yields. The predator insects that feed on these bugs emit odors that pests can sense, which changes the pests’ behavior and even their physiology to avoid being eaten. With bugs becoming more resistant to traditional pesticides, researchers now report they have developed a way to bottle the “smell of fear” produced by predators to repel and disrupt destructive insects naturally without the need for harsh substances.

The researchers will present their results today at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS Fall 2021 is a hybrid meeting being held virtually and in-person August 22-26, and on-demand content will be available August 30-September 30. The meeting features more than 7,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

“It is not uncommon to use our senses to avoid risky situations. If a building was on fire, we as humans could use our senses of sight or smell to detect the threat,” says Sara Hermann, Ph.D., the project’s principal investigator. “There is evidence for such behavioral responses to risk across taxa that suggest prey organisms can detect predation threats, but the mechanisms for detection aren’t very well understood, especially with insects.”

“Insects rely on olfactory cues to find food, mates, and places to live, so this is a great opportunity to investigate how to use these smells to manipulate their behavior,” says Jessica Kansman, Ph.D., a postdoc who is presenting the work at the meeting. Hermann and Kansman are at the Pennsylvania State University.

Aphids are a highly destructive pest to an array of crops, and their large numbers, ability to transmit plant pathogens, and increased resistance to insecticides make them a persistent problem for growers. They also happen to be a favorite food of the ladybug, which gardeners welcome as a source of sustainable pest management. Hermann’s research has shown that aphids and other herbivorous insects will steer clear of fields and gardens if they can smell predators nearby. Not only that, but exposure to the odor cues given off by ladybugs can also cause aphids to slow their reproduction rates and increase their ability to grow wings, both of which are behaviors designed to avoid threats.

With these observations in mind, the research team set out to determine whether the olfactory cues given off by ladybugs could, by themselves, control pests. They started by identifying and extracting the volatile odor profile from live ladybugs using gas chromatography – mass spectrometry, which separates and allows for identification of the individual components of the ladybugs’ smell. To see which compounds the aphids would respond to, they hooked up the antennae of live aphids to an electroantennogram (EAG) machine and exposed them to each individual odor the predator emitted to see which compounds they detected. The strength of their reactions was measured based on the signal picked up by the EAG machine. Of the many compounds emitted by ladybugs, aphids had the strongest response to methoxypyrazines, such as isopropyl methoxypyrazine, isobutyl methoxypyrazine and sec-butyl methoxypyrazine. Once the compounds were identified, Hermann and team set out to create a special odor blend that can be used in an essential oil diffuser that will spread the scent over time across a garden or field.

Next, the team plans to conduct field tests of their scent diffusers to see if the effects on aphids and ladybugs are similar to what they observed in the lab. Hermann and Kansman also want to determine the dispersal area of the diffusers, and whether they could be applied to other pests and predators, as well as various types of crops. In addition, they are collaborating with a manufacturing company to design special diffusers for eventual commercial use by both farmers and gardeners.

A recorded media briefing on this topic will be posted Wednesday, August 25 at 9 a.m. Eastern time at www.acs.org/acsfall2021briefings.

The researchers acknowledge support and funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


Smell of fear: Harnessing predatory insect odor cues as a pest management tool for herbivorous insects


Predatory insects are highly valued tools in the sustainable management of herbivorous insects in agroecosystems. Considerable research focuses on recruiting and retaining natural enemies that consume and thus reduce herbivore populations that damage crop plants. However, the mere risk of predation can provoke changes in herbivore behavior and physiology that can influence herbivore reproductive capacity and survival. The contribution of these fitness affecting risk-responses (known as non-consumptive effects) in suppressing herbivorous pest populations as a pest management tool is far less explored, as well as identification of the mechanisms used by the herbivore to detect predation risk. The goal of our study was to ask 1) do the odor cues from predators play a role in risk detection by prey and 2) are these odor cues capable of eliciting non-consumptive effects in prey organisms? We ask these questions using the herbivorous green peach aphid (Myzus persicae (Sulzer)), the predatory multi-colored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis (Pallas)), and collards (Brassica oleracea) as a system. In this study, we first identified the volatile odor profile of H. axyridis using GC-MS, and assessed the bioactivity of the compounds and blend using GC-EAG. We further explored the impact of these odor cues on M. persicae using two-choice olfactometer assays. We also found that exposure to H. axyridis volatile odor cues affects M. persicae host-plant choices and reproductive capacity in laboratory experiments. This approach was critical in determining if prey odor cues lead to changes in herbivore behavior and performance that ultimately benefit plant productivity. Harnessing non-consumptive effects through the use of natural enemy odor cues is a promising future direction for applied chemical ecology in sustainable pest management.

We recommend

  1. New Research Reveals How Smell Receptors Work – Answers Decades-Old Question of Odor RecognitionMike O’Neill, SciTechDaily, 2021
  2. Natural Pest Control: Biological Control of Insect Pests Is Saving Farmers Billions of DollarsMike O’Neill, SciTechDaily, 2020
  3. Comparing Plant-Based Burgers – Which Smells the Most Like Real Beef?Mike O’Neill, SciTechDaily, 2021
  4. Return of the Zombie Cicadas: Manipulative Qualities of Fungal-Infected Flyers UnearthedMike O’Neill, SciTechDaily, 2020
  5. How Long to Play Dead in Order to Stay Alive? The Answer Is “Highly Strategic”Mike O’Neill, SciTechDaily, 2020
  1. Protecting gardens and crops from insects using the ‘smell of fear’by American Chemical Society, Phys.org, 2021
  2. Ladybugs may be cute, but watch out when they get near winePhys.org, 2007
  3. Aphids detect approaching predators using plant-borne vibrations and visual cuesMoshe Gish, Journal of Pest Science, 2021
  4. Changes in life history traits and transcriptional regulation of Coccinellini ladybirds in using alternative preyMei-Lan Chen et al., BMC Genomics, 2020
  5. Want to Travel the World & Practice Medicine? Try Locum TenensReachMD

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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.FILED UNDER:AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITYEDUCATION AND EXTENSION



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Aspergillus niger fungus growing on a white onion

Modified yeast inhibits fungal growth in plants

External application could reduce agricultural reliance on fungicides

AUTHOR: HOLLY OBER July 14, 2021 SHARE THIS: FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintFriendly

About 70-80% of crop losses due to microbial diseases are caused by fungi. Fungicides are key weapons in agriculture’s arsenal, but they pose environmental risks. Over time, fungi also develop a resistance to fungicides, leading growers on an endless quest for new and improved ways to combat fungal diseases. 

The latest development takes advantage of a natural plant defense against fungus. In a paper published in Biotechnology and Bioengineering, engineers and plant pathologists at UC Riverside describe a way to engineer a protein that blocks fungi from breaking down cell walls, as well as a way to produce this protein in quantity for external application as a natural fungicide. The work could lead to a new way of controlling plant disease that reduces reliance on conventional fungicides.

To gain entrance into plant tissues, fungi produce enzymes that use catalytic reactions to break down tough cell walls. Among these are polygalacturonases, or PGs, but plants are not helpless against this attack. Plants produce proteins called PG-inhibiting proteins, or PGIPs, that slow catalysis.

Yanran Li
Yanran Li

A group of UC Riverside researchers located the segment of DNA that tells the plant how to make PGIPs in common green beans. They inserted complete and partial segments into the genomes of baker’s yeast to make the yeast produce PGIPs. The team used yeast instead of plants because yeast has no PGIPs of its own to muddy the experiment and grows quicker than plants.

After confirming the yeast was replicating with the new DNA, the researchers introduced it to cultures of Botrytis cinerea, a fungus that causes gray mold rot in peaches and other crops; and Aspergillus niger, which causes black mold on grapes and other fruits and vegetables. 

Yeast that had both the complete and partial DNA segments that coded for PGIP production successfully retarded fungal growth. The result indicates the yeast was producing enough PGIPs to make the method a potential candidate for large-scale production.

Alexander Putman
Alexander Putman

“These results reaffirm the potential of using PGIPs as exogenous applied agents to inhibit fungal infection,” said Yanran Li, a Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering, who worked on the project with plant pathologist Alexander Putman in the Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology. “PGIPs only inhibit the infection process but are likely not fatal to any fungi. Therefore, the application of this natural plant protein-derived peptide to crops will likely have minimal impact on plant-microbe ecology.”

Li also said that PGIPs probably biodegrade into naturally occurring amino acids, meaning fewer potential effects for consumers and the environment when compared with synthetic small molecule fungicides.

“The generation of transgenic plants is time-consuming and the application of such transgenic crops in agricultural industry requires a long approval period. On the other hand, the engineered PGIPs that are derived from natural proteins are applicable as a fast-track product for FDA approval, if they can be utilized exogenously in a manner similar to a fungicide,” Li said.

By tweaking the yeast a slightly different way, the researchers were able to make it exude PGIPs for external application. Previous studies have shown freeze drying naturally occurring microbes on apples, then reconstituting them in a solution and spraying them on crops, greatly reduces fungal disease and loss during shipping. The authors suggest that PGIP-expressing yeast could be used the same way. They caution, however, that because plants also form beneficial relationships with some fungi, future research needs to ensure plants only repel harmful fungi.

Li will continue to engineer PGIPs for enhanced efficiency and broader spectrum against various pathogenic fungi. Meanwhile, Li and Putman will keep evaluating the potential of using engineered PGIPs to suppress fungi-induced pre-harvest and post-harvest disease.  

Li and Putman were joined in the research by doctoral student Tiffany Chiu and plant pathologist Anita Behari, both of whom are at UC Riverside, and Justin Chartron, who was a professor at UC Riverside when the research was conducted. The paper, “Exploring the potential of engineering polygalacturonase‐inhibiting protein as an ecological, friendly, and nontoxic pest control agent,” is available here. The work was supported by LG Chem Ltd. and the Frank G. and Janice B. Delfino Agricultural Technology Research Initiative and partially supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Header photo: Aspergillus niger fungus growing on a white onion. (S. K. Mohan, Bugwood.org)

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AUGUST 12, 2021

Researchers identify new enzyme that infects plants—paving the way for potential disease prevention

by University of York

potato plant
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

By discovering previously unexplored ways in which crop pathogens break through plant cell walls, the scientists have opened up opportunities for developing effective disease control technologies.

The new research, published in Science, describes a family of enzymes found in a microorganism called Phytophthora infestans. The enzymes enable crop pathogens to degrade pectin—a key component of plant cell walls—thereby enabling the pathogens to break through the plant’s defences to infect the plant.

Led by biologists and chemists from the University of York, the international team of researchers discovered the new class of enzymes that attack pectin called LPMOs. The team also showed that disabling the gene that encodes this enzyme rendered the pathogen incapable of infecting the host.

P. infestans is known to cause potato late blight, a devastating plant disease that led to widespread starvation in Europe and more than a million deaths in Ireland in the 1840s, in what became known as ‘The Great Famine’. Plant infection continues to cause billions of dollars’ worth of damage to global crop production each year and continues to threaten world food security.

The identification of this new gene could open up new ways of protecting crops from this important group of pathogens.

Lead author on the report, Dr. Federico Sabbadin, from the Biology Department’s Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP), at the University of York said: “These new enzymes appear to be important in all plant pathogenic oomycetes, and this discovery opens the way for potentially powerful strategies in crop protection”.

Professor Simon McQueen-Mason, also from CNAP, remarked that the work was “the result of interdisciplinary collaborations between biologists and chemists at York along with plant pathologists at the James Hutton Institute, and genomicists at CNRS, with invaluable molecular insights from Professor Neil Bruce (CNAP) and Professors Gideon Davies and Paul Walton in the Department of Chemistry at York.”

Explore furtherIrish potato famine pathogen stoked outbreaks on six continents

More information: Secreted pectin monooxygenases drive plant infection by pathogenic oomycetes, Science (2021). DOI: 10.1126/science.abj1342Journal information:ScienceProvided by University of York

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Protecting Plants Will Protect People and the Planet

ISA Inerpress News Agency

By Barbara WellsReprint |         |  Print | Send by email

ROME, Jul 26 2021 (IPS) – Back-to-back droughts followed by plagues of locusts have pushed over a million people in southern Madagascar to the brink of starvation in recent months. In the worst famine in half a century, villagers have sold their possessions and are eating the locusts, raw cactus fruits, and wild leaves to survive.

Barbara WellsInstead of bringing relief, this year’s rains were accompanied by warm temperatures that created the ideal conditions for infestations of fall armyworm, which destroys mainly maize, one of the main food crops of sub-Saharan Africa.

Drought and famine are not strangers to southern Madagascar, and other areas of eastern Africa, but climate change bringing warmer temperatures is believed to be exacerbating this latest tragedy, according to The Deep South, a new report by the World Bank.

Up to 40% of global food output is lost each year through pests and diseases, according to FAO estimates, while up to 811 million people suffer from hunger. Climate change is one of several factors driving this threat, while trade and travel transport plant pests and pathogens around the world, and environmental degradation facilitates their establishment.

Crop pests and pathogens have threatened food supplies since agriculture began. The Irish potato famine of the late 1840s, caused by late blight disease, killed about one million people. The ancient Greeks and Romans were well familiar with wheat stem rust, which continues to destroy harvests in developing countries.

But recent research on the impact of temperature increases in the tropics caused by climate change has documented an expansion of some crop pests and diseases into more northern and southern latitudes at an average of about 2.7 km a year.

Prevention is critical to confronting such threats, as brutally demonstrated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on humankind. It is far more cost-effective to protect plants from pests and diseases rather than tackling full-blown emergencies.

One way to protect food production is with pest- and disease-resistant crop varieties, meaning that the conservation, sharing, and use of crop biodiversity to breed resistant varieties is a key component of the global battle for food security.

CGIAR manages a network of publicly-held gene banks around the world that safeguard and share crop biodiversity and facilitate its use in breeding more resistant, climate-resilient and productive varieties. It is essential that this exchange doesn’t exacerbate the problem, so CGIAR works with international and national plant health authorities to ensure that material distributed is free of pests and pathogens, following the highest standards and protocols for sharing plant germplasm. The distribution and use of that germplasm for crop improvement is essential for cutting the estimated 540 billion US dollars of losses due to plant diseases annually.

Understanding the relationship between climate change and plant health is key to conserving biodiversity and boosting food production today and for future generations. Human-driven climate change is the challenge of our time. It poses grave threats to agriculture and is already affecting the food security and incomes of small-scale farming households across the developing world.

We need to improve the tools and innovations available to farmers. Rice production is both a driver and victim of climate change. Extreme weather events menace the livelihoods of 144 million smallholder rice farmers. Yet traditional cultivation methods such as flooded paddies contribute approximately 10% of global man-made methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By leveraging rice genetic diversity and improving cultivation techniques we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance efficiency, and help farmers adapt to future climates.

We also need to be cognizant that gender relationships matter in crop management. A lack of gender perspectives has hindered wider adoption of resistant varieties and practices such as integrated pest management. Collaboration between social and crop scientists to co-design inclusive innovations is essential.

Men and women often value different aspects of crops and technologies. Men may value high yielding disease-resistant varieties, whereas women prioritize traits related to food security, such as early maturity. Incorporating women’s preferences into a new variety is a question of gender equity and economic necessity. Women produce a significant proportion of the food grown globally. If they had the same access to productive resources as men, such as improved varieties, women could increase yields by 20-30%, which would generate up to a 4% increase in the total agricultural output of developing countries.

Practices to grow healthy crops also need to include environmental considerations. What is known as a One Health Approach starts from the recognition that life is not segmented. All is connected. Rooted in concerns over threats of zoonotic diseases spreading from animals, especially livestock, to humans, the concept has been broadened to encompass agriculture and the environment.

This ecosystem approach combines different strategies and practices, such as minimizing pesticide use. This helps protect pollinators, animals that eat crop pests, and other beneficial organisms.

The challenge is to produce enough food to feed a growing population without increasing agriculture’s negative impacts on the environment, particularly through greenhouse gas emissions and unsustainable farming practices that degrade vital soil and water resources, and threaten biodiversity.

Behavioral and policy change on the part of farmers, consumers, and governments will be just as important as technological innovation to achieve this.

The goal of zero hunger is unattainable without the vibrancy of healthy plants, the source of the food we eat and the air we breathe. The quest for a food secure future, enshrined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, requires us to combine research and development with local and international cooperation so that efforts led by CGIAR to protect plant health, and increase agriculture’s benefits, reach the communities most in need.

Barbara H. Wells MSc, PhD is the Global Director of Genetic Innovation at the CGIAR and Director General of the International Potato Center. She has worked in senior-executive level in the agricultural and forestry sectors for over 30 years.https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.f88235f49a156f8b4cab34c7bc1a0acc.en.html#dnt=false&id=twitter-widget-0&lang=en&screen_name=IPSNewsUNBureau&show_count=false&show_screen_name=true&size=l&time=1629524871809

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What is the

The Plantwise Knowledge Bank is a free online resource that gathers plant health information from across the world. Over 15,000 pieces of content, which include, pest management decision guide’s (PMDG), factsheets for farmers (PFFF), species pages, photosheets, manuals and video factsheets in over 100 languages.

Plantwise Knowledge Bank Homepage
Plantwise Knowledge Bank website home page © CABI

It also provides the user with really useful tools including the diagnostic tool, country resources, pest alerts, horizon tool, interactive maps and booklet builder.

It’s modern and dynamic design makes it easy to use. The site is also mobile responsive which enables our smartphone users in Plantwise countries to access the site with ease.

Plantwise Knowledge Bank
The Plantwise Knowledge Bank information flow © CABI

The  Plantwise knowledge bank links all actors in the plant health system – plant clinics, researchers, extension workers, farmers and government bodies – to the information they need for timely action against crop pests and diseases. It supports the Plantwise goal: lose less, feed more by collecting, analyzing and disseminating pest data in order to enable:

– Identification and management of plant pests

– Protection against pest and disease threats

– Secure storage and analysis of national plant pest data

Search content

The content can be searched using the search box that appears on the homepage. You can use the free text search to search for a pest problem or crop by common or scientific name. You can then filter by country, region, category or language. Additional search support can be found here, along with details on how to use the Boolean operators.

Diagnostic tool

The diagnostic tool allows you to diagnose a crop problem through the symptoms observed and the part of the plant affected. Results from the diagnostic search are given as a list of possible pests or diseases, each with an image, and a technical factsheet further describing the problem.

Country resources

The country resources give dynamic location specific information including crop variety list, guidelines, diagnostic field guides, pesticide red lists and country specific plant health websites. It will soon also contain links to country-specific factsheets. It allows users to get a range of information that refers specifically to their chosen country.

Pest alerts

Pest alerts deliver information about new pests straight to your inbox. You can sign up to receive email alerts containing recent literature reports for a specific country or region, or recent literature reports from around the globe.

Horizon Scanning Tool

The Horizon Scanning Tool, developed under CABI’s Action on Invasives programme, helps you identify and categorize species that might enter your country. Using data from CABI Compendia datasheets, the tool evaluates whether there is a potential threat of an invasive species, based on countries with similar climates, trade connections or major transport links to the source country.

Booklet builder

Some factsheets can be added to a booklet, using the booklet builder, and are denoted by 📖. Click on the open book symbol to add a factsheet to the booklet. The booklet builder helps you to build a PDF booklet containing factsheets of your choice. Further details can be found here.

Interactive Map

Mapping plant pests and diseases is critical to plant protection decision-making. The knowledge bank allows users to plot multiple species of crops and pests to track spread. With climate overlays, predictive scenarios can be added.

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Distribution map on the Plantwise Knowledge Bank © CABI

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Contact us via email to share links to factsheets or any queries: plantwise@cabi.org

Visit the The Plantwise Knowledge BankPlantwisePlantwise Knowledge Bankpest alertsplant healthplant pestsCrop healthDevelopment communication and extensionInvasive species

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By Tracking the Weather, A New System Can Protect Brazilian Farmers from Wheat Blast

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Cynthia Carmona

Aug 09, 2021

Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute scientist during the surveillance training program in Bangladesh
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute scientist during the surveillance training program in Bangladesh

This post is written by Doug Johnson.

Every year, the spores of the wheat blast fungus lie in wait on South American and Bangladeshi farms. In most years, the pathogen has only a small impact on the countries’ wheat crops. But, the disease spreads quickly, and when the conditions are right, there’s a risk of a large outbreak — which can pose a serious threat to the food security and livelihood of farmers in a specific year.

To minimize this risk, an international partnership of researchers and organizations have created the wheat blast Early Warning System (EWS), a digital platform that notifies farmers and officials when weather conditions are ideal for the fungus to spread. The team is introducing the technology to Brazil. Wheat blast was originally discovered in the country in 1985.

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), Brazil’s University of Passo Fundo (UPF) and others developed the tool with support from USAID under the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia project. Although first developed for Bangladesh, the team is excited that the EWS is now endorsed and being used by agriculture workers in Brazil. The team hopes that the system will give farmers time to take preventative measures against wheat blast. Outbreaks can massively reduce crop yields if no preventative actions are taken.

“It can be very severe. It can cause a lot of damage,” says Maurício Fernandes, a plant epidemiologist with EMBRAPA.

Striking first

In order to expand into a full outbreak, wheat blast requires specific temperature and humidity conditions. So, Fernandes and his team developed a digital platform that runs weather data through an algorithm to determine the times and places in which outbreaks are likely to occur.

If the system sees a region is going to grow hot and humid enough for the fungus to thrive, it sends an automated message to the agriculture workers in the area. These messages — texts or emails — alert them to take preemptive measures against the disease.

While over 6,000 extension agents in Bangladesh are signed up for disease early warnings, most farmers in Brazil are associated with cooperatives. Fernandes and his peers are connecting with these groups, which can send them weather data to help inform the EWS. The cooperatives can also spread these alerts through their websites or in-house applications.

Wheat blast can deform a plant quickly and, given the right conditions, even kill it. As such, these advanced warnings are essential to mitigate losses. The alerts sent out will recommend that farmers apply fungicide, which only works when applied before infection. 

“If the pathogen has already affected the plant, the fungicides will have no effect,” Fernandes says.

A blast from the past

The cause of wheat blast, Magnaporthe oryzae, is also responsible for rice blast, and the pathogen likely jumped between the two crops. Because wheat had not previously been exposed to it, most wheat cultivars at the time had no natural resistance to Magnaporthe oryzae, according to Fernandes. Some newer varieties are moderately resistant to the disease, but the availability of sufficient seed for farmers remains limited.

The pathogen targets the wheat ear first, deforming it in less than a week after symptoms first appear. It can spread through leftover infected seeds and crop residue, but its spores can also travel vast distances through the air.

If the fungus spreads and infects enough plants, it can wreak havoc on nearby agriculture. In the 1990s — shortly after its discovery — wheat blast impacted around three million hectares of wheat in South America. Back in 2016, the disease appeared in Bangladesh and South Asia for the first time, and the resulting outbreak covered around 15,000 hectares of land. CGIAR estimates that the disease has the potential to reduce the region’s wheat production by 85 million tons.

In Brazil, wheat blast outbreaks can have a marked impact on the country’s agricultural output. During a major outbreak in 2009, the disease affected as many as three million hectares of crops in South America. As such, the EWS is an invaluable tool to support food security and farmer livelihoods. Fernandes also notes that affected regions can go multiple years between large outbreaks, but the threat remains.

“People forget about the disease, then you have an outbreak again,” he says.

Essential partnerships

The EWS has its roots in Brazil, but it took some time before the team launched it there. In 2017, Fernandes and his peers published a piece of research proposing the model. After that, Fernandes, Timothy Krupnik (a senior scientist and country representative with CIMMYT in Bangladesh involved with the project) and a slew of researchers and organizations launched a pilot project in Bangladesh.

There are more than 6,000 agriculture extension officers making use of the EWS the team developed for Bangladesh. Much like in Brazil, these officers receive an automated email or text message when weather conditions are ideal for wheat blast to thrive and spread. The team used this proof of concept to bring it back to Brazil, where the system was originally developed.

Krupnik notes that the Brazil platform is something of a “homecoming” for this work. He also noted that cooperation between the researchers, organizations and agriculture workers in Brazil and Bangladesh were instrumental in creating the system.

“From this, we’re able to have a partnership that I think will have a significant outcome in Brazil, from a relatively small investment in research supplied in Bangladesh. That shows you the power of partnerships and how solutions can be found to pressing agricultural problems through collaborative science, across continents,” he says.FILED UNDER:AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY

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Kenyan small farmers look to genetically engineered disease resistant cassava to improve food security

Xinhua | July 28, 2021

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Credit: Japhet
Credit: Japhet

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Catherine Taracha, a scientist at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (Kalro), is looking forward to starting planting genetically modified (GM) cassava on a trial basis after the government recently approved the process.

“We will do the trials in Western Kenya, at the Coast and in the Eastern part,” Taracha said Monday during a virtual meeting in Nairobi, expressing optimism that in two year’s time, farmers across the country and other parts of East Africa would start growing the crop commercially.Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.SIGN UP

In Kenya, only 970,000 tonnes of cassava are produced annually, and this is because of diseases like cassava mosaic and brown streak as well as pests like whiteflies and mealybugs.

For millions of farmers across East Africa, the cassava mosaic disease was a real problem in the mid-1990s as it spread like bush fire in the region, causing over 80 percent yield losses.

Annual yield losses due to the disease are estimated at 7 billion shillings (about 65 million U.S. dollars) in East and Central Africa, according to Taracha.

“We are banking on the GM crop to boost this crop. There is a huge market for cassava because of its huge potential,” she said.

Read the original postRelated article:  China to restrict reliance on foreign seed companies to foster lagging innovation in genetic engineering and advanced breeding

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Click here to view in browser.   SIL’s NEW Soybean Rust Crash Course and Rust Spray Calculator available now!
JULY 29, 2021 Soybean field with heavy rust pressure (brown patches) interspersed with strips that were treated for soybean rust with fungicide. Photo credit: Sikora et al.   Soybean rust is one of the most significant diseases that affects soybean yield. It can spread quickly and cause up to an 80% loss in yield. It’s a frustrating challenge for producers and breeders, but there are practices and management techniques that growers can employ to ensure a good return on investment for their soybean production.

SIL’s new course, the Soybean Rust Crash Course, is designed for growers, practitioners, breeders, and researchers to learn how to identify the disease, scout for disease at the optimal stage, and manage the disease before it’s too late.     The Soybean Rust Crash Course is free and includes four modules: 1. The Pathogen and symptoms; 2. Scouting; 3. Management; and 4. For breeders and researchers, more information on data collection and varietal resistance.

Module 3 covers disease management and includes a Rust Spray Calculator, designed to aid in environmentally responsible and economically feasible decision-making on whether or not fungicides should be used to control rust outbreaks. The calculator bases recommendations on growth of the crop and rust pressure, and then determines the economic gain that can be achieved by considering a grower’s local fungicide cost, labor cost, and grain price.   The Rust Spray Calculator provides growers with evidence-based decision making on whether they should use fungicides to control rust observed in their fields.   The importance of scouting a field from beginning bloom to full seed development cannot be overemphasized. Finding the disease before it takes over provides an opportunity to spray with fungicide and save up to 80% of yield. The Soybean Rust Crash Course, combined with the Rust Spray Calculator, provides specific recommendations for growers, from scouting techniques and identification of soybean rust, to analyzing the potential economic benefits of spraying. For breeders and researchers, the course goes into more depth about plot-level data collection and the current state of varietal resistance.

Successful completion of the Soybean Rust Crash Course will result in a Certificate of Completion that can be shared on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.   SIL’s Disease Management program has several other resources that complement the new Soybean Rust Crash Course and Rust Spray Calculator including: The Field Guide to African Disease, Pests, and Nutrition Deficiencies The Guide to African Soybean Seedborne Diseases and Pests The Soybean Rust Disease Bulletin The Soybean Innovation Lab Disease and Pest ID Board on Facebook The Rust Hot Spot Map – see below You can find several other free courses at SIL-University   The Tropical Soybean Information Portal (TSIP) features a Rust Hot Spot Map. The map is a tool containing trial and operator information on rust disease incidence and severity over seven seasons and 57 locations. To view the Rust Hot Spot Map, click on the pathogen icon on the left side of the map located on the TSIP homepage.     Like On Facebook Like On Facebook Follow On Twitter Follow On Twitter Visit Our Website Visit Our Website Contact Us Contact Us   Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Soybean Value Chain Research (Soybean Innovation Lab)
1301 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801 * Tel. (217) 333-7425 * soybeaninnovationlab@illinois.edu  

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