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Archive for the ‘Emerging/invasive pests’ Category

New Threat to Oilseed Rape Emerges in UK

By European Seed

-December 17, 2021 Facebook Twitter Linkedin Email Print

A variety of the fungus that causes the disease Phoma on oilseed rape and other brassicas has been discovered in Europe for the first time, at sites in Southern England and Northern Ireland.

The Plenodomus biglobosus ‘canadensis’ variant was discovered last spring on wasabi plants, marking the first time the disease has been found on the vegetable.

Another variant of the fungus, P. biglobosus ‘brassicae’ was also discovered infecting wasabi at a third site in the West Midlands.

DNA analysis of cultures taken from the infected plants confirmed the identification, said Rothamsted plant pathologist, Dr Kevin King.

“Greenhouse testing then showed that both variants could cause disease not just on wasabi, but also oilseed rape, cabbage and pak choi.

“To date, ‘canadensis’ has been reported from brassica species in Australia, Canada, China, Mexico and the USA. However, the present study extends the known geographic range of it, which now includes Europe, having been found in the UK at two geographically distinct sites.

“Moreover, this study also represents, new discoveries for both ‘brassicae’ and ‘canadensis’ as causal agents of Phoma disease on wasabi plants, which previously was thought to be infected only by other variants in Canada, New Zealand and Taiwan.”

In recent years, there is evidence that P. biglobosus has become an increasingly problematic pathogen of UK oilseed rape crops.

Previously, only ‘brassicae’ has been reported on European OSR, and Dr King believes further work is needed to check whether this increase is as a result of the new ‘canadensis’ variant or down to recent varieties being more susceptible generally.

“Additional monitoring surveys are now required to understand the geographic distribution of the P. biglobosus variants present in current pathogen populations, both on wild and cultivated brassicas from throughout the British Isles and continental Europe.”

Source: Rothamsted Research

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12th December

It’s all about sex – trial success for BigSis’ chemical-free SWD control

By Ken FletcherEditor

ARABLE

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British farmers are a step closer to using a technology that could slash the need for agricultural insecticides, after a world-first field trial achieved a 91% reduction in an invasive target pest first spotted in the UK in 2012 – and it was all about sex!

Agritech start-up, BigSis, conducted the trial – using an updated version of the sterile insect technique (SIT) – in partnership with Berry Gardens, the UK’s largest supplier of berries and cherries, and the world-renowned research institute NIAB EMR.https://805d3ecb54b83605a7f1a43a2a08ce69.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“SIT has long been recognised as the perfect solution for insect pest control,” pointed out BigSis founder, Glen Slade. “But in the 60 years since it was conceived, it’s always been too expensive to deploy beyond a limited number of special-use cases.”

The basic premise is simple – sterilise and release male insects into the crop, where they mate with wild females to prevent the rapid increase in pest populations that leads to crop damage. Species specific, non-toxic and resistance-immune, the approach is technically capable of taking the place of chemical insecticides in many agricultural crops.

“BigSis has turned to artificial intelligence and robotics to automate SIT, raising insects individually,” explained Mr Slade. “It’s a breakthrough that slashes the cost of SIT solutions by as much as 90%, so we’re finally bringing it to growers as an affordable, farm-scale solution for insect pest control in agricultural crops.”

Conducted in Kent, the field trial focused on control of spotted-wing drosophila (SWD), a global invasive pest of soft fruit that can cause much damage, with farmers spending up to £11,000 per ha using currently approved chemical treatments and labour-intensive hygiene measures in a bid to control the pest.

Sterile male SWDs were released in and around a crop of ever-bearing strawberries between April and the end of harvest. Using sticky traps with lures, numbers of wild female SWD were monitored at the treated site and two control sites. During the trial, numbers of female SWD in the treated plot barely rose above one per trap per week, compared to a peak of nearly 10 insects per in untreated controls.

“We’re thrilled that this world-first trial of SIT to control SWD had given such a convincing demonstration of season-long control, with a suppression result of up to 91%,” said Mr Slade. “It ensured that pest numbers never reach a critical level, confirming the premise that prevention is better than cure.”

He added that it gave the business and its two partners a solid foundation to move into 2022 with a larger field trial programme, supported by a £500,000 grant from Innovate UK, which will bring cherries and raspberries into the mix.

Richard Harnden, director of research at Berry Gardens, added: “It’s been nearly a decade since SWD arrived in the UK and the BigSis solution might finally provide the breakthrough in chemical-free control that the industry has been seeking.

Read more: Bayer poll points to better OSR establishment across the UK

“We look forward to success in next season’s field trials, with a view to widespread adoption of the solution by our growers.”

Head of pest and pathogen ecology at NIAB EMR, Dr Michelle Fountain, was also impressed: “These data provided new insights into SWD dispersal and behaviour in commercial crops. We are very encouraged by this control technology for SWD, with its added benefit of preserving current biological controls for other soft fruit pests by reducing plant protection inputs.

“I envisage further learning and positive results from the grant-funded studies and trials planned for the next 16 months.”

Recent completion of a £1.5m seed-plus funding round will allow BigSis to construct a pilot production line for sterile male SWD at its new Reading facility, holding out the possibility of commercial sales next year. It is already approved for sale in England.

Mr Slade added: “We are ideally placed to address the ‘perfect storm’ facing agriculture – regulatory pressure on agrochemicals, consumer demand for ‘greener’ food, increased pest pressure as the climate warms, and the increasing problems of insects’ resistance to chemical controls.

“SWD is our first market-ready solution before we move on to commercialising of our next SIT solution, for codling moth, with others to follow.”

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HLB can infect an entire tree weeks before symptoms become apparent

Brazilian scientists have been able to measure the speed of a bacterium that causes the incurable citrus greening disease (Huanglongbing). HLB is the most devastating citrus disease in the world. Afflicted trees grow yellow leaves and low-quality fruit and eventually stop producing altogether.

Silvio A. Lopes, a plant pathologist based at Fundecitrus, research institution maintained by citrus growers of the State of Sao Paulo in Brazil: “We found that CLas can move at average speed of 2.9 to 3.8 cm per day. At these speeds a tree that is 3 meters in height will be fully colonized by CLas in around 80 to 100 days, and this is faster than the symptoms appear, which generally takes at least 4 months.”

Lopes and colleagues also studied the impact of temperature on the speed of colonization. They already knew that CLas does not multiply well in hot or cold environments, but now they have more specific data.

“We estimated that 25.7°C (78°F) was the best condition for CLas to move from one side to the other side of the tree,” said Lopes. This is the first time impact of temperature on plant colonization of CLas has been experimentally demonstrated. “The grower can use this information to select areas less risky for planting citrus trees.”

Source: eurekalert.org

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LSU awarded $5 million to look into invasive species harmful to sweet potatoes

A team of LSU AgCenter researchers, collaborating with scientists from four other universities, have been awarded a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant of more than $5 million, aiding them in developing sweet potato varieties resistant to the invasive guava root-knot nematode.

The AgCenter team is spearheaded by nematologist Tristan Watson. It has also received a sub-grant for $990,000 to support research on sweet potato breeding and characterization of resistance mechanisms and associated genes as well as extension of research findings to regional and national stakeholders.

Watson: “Root-knot nematodes are particularly damaging to the sweet potato. The overall goal of this project is to provide Louisiana sweet potato growers effective tools for the management of established and emerging root-knot nematode species.”

Source: lsuagcenter.com

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ENTOMOLOGY TODAYLEAVE A COMMENT

Reports in Canada and Minnesota have documented 

Leaf-Mining Moth May Be New Pest of Soybean

ENTOMOLOGY TODAYLEAVE A COMMENT

Reports in Canada and Minnesota have documented Macrosaccus morrisella, a native leaf-mining moth species (adult shown here), infesting soybean. While the potential threat the species poses to soybean crops remains to be seen, a new guide in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management profiles the species and alerts growers on what to watch for. (Photo by Joseph Moisan-De Serres)

By Arthur Vieira Ribeiro, Ph.D., and Robert L. Koch, Ph.D.

Robert L. Koch, Ph.D.

Arthur Vieira Ribeiro, Ph.D.

Soybean is an important crop used as food and feed worldwide, and the United States is one of the major producers. A plethora of herbivores, including native and invasive species, colonize and feed on soybean plants. Among this herbivorous community, some species are considered more menacing because they can cause economic damage when in high numbers. As if this community was not large enough already, a native leaf-mining insect, Macrosaccus morrisella, appears to have joined in, expanding its range of host plants to now include soybean, as well.

In a paper published in November in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management—in collaboration with Joseph Moisan-De Serres from the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food—we provide first reports of this insect feeding on soybean in Canada and the United States. In Québec, Canada, leaf mines were observed over several years and, more recently, also in soybean fields in Minnesota, United States. Heavy infestations with more than 10 mines per leaflet were observed in Québec, while only light infestations with scattered plants showing symptoms were seen in Minnesota.

Macrosaccus morrisella larva on soybean leaf
Macrosaccus morrisella soybean damage

Several small beetles are known to mine the leaves of soybean in North America, but M. morrisella is actually a tiny moth (larvae: 4.7 millimeters long; adults: 6-7 millimeters). Macrosaccus morrisella is known to feed on plants of the Fabaceae family, including American hog peanut. Soybean is a member of this same plant family. Macrosaccus morrisella larvae feed inside the soybean leaves, and the injury—white-colored, blotch-type leaf mines—can be easily detected on the lower surface of the leaves.

The actual damage this new herbivore can cause to soybean production and extent of infestations in soybean fields in North America are still unknown. Next steps should focus on assessing its potential impacts to soybean, geographic extent of infestations of soybean fields, and ecology in agroecosystems. Such information and knowledge on other leaf miners in soybean will help the development of management practices, in case infestations of this new herbivore in soybean increase.

Read More

First Reports of Macrosaccus morrisella (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae) Feeding on Soybean, Glycine max (Fabales: Fabaceae)

Journal of Integrated Pest Management

Arthur Vieira Ribeiro, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral associate and Robert L. Koch, Ph.D., is an associate professor and extension entomologist both at the University of Minnesota Department of Entomology. Email: vieir054@umn.edukoch0125@umn.edu.

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Stink Bugs: New IPM Guide for Midwestern Corn, Soybean Growers

May 4, 2017

Learnings From Latin America: Potential Risk of Helicoverpa armigera to U.S. Soybean Production

February 1, 2021

From Mapping to Management: A Revision of Soybean Caterpillar Pest Information for U.S. Soybean

November 10, 2021 Research News

s morrisella, a native leaf-mining moth species (adult shown here), infesting soybean. While the potential threat the species poses to soybean crops remains to be seen, a new guide in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management profiles the species and alerts growers on what to watch for. (Photo by Joseph Moisan-De Serres)

By Arthur Vieira Ribeiro, Ph.D., and Robert L. Koch, Ph.D.

Robert L. Koch, Ph.D.

Arthur Vieira Ribeiro, Ph.D.

Soybean is an important crop used as food and feed worldwide, and the United States is one of the major producers. A plethora of herbivores, including native and invasive species, colonize and feed on soybean plants. Among this herbivorous community, some species are considered more menacing because they can cause economic damage when in high numbers. As if this community was not large enough already, a native leaf-mining insect, Macrosaccus morrisella, appears to have joined in, expanding its range of host plants to now include soybean, as well.

In a paper published in November in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management—in collaboration with Joseph Moisan-De Serres from the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food—we provide first reports of this insect feeding on soybean in Canada and the United States. In Québec, Canada, leaf mines were observed over several years and, more recently, also in soybean fields in Minnesota, United States. Heavy infestations with more than 10 mines per leaflet were observed in Québec, while only light infestations with scattered plants showing symptoms were seen in Minnesota.

Macrosaccus morrisella larva on soybean leaf
Macrosaccus morrisella soybean damage

Several small beetles are known to mine the leaves of soybean in North America, but M. morrisella is actually a tiny moth (larvae: 4.7 millimeters long; adults: 6-7 millimeters). Macrosaccus morrisella is known to feed on plants of the Fabaceae family, including American hog peanut. Soybean is a member of this same plant family. Macrosaccus morrisella larvae feed inside the soybean leaves, and the injury—white-colored, blotch-type leaf mines—can be easily detected on the lower surface of the leaves.

The actual damage this new herbivore can cause to soybean production and extent of infestations in soybean fields in North America are still unknown. Next steps should focus on assessing its potential impacts to soybean, geographic extent of infestations of soybean fields, and ecology in agroecosystems. Such information and knowledge on other leaf miners in soybean will help the development of management practices, in case infestations of this new herbivore in soybean increase.

Read More

First Reports of Macrosaccus morrisella (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae) Feeding on Soybean, Glycine max (Fabales: Fabaceae)

Journal of Integrated Pest Management

Arthur Vieira Ribeiro, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral associate and Robert L. Koch, Ph.D., is an associate professor and extension entomologist both at the University of Minnesota Department of Entomology. Email: vieir054@umn.edukoch0125@umn.edu.

SHARE THIS:

Stink Bugs: New IPM Guide for Midwestern Corn, Soybean Growers

May 4, 2017

Learnings From Latin America: Potential Risk of Helicoverpa armigera to U.S. Soybean Production

February 1, 2021

From Mapping to Management: A Revision of Soybean Caterpillar Pest Information for U.S. Soybean

November 10, 2021 Research News

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Cross-Border Technology Transfer: Biological Control of the Fall Armyworm in Asia and Africa

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Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Jul 15, 2019

Fall Armyworm
The fall armyworm’s entry into Africa in 2016, and its more recent entry into Asia, has farmers unnerved with its resilience to most control methods.

This post was written by Sara Hendery.

The fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is becoming a household name around the world, but not for good reasons – the pest, native to the tropical and subtropical Americas, devours over 300 plant species, including maize, which feeds millions of people every day. In Africa alone, the fall armyworm has already caused nearly $13.3 billion in crop losses in just three years. Resilient to most pesticides and harsh climates, the pest has shown no signs of yielding since its arrival in Nigeria in 2016.

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management (IPM Innovation Lab) projects that a chemical-free solution is key to long-term management of the fall armyworm. In Niger in July, the team will help support a training focused on biological control of the invasive pest hosted by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), University of Maradi in Niger, and the National Institute for Research on Food and Nutrition (INRAN). The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals, and the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) Sorghum and Millet Compact are also supporters of the training.

The IPM Innovation Lab will be sending participants from Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, and Bangladesh to attend the training in Niger in an effort to catalyze cross-continental knowledge and information exchange. Also in attendance will be participants from Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroun, Sudan and Niger.

“Maize is a staple crop in both Africa and Asia,” said Muni Muniappan, Director of the IPM Innovation Lab. “Biological control offers an economically and environmentally friendly approach to combatting the fall armyworm and the technology is easily transferrable to more than one country and continent. It’s important that in already fragile economic situations, we introduce options that are truly viable.”

In 2018, in collaboration with ICRISAT and the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), the IPM Innovation Lab helped find two natural enemies of the fall armyworm, Telenomus and Trichogramma, which attack the eggs of the pest. Telenomus and Trichogramma populations are low early in the season, hence, mass production and timely release of the natural enemies will suppress the pest throughout the cropping season.

The training will cover status and identification of the fall armyworm, mass production of both Telenomus and Trichogramma, best laboratory practices, scouting for egg and larval natural enemies in the field, and field release. Also covered will be case studies of successful biological control, especially the case of using natural enemies against the pearl millet head miner in the Sahel and the case of using classical biological control against the papaya mealybug.  

Due to the fall armyworm’s unique ability to burrow inside the whorl of plants, conventional pesticides, which are already costly, are not practical options. The pest moves quickly – two or three generations of the pest can feed off a single crop during a growing season before moving on, and a female can lay 1,000 eggs during her lifetime. Smallholder farmers, many of whom live and work on less than an acre of land, are especially vulnerable to the pest’s attack.

“By the end of the training we expect participants to master how to scout for fall armyworm parasitoids and how to mass rear and release Telenomus and Trichogramma,” said Malick Ba, principal scientist at ICRISAT. “They should be able to establish cultures of natural enemies back home for use in their own biological control programs.”  

The same natural enemies of the fall armyworm occur in both Asia and Africa. A major component of the Niger training will be preparing and guiding participants on how to garner support for scaling up biological control programs in their respective countries.

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Kenyan Farmers Find Hope in Fighting Fall Armyworm

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Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Jun 08, 2021

a group of people stand in a field, their faces covered with masks. They are listening to a man who is giving them instruction in biocontrol.
Biocontrol instruction in Kenya.

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

In Kenya, farmers have observed a loss of at least half of their maize yields due to the fall armyworm. In Africa alone, the pest has caused an estimated $10 billion in damage. While the pest prefers maize, it attacks hundreds of plant species, significantly impacting food security across the region and beyond.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University’s Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab (IPM IL) and the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) initiated biocontrol, or the release of natural enemies, to combat fall armyworm in East Africa. Specifically in Kenya’s Embu and Kirinyaga counties, the teams released the parasitic wasp Telenomus remus in farmer demonstration plots. T. remus naturally occurs in Kenya, and after mass production in the lab, can be released to attack the eggs of fall armyworm with parasitism ranging from 78-100%.

Kenyan farmers observed improved farming conditions after release of the natural enemies, including significantly increased maize yields and reduced labor time in the field.

“After the release of the parasitoids, there was drastic reduction of fall armyworm infestation,” remarked one of the farmers. “They reduced leaf damage and [we] did not observe any dead heart in the field where parasitoids were released. It saved labor and time to do other things in the farm because we had stopped spraying [pesticides].”

After the initial release of T. remus, maize yields in the Kenyan farmers’ fields generally increased from two bags to five bags per quarter acre. Farmers noted that this increase was significant given the fall armyworm’s dramatic impact over the last several years, including decreased quality and quantity of maize, increased production costs and increased fodder expenses for livestock (due to limited dependence on maize).

Before implementing biocontrol, Kenyan farmers remarked that they were lucky if they could harvest any maize at all, but even if they could, the grains didn’t always acquire good prices at the market.  

“Due to fall armyworm infestation, we started experiencing food insecurity and struggling to pay school fees for our children, which is very unusual for the area,” said one of the farmers, detailing the impact of the pest. “We started spending more money in trying to control the insect pest using chemicals and in return got very little, if any yield.”

Since the pest is most destructive in its larval stage, reducing populations as much as possible at the egg stage is vital. While many solutions to combat the pest exist — including genetically modified crops, chemical pesticides and mechanical control — fall armyworm adapts to new conditions rapidly and thrives in harsh conditions. Having established itself in most of Africa, as well as many areas of Asia, the fall armyworm has also been reported in Australia and other parts of Oceania. More than 70 countries have been impacted by its spread.  

In addition to Kenya, ICIPE and IPM IL have trained researchers on biocontrol of fall armyworm in Ethiopia, Tanzania and a range of other countries in Africa and Asia, with hopes of initiating biocontrol “satellite” sites throughout both continents.  

“Farmer demand to control fall armyworm is a high priority,” said Tadele Tefera, country head of ICIPE in Ethiopia. “The release of biocontrol agents initiated by IPM IL and ICIPE should and can be fast-tracked and expanded to reach several maize-growing communities; any delay could lead to substantial yield loss that could affect farmer livelihoods.”

“Augmentative biological control,” Tefera added, “where natural enemies are periodically introduced to control the fall armyworm, is an effective, environmentally-friendly approach. After witnessing the effectiveness of natural enemies on their own farms, farmers are motivated to use this form of biological control to reduce environmental impacts of pesticides.”

For more information on biocontrol of fall armyworm, contact Sara Hendery at saraeh91@vt.edu. 

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Graduate Students in Nepal Uncover the Impacts of Climate Change and Invasive Species Spread

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Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Jul 27, 2021

Anju Sharma Paudel
Anju Sharma Paudel

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

Virginia Tech’s Feed the Future IPM Innovation Lab is celebrating the work of 27 students funded by one of its projects. 

The IPM Innovation Lab collaborates with Tribhuvan University and the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute to assess the spread of invasive weeds over the last 30 years — based on elevation and under different climate scenarios — in central Nepal. The project has found that as climate change events continue to occur, invasive weeds are spreading faster and higher than ever before. 

Over the course of this six-year project, many research findings have been uncovered by graduate students supported by the project’s funding. Post-graduation, those students are now working at high levels within the Nepal government, universities and the private sector. They have also participated in more than 45 international and national conference presentations and published more than three dozen research papers in national and international scientific journals, with more being developed.

“Student research, with the guidance of experts and advisors, has been at the helm of some of the most exciting research to come out of this project,” said Pramod Jha, professor emeritus at Tribhuvan University and the project lead. “Some have uncovered, for example, incredibly valuable biocontrol options for some of Nepal’s most pressing invasive weed issues as well as assessed the shrinking land availability of critical food crops communities depend on. These students are just at the beginning of recognizing the long-term impacts of climate change and this initial research will propel them into future careers where they can actually see their work come to life.”

Take, for example, soon-to-be graduate Seerjana Maharjan. Maharjan is earning her Ph.D. from Tribhuvan University, researching the ecology and management of the invasive weed Parthenium hysterophorus, which causes human, animal and environmental health issues. Her research considers the possibility of winter rust as a biocontrol agent of parthenium and projects the increased suitable habitat of parthenium under future climate scenarios. Post-graduation, Maharjan will serve as a scientific officer in Nepal’s Department of Plant Resources, Ministry of Forests and Environment

Dol Raj Luitel also works as a senior scientific officer in Nepal’s Department of Plant Resources, Ministry of Forests and Environment. Earning his Ph.D. at Tribhuvan University, Luitel’s research explores the impact of climate change on distribution, production and cropping patterns of finger millet and buckwheat along altitudinal gradients in Nepal. His research assesses the medicinal value of finger millet, the declining habitat of buckwheat under future climate scenarios and the important nutrients that can be found in finger millet and soil at varying elevations.

Ghanshyam Bhandari earned his Ph.D. from the Agriculture and Forestry University, researching insect diversity of maize and eco-friendly management practices of maize stemborers. Bhandari’s research also assesses the performance of traps for capturing maize insects and farmer perception of climate change in relation to maize cultivation. As a current research officer at the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Bhandari is assisting the IPM Innovation Lab in developing biological control efforts of the invasive fall armyworm in Nepal. 

Hom Nath Giri earned a Ph.D. from the Agriculture and Forestry University and currently serves as an assistant professor of horticulture at his alma mater. His research explores the growth of cauliflower at different ecological zones in Nepal, the effect of nitrogen on the post-harvest quality of cauliflower, and efficacy testing of pesticides against the cabbage butterfly in Nepal.

Anju Sharma Paudel earned a Ph.D. from Tribhuvan University, her research focusing on the management of the invasive weed Ageratina adenophora. Post-graduation, Paudel is continuing to develop her research, predicting the current and future distribution of Ageratina adenophora in Nepal and whether stem-galling of the invasive weed by the biocontrol agent Procecidochares utilis is elevation dependent.

The IPM Innovation Lab supported Ram Asheswar Mandal, a postdoctoral student at Tribhuvan University, over the course of the program. Mandal’s research assesses the impacts of climate change and biological invasion on livelihoods.

The IPM Innovation Lab has also supported 21 master’s-level students in the same project, many of whom now work as agricultural officers for the Nepal government or as lecturers at local universities.

Muni Muniappan, director of the IPM Innovation Lab, said the involvement of students in this project is a win-win for both students and research.

“Students are eager to address the biggest problems of our time,” he said, “whether it be food insecurity, resource limitations, climate change impacts or other constraints. Students bring to these global challenges new perspectives and out-of-the-box thinking that is exactly what is needed to help move the science forward. In return, they receive real-life, hands-on experience in their own country as well as other countries, which further nurtures their problem-solving abilities.”

Graduating master’s students funded by the project include:

  • Sagar Khadka, Tribhuvan University: Decomposition of Eichhornia crassipes of different fungi in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Bidya Shrestha, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of climate change on biodiversity utilization by smallholder farmers. 
  • Pristi Dangol, Tribhuvan University: Changes in the life history traits of the invasive weed Lantana camara in central Nepal.
  • Yashoda Panthi, Tribhuvan University: Diversity of invasive alien plant species and their impacts on provisioning services in a village of Lamjung district. 
  • Ganga Shah, Tribhuvan University: Distribution of vulture species and its nest site from lowland to highland in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal.
  • Vishubha Thapa, Tribhuvan University: Food access and threats to vultures in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Vivekanand Mahat, Agriculture and Forestry University: Hygiene behavior of the honey bee (Apis cerana. F. and Apis mellifera L.) and diversity of flower visitors in rapeseed (Brassica campestris var. toria). 
  • Sarita Sapkota, Agriculture and Forestry University: Relative abundance of dung beetles and their role in nutrient cycling in Terai and mid hills of Nepal. 
  • Ramesh Upreti, Agriculture and Forestry University: Fruit thinning and defoliation effects on the quality and yield of papaya (Carica papaya) cv. Red Lady under net house conditions at Chitwan. 
  • Madhu Sudan Ghimire, Agriculture and Forestry University: Evaluation of indigenous cultivation of potato against late blight (Phytopthora infestance L.) in Okhaldhunga, Nepal.
  • Pratiksha Sharma, Agriculture and Forestry University: Climate resilient maize production among Chepang and non-Chepang communities in Chitwan, Nepal. 
  • Srijana Paudel, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Mikania micrantha in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Abhisek Singh, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Ipomea carnea ssp fistulosa and spatio-temporal distribution of Lantana camara in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Sita Gyawali, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Chromolaena odorata in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Sandeep Dhakal, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Lantana camara in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Sanjeev Bhandari, Tribhuvan University: Climate change and its impacts on fodder availability in Puranchaur, Kaski district.
  • Himal Yonjon, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Eichhornea crassipes in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Chandra Paudel, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of Lantana camara on associated species. 
  • Binod Malla, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of Mikania micrantha on associated species. 
  • Aarati Chand, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of Parthenium hysterophorus on associated species. 
  • Nitu Joshi, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of  Chromolaena odorata on associated species.

This invasive weed modeling project is one of nine projects the IPM Innovation Lab currently manages. Since the program’s inception in 1993, it has funded the research of more than 600 students worldwide.FILED UNDER:AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITYCLIMATE AND NATURAL RESOURCES

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Invasive Species Spread: Mapping the Impacts of Climate Change from Space

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Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Oct 29, 2021

Sita Gyawali
Sita Gyawali

Nepal is considered to be one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change. The country’s unique geographic and topographic variations contribute to its rich biodiversity, which is at great risk from the spread of invasive species. As invasive species are more adaptable to change, they are wiping out critical native species that help communities and ecosystems thrive.  

Using satellite imaging, the Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management and Tribhuvan University in Nepal monitor the spread of invasive weeds, tracking species specifically between the period of 1990 to 2018. The programs account for climatic changes that have occurred over the last 30 years – such as fluctuations in rainfall and temperature – to measure how climate change impacts the spread of the invasive weeds over time.

Chromolaena odorata is one such weed, and is considered one of the world’s worst invasive alien species. Native species are greatly impacted by Chromolaena’s spread. The weed alters soil health, and due to the high level of nitrate content in its leaves, it’s poisonous to cattle.

Tribhuvan University graduate student Sita Gyawali utilized multispectral and medium spatial resolution satellite data – using programs such as Landsat, World View 2, and ArcGIS – to show that Chromolaena has significantly increased in spread over the last 30 years. The weed’s expansion in the Chitwan Annapurna Landscape (CHAL) area was 0.62% in 1992, and 0.87%, 1.11%, 1.29% in the years of 2000, 2010, and 2018, respectively. In total, its coverage increased from 201 sq. km to 412 sq. km, indicating that the weed is still invading new areas. The invasion of Chromolaena is expanding mostly in the mid-hill region of Nepal, considered to encompass the country’s most fertile lands.

“Images from such programs as Landsat and World View have become an invaluable source of data for detecting the spatial distribution of Chromolaena in Nepal,” said Gyawali. “Historical time series of remotely sensed data presents opportunities for characterizing habitat preferences of new species. This information provides us the insight we need in order to find management technologies that can combat the weed.”

In addition to Chromolaena, the project is also assessing the distribution expansion of the invasive weed Lantana camara. Lantana can be extremely destructive, as it smothers native vegetation, reducing species diversity and leading to species extinction. Tribhuvan University graduate student Sandeep Dhakal used Landsat images to show that the weed has increased in spread over the last 30 years, progressing from 0.24%, 0.9%, 1.45%, and 2.74 % in area in CHAL in the years 1992, 2000, 2009, and 2018, respectively. The largest area of distribution was found in Middle Mountain, followed by Siwalik and high mountains.

“Effective mapping of invasive species extent and determining the risk they pose for future invasions is incredibly important to Nepal,” said Dhakal. “The food we eat, the land our animals graze on, and more is at risk if we do not continue to utilize these types of programs to understand invasive species impact.”

Tribhuvan University students knew little about remote sensing before the start of the Virginia Tech-managed project. They gained satellite monitoring and modeling expert assistance from collaborators at the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute, who also operate the IPM Innovation Lab’s monitoring program of the invasive insect pest Tuta absoluta. Through this project alone, the IPM Innovation Lab has supported 27 students for their graduate degrees in Nepal. 

“For students to come into this program and learn a completely new skill – one that they will be able to apply to future careers – is a major contribution to building Nepal’s local research capacity,” said Pramod K. Jha, head of the program. “We know that invasive species respond quickly to change. As climate change persists and globalization continues, we cannot afford to wait to see how our lands are changing over time. Monitoring systems using satellite imaging help give us a bird’s eye view of not only how quickly this change is happening, but how quickly we need to react to ensure no further damage is done.”

Graduate students involved in the invasive weed modeling program in Nepal have already published 42 research publications in international and national journals in the areas of climate change, satellite imaging, biodiversity, and beyond.

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2020 Integrated Pest Management Research, Data and Findings: A Look Back

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Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Feb 09, 2021

Photograph of fall armyworm
Fall Armyworm.

2020 was a year like no other — researchers in search of answers to some of the world’s most pressing questions were forced to think outside the box when trials and experiments were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, communities are facing food insecurity challenges more intensely than ever before, emphasizing the ongoing value of research that looks at the sustainable production of crops. Despite a challenging year, Virginia Tech’s Feed the Future Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab (IPM IL) and its partners aim to highlight some of the 2020 research outputs that will continue to help foster improved livelihoods around the world.

Fall armyworm

Tuta absoluta

Crop protection

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Kenyan scientist warns for impact ToBRFV on African growers

Tomato farmers in Africa have been urged to be on the lookout for the ToBRFV virus that has been causing havoc in most tomato-growing countries. Speaking during African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) Congress in September this year, Dr. Isaac Macharia, General Manager, Phytosanitary Services at the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), said countries in Africa are encouraged to report the occurrence of the disease to ensure other countries prepare.

“This virus is more severe on young tomato plants and can result in 30-70% yield loss. The unique thing about this virus is that it doesn’t infect the embryo of the seed but instead contaminates the seed coat,” he added. “Its rapid spread demonstrates that ToBRFV has become a worldwide threat to tomato production. The continent needs to prepare for the negative impact of the disease in tomato production,” he said.

“There is a need to ensure we prevent the introduction of this virus in most of our countries. We can achieve that if we embrace pre-shipment testing of all imported tomato, capsicum, and eggplant seeds, regardless of their origin, using an appropriate method such as real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction,” he said. He added that there was a need to sensitize importers of tomato/capsicum seed and commercial growers to ensure early reporting of cases.

Breeders also need to work towards the development of varieties with durable resistance genes since phylogenetic analysis shows the genomic sequence of ToBRFV differs from both ToMV and TMV.  “There is also need to invest in laboratory diagnosis for diseases, including tomato diseases. This will help countries carry out continuous tests for a proportion of seed and seedlings for ToBRFV,” he added.

Since Kenya imports most tomato, capsicum, and eggplant seeds from different countries, including those where ToBFRV has been reported, Macharia says it is now mandatory for all imported tomato seeds to be tested using real-time PCR. So far, about 192 imported seeds lots have been tested since February 2021, and no positive samples have been registered so far.

A field survey was also done in 2019 and 256 leaf samples were analyzed (245 tomatoes, 10 capsicums, 1 black nightshade) and all samples tested negative. Despite the negative results, emergency measure on ToBRFV was issued to all-out trading partners and import conditions for tomato and capsicum were amended to include pre-shipment testing and upon importation. 

“We will continue to conduct continuous surveillance to ensure this virus doesn’t get to our country. We are also going to develop contingency plans to prevent spread in case of introduction,” reveals Macharia.

Read the complete article at www.standardmedia.co.ke

Publication date: Wed 17 Nov 2021

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