Archive for the ‘Crop protection’ Category

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Syngenta and FMC to bring to market breakthrough technology to control rice weeds in Asia. (Photo: Business Wire)

Syngenta and FMC to bring to market breakthrough technology to control rice weeds in Asia. Photo: Business Wire

Syngenta Crop Protection and FMC Corporation have announced an agreement to bring to market a breakthrough technology to control grass weeds in rice in Asia. The new active ingredient Tetflupyrolimet, discovered and developed by FMC with support from Syngenta for the development in rice, marks the first major herbicide with a novel mode of action (DHODH – HRAC Group 28) in over three decades, promising relief to farmers challenged by weed resistance to existing herbicides.

Tetflupyrolimet boosts the yield and quality of rice production by delivering season-long control of the most significant grass weeds, which compete with the crop for water, fertilizer, light and space, and host pests and diseases that impact rice farming. A further benefit of this technology is that it can be used at low rates with good crop safety. In addition to being easy to apply in traditional transplanted rice, the herbicide is also highly suited to direct-seeded rice, paving the way for the greater adoption of modern and more environmentally friendly cropping systems.

“This innovation will drive a step-change in the yield and quality of rice harvests, address the growing challenge of weed resistance, and could transform the lives of millions of rice farmers,” said Ioana Tudor, Global Head of Marketing at Syngenta Crop Protection. “At Syngenta, we are excited by the potential of this new technology to elevate the sustainability of global rice production.”

Rice production is central to the livelihoods of an estimated 150 million farmers globally, who supply a fifth of the world’s dietary energy. It is the most important food crop in developing countries, accounting for close to 30 percent of the total calorific intake of these populations. Rice farming is also one of the most important sources of employment in rural areas.

Ag Tech Talk Podcast: How the IoT is Changing the Crop Inputs Industry

Under the agreement, Syngenta and FMC will both bring Tetflupyrolimet based products to key rice markets in Asia. Syngenta will register and commercialize Tetflupyrolimet in China – the world’s largest rice market. In addition, Syngenta will commercialize products containing mixtures of Tetflupyrolimet for rice in India, Vietnam, Indonesia, as well as in Japan and South Korea. FMC will register and commercialize Tetflupyrolimet and an array of products in all these countries, except in China where it will focus on mixtures for rice. Syngenta will further exclusively commercialize Tetflupyrolimet for rice in Bangladesh.

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Approach could be a more humane way to protect the world’s food supply

A small mouse with big eyes
A house mouse sitting in a yard in Australia Passing Traveller/Shutterstock

House mice may look cute, but they’re little monsters when it comes to crops. The rodents destroy 70 million tons of rice, wheat, and maize each year by devouring and infesting stored grain. They also dig up and eat the seeds farmers have planted.

Humans have been locked in a battle with these pests for millennia, using everything from cats to poisons. A new study may have found a better—and more humane—alternative: camouflaging fields with a scent that makes the seeds practically undetectable to mice.

It’s a “simple but elegant” solution, says Nils Christian Stenseth, a biologist at the University of Oslo and an expert of rodent impacts on crops who was not involved with the work. The approach, he says, could be applied to other crop pests such as insects and rats.

Mice rely on their sense of smell to find food. When it comes to wheat, that means sniffing out wheat germ, the embryo inside the seed that develops into the plant. House mice (Mus musculus) are an especially big problem in Australia, because they are not native. During years when their populations explode, the rodents can cause significant losses to the country’s $13 billion wheat harvest.

Farmers in Australia have mainly tried to control the mice with poisons and pesticides, says Peter Banks, a biologist at the University of Sydney. But these chemicals have to be reapplied often, which gets expensive. They can also kill birds and other wildlife.

Hay destroyed by mice
Hay destroyed by mice when a mouse plague hit Australia in 2021Jill Gralow/Reuters

In the new study, Banks and his colleagues modified a strategy that has proved successful in protecting endangered birds in New Zealand: throwing nonnative predators off the scent of their prey by robbing the scent of its meaning. In the New Zealand study, scientists smeared birds’ scents in places birds would never be found, such as piles of rocks. After a few days, cats and other predators began to view these scents as “misinformation.” When the native ground-nesting shorebirds arrived for their nesting season, the predators didn’t bother pursuing them even though they could smell them.

To try something similar for mice, Banks and his colleagues divided a wheat farm in rural New South Wales in Australia into 60 plots of 10 by 10 meters where wheat would be sown. The team sprayed unsown plots with wheat germ oil, hoping local mice would learn to associate wheat fields with a waste of their time and energy. In other fields, the team sprayed the soil with wheat germ oil after sowing, whereas other plots were left untreated.

Unlike in the New Zealand study, attempts to get the mice to see the wheat germ scent as a false signal largely didn’t work. Instead, “camouflaging” wheat fields with the scent did; in fields where the scent was overwhelming, the mice couldn’t seem to figure out where the seeds were. The camouflaged plots suffered 74% less damage than the untreated plot, the team reports today in Nature Sustainability.  

The equipment needed to spray the wheat germ scent on soil is part of common farm machinery, Banks notes, and wheat germ oil is an inexpensive byproduct of wheat milling. So the approach should be relatively easy to adopt by farmers, he says.

“This is a really nice piece of work,” says Peter Brown, a biologist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, an Australian government agency that funds and performs scientific research. Still, he says, the researchers need to figure out how much wheat germ oil farmers would need to apply—and how often—before the work can be translated to the real world. “Should it be applied every year, or just when mouse numbers are high at sowing? Lots of questions remain.”

doi: 10.1126/science.adi8526

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Soumya Sagar


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Wednesday, 03 May 2023 18:45:23

Grahame Jackson posted a new submission ‘Climate change impacts on plant pathogens, food security and paths forward’


Climate change impacts on plant pathogens, food security and paths forward

Nature Reviews Microbiology

Nature Reviews Microbiology (2023)

Plant disease outbreaks pose significant risks to global food security and environmental sustainability worldwide, and result in the loss of primary productivity and biodiversity that negatively impact the environmental and socio-economic conditions of affected regions. Climate change further increases outbreak risks by altering pathogen evolution and host–pathogen interactions and facilitating the emergence of new pathogenic strains. Pathogen range can shift, increasing the spread of plant diseases in new areas. In this Review, we examine how plant disease pressures are likely to change under future climate scenarios and how these changes will relate to plant productivity in natural and agricultural ecosystems. We explore current and future impacts of climate change on pathogen biogeography, disease incidence and severity, and their effects on natural ecosystems, agriculture and food production. We propose that amendment of the current conceptual framework and incorporation of eco-evolutionary theories into research could improve our mechanistic understanding and prediction of pathogen spread in future climates, to mitigate the future risk of disease outbreaks. We highlight the need for a science–policy interface that works closely with relevant intergovernmental organizations to provide effective monitoring and management of plant disease under future climate scenarios, to ensure long-term food and nutrient security and sustainability of natural ecosystems.

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Timing Matters When Reducing Fusarium Head Blight in Winter Barley

USDA Agricultural Research Service sent this bulletin at 05/15/2023 10:10 AM EDT

View as a webpage ARS News Service ARS News Service Timing Matters When Reducing Fusarium Head Blight in Winter Barley For media inquiries contact: Jessica Ryan, (301) 892-0085
May 15, 2023 When Fusarium head blight (FHB) threatens winter barley, the best time to apply a fungicide is about six days after full barley head emergence, according to a recent study published in Plant Disease. FHB, also known as scab, is a fungal disease that attacks small grains, discoloring the heads and contaminating the grain with the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON), a toxic compound also known as vomitoxin. For barley, the most common grain used to make malt for beer and spirits, even a small amount of DON can cause crops to be rejected by purchasers. The disease in malted barley kernels may lead to gushing, or the rapid and uncontrolled foaming of beer, making the crop unusable for beer production. In a four-year study, researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the University of Minnesota assessed three different fungicides for FHB reduction. The researchers evaluated the amount of DON present in mature winter barley heads following a fungicide application at one of three growth stages — half heading, full heading, and six days after full barley head emergence.  A stalk of healthy barley next to infected barley Healthy resistant barley (right) and susceptible barley shows symptoms of Fusarium head blight (left). (Photo by Brian Steffenson, University of Minnesota)  “The latest timing of fungicide application reduced DON significantly more than the early timing for all three fungicides tested in the study,”said Christina Cowger, small grains pathologist at ARS’s Plant Science Research Unit in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Applying fungicide before all heads were emerged did not significantly reduce DON in winter barley as compared to not spraying at all. If scab is threatening, growers should wait about six days after barley heads have all appeared before applying fungicide.” According to Cowger, eastern U.S. barley growers have two main tools for FHB management —plant moderately resistant varieties and apply a fungicide. By understanding the best timing for fungicide to minimize FHB, growers can manage high-FHB epidemic years and maximize profits from malting barley. FHB is one of the factors limiting the global production of barley since it can result in yield loss and economic damage. According to the American Phytopathological Society, the disease has cost U.S. wheat and barley farmers more than $3 billion since 1990. “Year in and year out, FHB is the disease that most threatens profitable wheat and barley production in the U.S.,” Cowger said. “Knowing how to get the most out of our FHB management tools is key to small grain profitability.” The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in U.S. agricultural research results in $20 of economic impact. Interested in reading more about ARS research? Visit our news archive U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Agricultural Research Service

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The profitability of planting transgenic eggplants

Published February 3, 2023, 5:00 PM

by Manila Bulletin Agriculture

Eggplants are among the vegetables being sold in the market (Henrylito D. Tacio)

By Henrylito D. Tacio

The eggplant is used in various cuisines around the world. It can be sliced, battered, and deep-fried, and then served with various sauces.  It can also be stuffed with meat, rice, or other fillings and then baked. In the Philippines, eggplant is one of the main ingredients of pinakbet, torta, sinigang, ensalada, and kare-kare.   

The popularity of eggplant is the reason why it is the number one vegetable in the country – in terms of area planted (20,000 hectares) and volume of production (179,000 metric tons).  Most of the top producing regions are located in Luzon like Ilocos, Central Luzon, Cagayan Valley, CALABARZON (composed of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) and Bicol.

Resource-poor farmers in many provinces grow eggplant and depend on it for their livelihood. One of them is Edgar C. Talasan, a vegetable farmer from barangay Imalutao in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon. At one time, he planted 2,500 eggplants in his farm. In just one crop cycle, he got a gross income of P84,000. 

From the income of his farm, he was able to raise his family well. In fact, he sent his daughter through college by selling the vegetables harvested from his farm. “I was happy and content in my little kingdom,” he said.

But what makes him sad is the fact that eggplant production in the country suffers a severe yield loss from insect pests, diseases and extreme environmental conditions. In a technology forum he attended in Pangasinan, he realized that eggplant growers sprayed their crops with chemicals once a day to protect the eggplants from infestation. 

Destructive eggplant pest

The most destructive insect pest that attacks the crop is called the eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB). Scientifically, it is called Leucinodes orbonalis, a moth species prevalent in Asia and Africa. The moths’ larvae feed on eggplant shoots and fruits until maturity. 

How EFSB destroys an eggplant. Picture taken from a lecture (Henrylito D. Tacio)

“The EFSB can cause as much as 50-75 percent loss of fruits,” said former Science Secretary Emil Q. Javier. “The worm of the insect bore tunnels in the fruit, rendering them unfit for consumption.”

Unfortunately, there is no known genetic resistance to EFSB in cultivated and wild eggplants.  “The insects are concealed in the shoots and fruits and are difficult to reach,” Dr. Javier explained. 

To reduce the population of EFSB, some farmers practice integrated pest management, which include: regular crop rotation, or intercropping eggplant with other vegetables; removal and burying of infested and damaged shoots and fruits; and using nylon net barriers to protect plants from the insects. 

Other farmers employ the following: using light or pheromone traps; growing eggplants in a screen house before transplanting in their farms; and conservation of beneficial arthropods (spiders, parasitoids, and predators). 

Using pesticides 



But there are farmers who spray their eggplants almost every other day with insecticides to protect the crops. 

In his 15 years of vegetable farming, Talasan said that in every eggplant cropping cycle, he sprayed at least twice a week. For every 1,000 eggplant hills, he used 0.5 kilogram of Lannate, two bottles (250 mL) of Prevathon, two bottles (250 mL) of Alika, one liter of Karate, one kilogram of Daconil, and 0.5 liter of Selecron. 

The current method of spraying chemicals to eggplants in order to control EFSB is unacceptable, according to Dr. Emiliana Bernardo, an entomologist or a scientist who studies insects. 

The practice is also unhealthy to consumers, farmers, and the environment, said Dr. Bernardo, who is also a member of the Institutional Biosafety Committee of the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

She said studies conducted in major eggplant producing provinces found that almost all farmers use chemical insecticides and that some even dip the unharvested eggplant fruits in a mix of chemicals just to ensure that harvests are marketable. 

“The very basic question is, which is safer, the present practice or the alternative, the Bt eggplant which is rigorously evaluated by experts?” she asked. “Is bathing the unharvested eggplant fruits in chemicals, which would end up in people’s dinner tables, safe?” 

Bt eggplant

 Are there other ways of controlling EFSB?  Scientists who tried various methods came up with Bt eggplant, a genetically modified (GM) crop. Bt stands for Bacillus thuringiensis

Bt eggplant (Biotech Infocenter of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture

 “Bt talong was developed by genetically engineering a gene from the bacteria so that the genetically modified eggplants now produce a protein that defends it against insect attacks,” explained Dr. Michael Purugganan, a Filipino plant geneticist who is the Dean of Science at the New York University.

“When ingested by the larvae of the target insect, the Bt protein is activated in the gut’s alkaline condition and punctures the mid-gut leaving the insect unable to eat. The insect dies within a few days,” noted a briefing paper circulated by the Laguna-based International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). 

Conventional eggplant vs Bt eggplant. (Biotech Infocenter of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture)

Bt is present in the Philippine soil and has been in use for years without any harmful effects. As it comes from the earth itself, Bt is very natural, according to Dr. Bernardo. In 1901, Bt was discovered to have an insecticidal property. By the 1950s, it became a well-known biological insecticide. 

Bt is easily cultured by fermentation,” the ISAAA briefing paper said. “Thus, over the last 40 years, Bt has been used as an insecticide by farmers worldwide. Organic farming has benefited from Bt insecticide, as it is one of the very few pesticides permitted by organic standards. The insecticide is applied either as a spray or as ground applications. It comes in both granules and liquefied form.”

The first Bt eggplant was developed by the Indian Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Limited (Mahyco).  The Institute of Plant Breeding at the University of the Philippines at Los Baños (UPLB) has developed the Bt eggplant in the country, in partnership with Mahyco and Cornell University and with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 

The ISAAA says that before Bt eggplant is approved for commercial use, scientists and regulators ensure that it passes through many tests and safety assessments.  In the Philippines, the biosafety of Bt crops is evaluated by a pool of technical scientists in five stages: contained research in laboratories and screen houses; small limited confined field trials; multi-location field trials; food, feed and processing; and commercial propagation. 

Approved for propagation 

In July 2021, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) – a line agency of the Department of Agriculture – approved Bt eggplant for direct use as food, feed and for processing (FFP).  In issuing Biosafety Permit No. 21-078FFP, it is found “to be safe as conventional eggplant” and “can substitute for its traditional counterpart.” 

A year later, on October 18, 2022, the government approved Bt eggplant as the third genetically engineered crop for commercial propagation, following Bt corn and golden rice (now known as Malusog rice).  

Bt eggplant’s approved followed regulatory procedures as detailed in the revised Joint Department Circular, which showed proof of the country’s commitment to science and improvements in biotechnology. 

Vegetable farmers need not to worry when it comes to planting eggplant.  “There are no differences in the production practices (fertilizer application, weeding, irrigation) used in growing of Bt eggplant compared to conventional eggplant except in insecticide application against the borer,” said Dr. Lourdes D. Taylo, study leader of the Bt eggplant project from UPLB. 

Dr. Lourdes D. Taylo, the study leader of the Bt eggplant project from University of the Philippines at Los Banos Henrylito D. Tacio)

Economic and health benefits

A recent study showed that Bt eggplant could bring health cost savings of P9.33 million yearly from its nearly pesticide-free use. Researcher Sergio R. Francisco has estimated savings in a survey of long exposure to pesticide spraying against the highly-infested EFSB in his study, “Health and Environmental Impacts of Bt Eggplant.” 

The study was based on the perception of 100 eggplant farmers from Batangas, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, and Quezon who sprayed their eggplant. These farmers have a long experience in farming – from 9.96 to 18.04 years. 

Another study showed that a Bt eggplant farmer gets P50,330.00 net income for every P100,000.00 gross sales. In comparison, a net income of P16,880.00 is all a farmer gets who plant conventional varieties. 

In a press statement, it was disclosed that the benefit to human health from health cost savings in growing Bt eggplant is equivalent to P2.49 million yearly as risk from illnesses is avoided. For farm animals, the projected benefit per year is at P2.12 million. 

For beneficial insects, the environmental benefit is valued at P2.45 million yearly and for bird species, P2.27 million – as these are saved from death, thereby contributing to biodiversity enhancement.  

Are Bt crops like Bt eggplant safe to eat? The GM Science Review Panel of the United Kingdom has this to say: “For human health, to date there is no evidence currently commercialized GM crop varieties or foods made from them, are toxic, allergenic or nutritionally deleterious.  On balance, we conclude that the risks to human health are very low for GM crops currently on the market.” 

The Geneva-based World Health Organization also assured: “The potential direct health effects of GM foods are generally comparable to the known risks associated with conventional foods, and include, for example, the potential for allergenicity and toxicity of components present, and the nutritional quality and microbiological safety of the food.”

Eggplant salad. One of the most popular ways of preparing eggplant for table. (Henrylito D. Tacio)

Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
Additional photos by SEARCA






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Investors Should Take Note: Robots Are Taking Over Farming


Updated on January 30, 2023

By Jonathan Schramm

In pre-modern time, most of the economic activity was driven by the primary sector: farming, husbandry and other food production. With the industrial revolution, our economies have been increasingly driven by first industry, then services. This made the primary sector, while still responsible for the vital task of food production, increasingly invisible in terms of economics.

A key factor was the mechanization of farming. In poor, under-developed regions like Africa, farming can be the livelihood of a majority of the population and is responsible for as much as 15% of GDP. In countries like the US, farming is less than 1% of GDP.

Mechanization and industrial farming led to several trends, almost all of them detrimental to the environment:

  • Expansion of massive monocultures over thousands of acres, instead of diversified ecosystems with hedges, multiples species, etc…
  • Massive dependence on chemical fertilizers.
  • Intensive use of pesticides and herbicides, leading to ecological damage and water pollution.
  • Degradation of soils fertility from deep plowing, fertilizers, fungicide, and compaction under the weight of increasingly large tractors.
  • Decline in biodiversity of crops, with just a handful of varieties representing often 80%-90% of total production.
  • Lower nutritional value of the food produced.

This is not sustainable. Bees’ population is threatened by “colony Collapse Disorder”, likely triggered by pesticides. And it is not even profitable, putting huge pressure on farmers, who are much more likely than the general population to kill themselvesThe UN FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) warn us that 90% of soil are in danger by 2050. And food production will need to increase by 70% by 2050, despite most soils becoming depleted and sterile.

This could be a pretty grim picture. But we have the solution exist already, and it is beings implemented right now.

Moving to the next step

This is not all negative. Industrial farming has drastically reduced hunger, despite the world population exploding. It also freed up human labor for more productive tasks like sciences and education.

But there are a few things that industrial farming does poorly and seemingly cannot get better at:

  • Weed and pest control without chemicals.
  • Harvesting and picking, especially fruits and delicate berries.
  • Customized care for each small section of the cultivated land.
  • Optimal irrigation that does not waste precious water resources.

The solutions so far have been to either ignore it (chemical treatment) or solve it by exploiting cheap migrant labor (fruit picking). From both an ecological and ethical standpoint, it is not acceptable to keep the same practices in place.

Luckily, robotics is now coming to help make farming more sustainable.

Imagine this future, where fruit picking is done by smart robots that will not break their back and overheat under the scorching sun. Where diesel-powered massive tractors are replaced by a fleet of small autonomous drones on wheels, running on solar power. Where the fields are constantly monitored by flying drones to check. And where pesticides and herbicides are replaced by hot water or a robotic arm.

The good news is that the whole farming industry is being this. Not only small enthusiastic startups but also industrial giants like Bayer. You even have global agricultural robotic forums like recently in December 2021 in France. Progress is made all over the field, but we can categorize them into a few segments.


Advanced.farm is using 6 robotic arms, machine vision, and a suction cup to gently harvest apples without the need for human presence. It can also do it at night, allowing for a 24/7 harvest schedule. It has also designed a strawberry harvester, which is 5x more efficient than a human harvester. So despite a little spooky look when operating at night (see below), it is really safe and efficient.

Fieldworkrobotics have signed a partnership with German machine maker Bosch to develop its soft fruit-picking robots. It is specializing in fragile fruits and veggies like raspberries, cauliflower, and tomatoes, using advanced robotic arms.

Weed & pest management

Ecorobotix has created a robot that combines machine vision with precision spraying to reduce by up to 95% the volume of pesticide and herbicide used. Instead of spraying the whole field, their robots target only the plant that actually needs the chemical. While this does not remove chemicals entirely from farming, this should reduce drastically the total volume and its associated pollution

Naio Technologies aim instead to fully remove herbicide from the field. A lightweight (1.5 ton, so just like a car) autonomous robot drives the field and shreds or uproots the weed with small blades. It uses LIDAR, GPS guidance, and machine vision to drive by itself and distinguish crop from weeds, requiring no supervision.

Some go even further, such as Blue River Technology, a partner of the giant in farming equipment John Deere. It uses machine learning and machine vision to identify every plant in the field. So the robot can get rid of the weed, but also thin out the crop like lettuce, increasing the overall yield without human intervention, “doing the job of 9-10 people”. You can see more in the video below:

See & Spray – Blue River Technology’s precision weed control machine

(the same use of machine vision to thin and weed around the crop is also done by Vision RoboticsEkobot, and Aigro). And it is likely many other startups, either still operating in stealth mode or just getting started.


Osiris Agriculture is a French company that has developed an irrigation robot. By driving itself and identifying the plant needs, it reduces water consumption by 30% and also saves farmers 7 hours of work per hectare in the summer months.


Precision Hawk use drone to monitor crops’ health, using multispectral sensors. These drones are reading not only visible light but also infrared, which gives information if an area needs watering. It also signed a partnership with the world’s largest drone manufacturer, DJI, for an app able to transform any drone into a monitoring drone.

Other application

There is plenty of other possible applications.  For example managing cattle with Beefreeagro, which locates and counts cattle autonomously. It can also detect early signs of disease and monitor if all the fences and gates are how they should be.

Robots can be used also for reforestation efforts. Biocarbon Engineering has used flying drones to plant hundreds of trees in just a few minutes in a test to regrow mangrove forests in Myanmar. This can be especially efficient for hard-to-reach areas like coastlines and mountains.

Because some cultivation like flowers is often done indoors, there are also planting robots for greenhouses like the Roboplant.

Special mentions

Not all fields are in nice flat rows for miles. Many fields are on slopes or have complex configurations, for example vineyards or mixed crops. There is a robot for that too. The Slopehelper is moving on tracks like a tank, and can do almost anything depending on the equipment attached: spraying, mowing, weeding, mulching and even assisting manual pickers to reach the fruits in an orchard or vineyard.

It is likely that multi-role robots will become the norm, mixing together in one machine planting, irrigation, pest control, weeding, picking, etc… Probably through the merging of some of these startups in a few tech leaders or in pre-existing agronomic conglomerate like John Deere and Bayer.

And last but not least, maybe you are not a farmer, but a gardening enthusiast that would like to cultivate some of his food at home. But without the time or physical capacity to do the gardening yourself? Or just want to see farming robots in action by yourself? Then you can look at the open-source Farm.Bot. It will plant, weed, water and fertilize autonomously a surface up to 3mx6m for “just” $3,995.


Robots are just beginning in farming. And they are also here to stay. Labor is still a major component of the price of food production. Robots can help keep food affordable as well as promote better farming practice. We might in a few decade look back at current agriculture practices as destructive and short-sighted, compared to much more advanced robo-farming methods that help preserve biodiversity and reduce pollution.

Robots are likely to replace most tractors over time, and radically modify the way farming is done. This is both a threat and an opportunity for incumbents in the sector. So from an investment standpoint, it would be best to invest only in agri-businesses embracing robo-farming and able to adapt to a change as radical as mechanization was almost a century ago.

Savvy Investors should keep an eye out on the agricultural space, and specifically companies that are applying data analytics and capitalizing on robotics.



What Is CRISPR-Cas12a2? & Why Does It Matter?


Jonathan Schramm

Jonathan is a former biochemist researcher who worked in genetic analysis and clinical trials. He is now a stock analyst and finance writer with a focus on innovation, market cycles and geopolitics in his publication ‘The Eurasian Century“.


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ATHENS, GREECE, 1-5 July, 2024

Members of the local organizing and scientific committee

Kickoff of XX IPPC ATHENS, 1-5 July, 2024

25 November, 2022

Local organizing and scientific committee (LOSC)

In 25 November, 2022, the kickoff meeting of the Local organizing and scientific committee (LOSC) took place at the Agricultural University of Athens (AUA)

Members of the local organizing and scientific committee (LOSC) with  the Chair of XX IPPCAthens2024, Prof. Eris Tjamos, the Vise Rector of AUA I. Chatzipavlidis, the Ex-Vise Rector of AUA Prof. E. Paplomatas and the Member of the Board of the Directors of AUA Prof. D. Tsitsigiannis attended virtually or via a zoom platform the new kick off meeting of the LOSC, which took place at the Agricultural University of Athens. 

The LOSC discussed various organizational matters and exchanged ideas on the scientific programm. The proposals on Plenary and Concurrent Sessions, worked out by several subcommittees during the year, have been already finalized, after taking into account all the proposed suggestions by IAPPS Board members and the members of the Greek organizing and scientific committee.

The proposals were submitted to the IAPPS BOARD for its final evaluation and further instructions.

Prof. Eris Tjamos is in close contact with the General Secretary of IAPPS Prof. Elvis Heinrichs, for continuous consultation and exchange of ideas on various organizational matters of the Congress.

Eris Tjamos,


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Combatting soil-borne pathogens and nematodes vital for food security

   Delhi Bureau  0 Comments CIMMYT  9 min read

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08 November 2022, Mexico: The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) coordinated the VIII International Cereal Nematode Symposium between September 26-29, in collaboration with the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policies and Bolu Abant Izzet Baysal University.

As many as 828 million people struggle with hunger due to food shortages worldwide, while 345 million are facing acute food insecurity – a crisis underpinning discussions at this symposium in Turkey focused on controlling nematodes and soil-borne pathogens causing reduced wheat yields in semi-arid regions.

A major staple, healthy wheat crops are vital for food security because the grain provides about a fifth of calories and proteins in the human diet worldwide.

Seeking resources to feed a rapidly increasing world population is a key part of tackling global hunger, said Mustafa Alisarli, the rector of Turkey’s Bolu Abant Izzet Baysal University in his address to the 150 delegates attending the VIII International Cereal Nematode Symposium in the country’s province of Bolu.

Suat Kaymak, Head of the Plant Protection Department, on behalf of the director general of the General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policies (GDAR), delivered an opening speech, emphasizing the urgent need to support the CIMMYT Soil-borne Pathogens (SBP) research. He stated that the SBP plays a crucial role in reducing the negative impact of nematodes and pathogens on wheat yield and ultimately improves food security. Therefore, the GDAR is supporting the SBP program by building a central soil-borne pathogens headquarters and a genebank in Ankara.

Discussions during the five-day conference were focused on strategies to improve resilience to the Cereal Cyst Nematodes (Heterodera spp.) and Root Lesion Nematodes (Pratylenchus spp.), which cause root-health degradation, and reduce moisture uptake needed for proper development of wheat.

Richard Smiley, a professor emeritus at Oregon State University, summarized his research on nematode diseases. He has studied nematodes and pathogenic fungi that invade wheat and barley roots in the Pacific Northwest of the United States for 40 years. “The grain yield gap – actual versus potential yield – in semiarid rainfed agriculture cannot be significantly reduced until water and nutrient uptake constraints caused by nematodes and Fusarium crown rot are overcome,” he said.

Experts also assessed patterns of global distribution, exchanging ideas on ways to boost international collaboration on research to curtail economic losses related to nematode and pathogen infestations.

A special session on soil-borne plant pathogenic fungi drew attention to the broad spectrum of diseases causing root rot, stem rot, crown rot and vascular wilts of wheat.

Soil-borne fungal and nematode parasites co-exist in the same ecological niche in cereal-crop field ecosystems, simultaneously attacking root systems and plant crowns thereby reducing the uptake of nutrients, especially under conditions of soil moisture stress.

Limited genetic and chemical control options exist to curtail the damage and spread of these soil-borne problems which is a challenge exacerbated by both synergistic and antagonistic interactions between nematodes and fungi.

Nematodes, by direct alteration of plant cells and consequent biochemical changes, can predispose wheat to invasion by soil borne pathogens. Some root rotting fungi can increase damage due to nematode parasites.

Integrated managementFor a holistic approach to addressing the challenge, the entire biotic community in the soil must be considered, said Hans Braun, former director of the Global Wheat Program at CIMMYT.

Braun presented efficient cereal breeding as a method for better soil-borne pathogen management. His insights highlighted the complexity of root-health problems across the region, throughout Central Asia, West Asia and North Africa (CWANA).

Richard A. Sikora, Professor emeritus and former Chairman of the Institute of Plant Protection at the University of Bonn, stated that the broad spectrum of nematode and pathogen species causing root-health problems in CWANA requires site-specific approaches for effective crop health management. Sikora added that no single technology will solve the complex root-health problems affecting wheat in the semi-arid regions. To solve all nematode and pathogen problems, all components of integrated management will be needed to improve wheat yields in the climate stressed semi-arid regions of CWANA.

Building on this theme, Timothy Paulitz, research plant pathologist at the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), presented on the relationship between soil biodiversity and wheat health and attempts to identify the bacterial and fungal drivers of wheat yield loss. Paulitz, who has researched soil-borne pathogens of wheat for more than 20 years stated that, “We need to understand how the complex soil biotic ecosystem impacts pathogens, nutrient uptake and efficiency and tolerance to abiotic stresses.”

Julie Nicol, former soil-borne pathologist at CIMMYT, who now coordinates the Germplasm Exchange (CAIGE) project between CIMMYT and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) at the University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute, pointed out the power of collaboration and interdisciplinary expertise in both breeding and plant pathology. The CAIGE project clearly demonstrates how valuable sources of multiple soil-borne pathogen resistance in high-yielding adapted wheat backgrounds have been identified by the CIMMYT Turkey program, she said. Validated by Australian pathologists, related information is stored in a database and is available for use by Australian and international breeding communities.

Economic losses

Root-rotting fungi and cereal nematodes are particularly problematic in rainfed systems where post-anthesis drought stress is common. Other disruptive diseases in the same family include dryland crown and the foot rot complex, which are caused mainly by the pathogens Fusarium culmorum and F. pseudograminearum.

The root lesion nematode Pratylenchus thornei can cause yield losses in wheat from 38 to 85 percent in Australia and from 12 to 37 percent in Mexico. In southern Australia, grain losses caused by Pratylenchus neglectus ranged from 16 to 23 percent and from 56 to 74 percent in some areas.

The cereal cyst nematodes (Heterodera spp.) with serious economic consequences for wheat include Heterodera avenae, H. filipjevi and H. latipons. Yield losses due to H. avenae range from 15 to 20 percent in Pakistan, 40 to 92 percent in Saudi Arabia, and 23 to 50 percent in Australia.

In Turkey, Heterodera filipjevi has caused up to 50 percent crop losses in the Central Anatolia Plateau and Heterodera avenae has caused up to 24 percent crop losses in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The genus Fusarium which includes more than a hundred species, is a globally recognized plant pathogenic fungal complex that causes significant damage to wheat on a global scale.

In wheat, Fusarium spp. cause crown-, foot-, and root- rot as well as head blight. Yield losses from Fusarium crown-rot have been as high as 35 percent in the Pacific Northwest of America and 25 to 58 percent in Australia, adding up losses annually of $13 million and $400 million respectively, due to reduced grain yield and quality. The true extent of damage in CWANA needs to be determined.

Abdelfattah Dababat, CIMMYT’s Turkey representative and leader of the soil-borne pathogens research team said, “There are examples internationally, where plant pathologists, plant breeders and agronomists have worked collaboratively and successfully developed control strategies to limit the impact of soil borne pathogens on wheat.” He mentioned the example of the development and widespread deployment of cereal cyst nematode resistant cereals in Australia that has led to innovative approaches and long-term control of this devastating pathogen.

Dababat, who coordinated the symposium for CIMMYT, explained that, “Through this symposium, scientists had the opportunity to present their research results and to develop collaborations to facilitate the development of on-farm strategies for control of these intractable soil borne pathogens in their countries.”

Paulitz stated further that soil-borne diseases have world-wide impacts even in higher input wheat systems of the United States. “The germplasm provided by CIMMYT and other international collaborators is critical for breeding programs in the Pacific Northwest, as these diseases cannot be managed by chemical or cultural techniques,” he added.

Road ahead

Delegates gained a greater understanding of the scale of distribution of cereal cyst nematodes and soil borne pathogens in wheat production systems throughout West Asia, North Africa, parts of Central Asia, Northern India, and China.

After more than 20 years of study, researchers have recognized the benefits of planting wheat varieties that are more resistant. This means placing major emphasis on host resistance through validation and integration of resistant sources using traditional and molecular methods by incorporating them into wheat germplasm for global wheat production systems, particularly those dependent on rainfed or supplementary irrigation systems.

Sikora stated that more has to be done to improve Integrated Pest Management (IPM), taking into consideration all tools wherever resistant is not available. Crop rotations for example have shown some promise in helping to mitigate the spread and impact of these diseases.

“In order to develop new disease-resistant products featuring resilience to changing environmental stress factors and higher nutritional values, modern biotechnology interventions have also been explored,” Alisarli said.

Brigitte Slaats and Matthias Gaberthueel, who represent Swiss agrichemicals and seeds group Syngenta, introduced TYMIRIUM® technology, a new solution for nematode and crown rot management in cereals. “Syngenta is committed to developing novel seed-applied solutions to effectively control early soil borne diseases and pests,” Slaats said.

It was widely recognized at the event that providing training for scientists from the Global North and South is critical. Turkey, Austria, China, Morocco, and India have all hosted workshops, which were effective in identifying the global status of the problem of cereal nematodes and forming networks and partnerships to continue working on these challenges.

Also Read: Agriculture and the agricultural economy is the strength of India: Union Agriculture Minister

(For Latest Agriculture News & Updates, follow Krishak Jagat on Google News)

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Saturday, 19 November 2022 15:31:49

Grahame Jackson posted a new submission ‘Effect of marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) on soil microbial communities in continuously cropped tobacco fields’


Effect of marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) on soil microbial communities in continuously cropped tobacco fields

Nature Scientific Reports

Scientific Reports volume 12, Article number: 19632 (2022) Cite this article


Root-knot nematode disease is a catastrophic soil-borne disease in tobacco production. The regulation of natural microbial communities is considered a good disease management approach to suppress the incidence of soilborne diseases. In this study, the effects of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.)-marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) rotation on the diversity and structure of soil microbial communities in continuously cropped tobacco fields were analyzed to manage this devastating pathogen. The results showed that the soil bacterial OTUs increased after marigold rotation and that the bacterial Shannon, ACE, Chao1 index, and fungal Shannon index were higher in the tobacco-marigold rotation fields than in the continuously cropped tobacco fields by 3.98%, 10.37%, 5.46%, and 3.43%, respectively. After marigold rotation, the relative abundances of Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria, and Ascomycota increased by 28.62%, 107.50%, and 57.44%, respectively, and the proportion of beneficial bacterial genera such as NocardioidesGemmatimonas, and Bradyrhizobium increased. In addition, our results also showed that rotation of marigold could effectively reduce the incidence of root-knot nematodes in the next crop of tobacco. These results indicate that marigold rotation had a positive effect on the soil microecological environment of continuously cropped tobacco fields, reducing the obstacles to continuous cropping of tobacco.

Read on: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-23517-x

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Florida researchers get funding to help tomato growers and breeders fight bacterial spot

“It’s really hard to manage this disease”

Florida scientists received a grant to investigate strategies to control bacterial spot in tomatoes. The disease creates major challenges for commercial production throughout Florida and across the United States.

Bacterial spot first affects the leaves of the plant, developing black spots the size of shotgun pellets. Then the leaves blacken and ultimately drop. The fruit is still edible but can develop little blisters, making them practically unmarketable.

The plant pathogen that causes bacterial spot in the southeast is called Xanthomonas euvesicatoria pv. perforans. The “pv.” abbreviation stands for “pathovar” and is used to designate a specialized group of bacteria with the same or similar characteristics within a species.

Courtesy UF/IFAS

Gary Vallad, professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Florida’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, said the pathogen has been problematic for the tomato industry since the early 1990s because it has developed a tolerance to copper-based pesticides, typically used for managing bacterial diseases.

“This pretty much limited the usefulness of copper, and without using other types of antibiotics, which we don’t use in the field, it’s really hard to manage this disease,” he said.

Hard to peel, hard to process
Other variations of the bacteria can also cause really large lesions, “which makes the tomato hard to peel mechanically, so processors don’t like that either, so that becomes a loss for them as well,” Vallad said.

That means the tomatoes can’t be canned or used for products like ketchup. There’s much that is unknown about the pathogen, Vallad said.

“A lot of that has been limited by our ability to differentiate strains of the bacterium. So, there’s been a lot of recent advances in our tools to be able to discriminate between different species based on sequencing of the pathogen’s genome,” he said.

“We can’t just look at the bacteria and say, ‘this is Bacteria A, and this is Bacteria B.’ This is what we kind of refer to as almost like cryptic species … they all look the same, so we have to actually … use molecular tools to really be able to differentiate between different strains.”

Vallad said he’s now interested in breeding a tomato with more resistance to the bacteria.

“We need to have a better understanding of the composition of that population, so breeders can actually identify resistance within a tomato that will actually cover all the strains or most of the strains,” he said. They also want to trace the movement of the strains throughout tomato production.

“We know different areas we can always find the bacteria, but we don’t know if the bacteria is exactly the same at every point,” Vallad said. “So, we’re trying to understand, to really look at the movement of the of these strains throughout the production system so we can find where in the production system is the best place to manage them.”

Xanthomonas euvesicatoria pv. perforans is also prominent bacterial species threatening tomatoes in the Midwest, Great Lakes, Northeast, and in neighboring areas of Canada, along with Xanthomonas hortorum pv. gardneri.

Thanks to $5.8 million from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Vallad and his team of scientists across Florida and the U.S. will spend the next four years identifying and understanding the different strains of the pathogen to help tomato growers and breeders manage the bacterial spot disease more successfully.

“These types of advancements are not just in this particular disease. It’s really impacting a number of plant diseases, animal diseases and human diseases,” Vallad said. “The exact same technology that was used to understand the COVID virus, we’re using to understand this particular pathogen on tomato.

“And this group of pathogens impact a number of other crops, not just tomato … Other Xanthomonas affect almost every crop we grow in the world. There is a Xanthomonas that can cause disease on it. So, understanding this group of organisms, tomato can be used as a model for other researchers for other crops as well.”

For more information:

Publication date: Fri 4 Nov 2022

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With Xsect Xtra, Inveragro eliminates pepper pests

Inveragro, located in the valley of San Felipe, Guanajuato, and known for its tradition of producing and drying chili peppers, was having problems with pest control and humidity levels inside the greenhouse. With Xsect Xtra, they were able to reduce the entry of thrips by 50% while increasing their humidity by 15%, resulting in an ideal climate that promotes pepper growth.

Inveragro is a 10-hectare pepper greenhouse that started operations three years ago in the valley of San Felipe, Guanajuato, an area with different challenges for pepper growers due to its semi-arid climate and the presence of insects and pests such as whitefly, thrips, and weevils.

Germán Sandoval Barba, grower at Inveragro, was looking for a climate solution that would help him face these challenges. A year ago, he decided to try Xsect Xtra.

Ideal humid climate = healthier peppers
The pepper is a tropical crop that likes high humidity levels. Ideally the humidity inside a pepper greenhouse should be between 60% and 80%.

During the summer months, humidity inside Inveragro was between 45% and 50%, and it was necessary to keep the windows closed as a way to conserve humidity inside the greenhouse.

“Before installing Svensson’s insect control nets, I was worried that the temperature would rise too much and that it would affect the humidity. Once we tested the nets, the truth is that it was a very positive surprise the results that we had in terms of temperature and humidity”, says Germán Sandoval

Unlike last year when the windows were practically closed, now with Xsect Xtra, the windows are open between 20% and 30%, having a maximum temperature between 32 and 33 degrees. In addition, with Xsect Xtra, the humidity inside the greenhouse increased between 10% and 15%, compared to last year, achieving an ideal humidity between 60% and 75%, which benefits the growth of peppers.

“I thought that I was going to experience disadvantages with this insect control net because, for me, it was more important to sacrifice climate in order to reduce the entry of pests and insects. But to my surprise, I now have a better climate and fewer insects inside the greenhouse,” said Germán Sandoval.

Greenhouses with 50% fewer thrips
One of the biggest challenges for Germán is the entry of pests, and one way to control this problem is through hermeticity. Inveragro has four full-time employees dedicated exclusively to supervising any failure in the hermeticity of the greenhouses. “When I started looking for options to improve our hermeticity, I discovered the Svensson insect control nets, which would help us to improve our conditions,” says Germán Sandoval.

Before installing Xsect Xtra, during the fifth week of the production cycle, thrips were already seen inside the greenhouse, and it was necessary to apply pesticides and/or agrochemicals prior to the release of the biological control. “Now I can release the biological control we use Orius to control thrips, without pesticides and/or agrochemicals applications that could damage the biological control program,” says Germán, “since the installation of Xsect Xtra, 50% fewer thrips have entered the greenhouse”.

Powdery mildew was another climate problem at Inveragro, and it was necessary to apply agrochemicals at least once a week. During the first year with Svensson’s insect control net, Germán continued with the same program, but no powdery mildew was found inside the greenhouse.

“I’ve already modified my program for this year. I’m only going to apply preventive products every 15 days, which reduces by 50% the cost of powdery mildew throughout the year because now I have better climate conditions in terms of humidity, which is more controllable and promotes pepper growth”.

Germán has also noticed improvements in the beneficial program used to control thrips. He used to have 4 Orius per square meter, and this year he only has three orius per square meter, which means savings in this year’s beneficials budget.

“What Xsect Xtra has given me is improved humidity, fewer pests, and reduced phytosanitary diseases.”
Finally, Germán shared the following advice for all pepper growers: “I would tell growers who are afraid to try these nets not to be afraid. In the beginning, I hesitated, but it is something that will help them. What it can generate in the climate is minimal and what it can help them in the phytosanitary issue is very broad. The net pays for itself”.

For more information:
Ludvig Svensson

info@ludvigsvensson.com www.ludvigsvensson.com    

Publication date: Mon 14 Nov 2022

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