Archive for the ‘IPM’ Category

Virginia Tech’s Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management is hiring a Country Program Manager for the Feed the Future Bangladesh Integrated Pest Management Activity (IPMA), an associate award funded by the USAID mission in Bangladesh. This activity will address managing current and emerging pest and disease threats of crops, human and institutional capacity building in Bangladesh, and developing, implementing, and scaling up IPM packages for rice, maize, mango, sesame, mung bean, sunflower, lentil, potato, groundnut, eggplant, and bananas. The Country Program Manager will manage the activity in Bangladesh and coordinate with the relevant international and national organizations/institutes/agencies in implementing the activity. See below for further details.

Virginia Tech Feed the Future Bangladesh Integrated Pest Management Activity (IPMA)

Terms of Reference (TOR)

Position:       Country Program Manager

Project:          Feed the Future Bangladesh Integrated Pest Management Activity (IPMA)

Work Site:     Dhaka city with travel to Dhaka, Khulna, and Barisal divisions, Cox’s Bazar, and Bandarban districts. In some cases, the whole country needs to be covered.

Report to:      Principal Investigator

Supervising:    Deputy Program Manager, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Accountant, Driver, Sweeper, Office assistants, and security guards.

Project Background: In Bangladesh, land scarcity, agricultural intensification, and rapid population growth are major issues related to food security. Pests and diseases cause nearly 50 percent crop loss. The IPMA project, an associate award funded by the USAID mission in Bangladesh, will operate for three years from August 1, 2021. It will address managing current and emerging pest and disease threats of crops, human and institutional capacity building in Bangladesh, and developing, implementing, and scaling up IPM packages for rice, maize, mango, sesame, mung bean, sunflower, lentil, potato, groundnut, eggplant, and bananas. Collaboration in-country with CIMMYT, FAO, value chains, and local institutions and agencies is required.

Job Summary: The Country Program Manager (CPM) will take guidance from and report to the Principal Investigator of the IPMA. S/he will manage the IPMA in Bangladesh and coordinate with the relevant international and national organizations/institutes/agencies in implementing IPMA. S/he will keep constant communication with the AOR of the IPMA project and the Principal Investigator. S/he will prepare and submit reports as specified in the Cooperative Agreement. 

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Work with the Project Management team to develop a comprehensive workplan to meet the IPMA goals and objectives.
  • Coordinate with CIMMYT, FAO, and relevant Bangladesh government institutions such as the Department of Extension, academia, financial institutions, judiciary, media, private sector, and value chain actors.
  • Coordinate and prepare monthly reports, quarterly reports, annual reports, success stories, and other reports as needed.
  • Organize workshops/symposia/meetings/conferences/webinars related to the project.
  • Communicate with the AOR and Principal Investigator regularly and respond to their requests promptly.
  • Manage IPMA progress and ensure compliance with the workplan.
  • Participate in project monitoring and evaluation activities.
  • Monitor, identify, and initiate or stimulate producing scientific and/or popular publications collaboratively.

Required Qualifications and Skills:

  • Master’s Degree in a subject related to Agriculture and/or administration
  • Significant international experience in the agricultural sector
  • At least 7 years relevant professional work experience
  • Prior experience working in IPM, agricultural research or extension, value chain/market system development projects or other institutions.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English
  • Experience with academic research programs
  • Evidence of inclusive leadership
  • Familiarity with project management approaches, tools, and phases of the project lifecycle
  • Ability to work effectively at all levels in an organization
  • Problem-solving and root cause identification skills; strong analytic and decision-making abilities
  • Ability to take direction and to focus on and follow through on priority activities and assignments; ability to effectively handle multiple tasks without compromising the quality, team spirit, and constructive working relationships with all colleagues
  • Excellent organizational skills, attention to detail, and flexible work style
  • Demonstrated ability to handle confidential and/or sensitive information
  • Computer Skills: Proficient in MS Office and internet applications

Preferred Qualifications and Skills:

  • PhD in a relevant field, preferably in Entomology, Plant Pathology, or a field related to integrated pest management.
  • Knowledge of and experience with USAID rules and regulations

How to Apply

To apply, please send the completed application found at this link Application and resume/CV by email to: FTFBIPMA.Employment@gmail.com, with “IPMA Country Program Manager” in the subject heading. Applications will be reviewed beginning on 1 September 2020, and the position will remain open until filled. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted. Recruitment is contingent upon the successful award of the project; this document should not be construed in any way to represent a contract of employment.

Virginia Tech is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. Women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and protected veterans are strongly encouraged to apply. Anyone having questions concerning discrimination or accessibility should contact the Virginia Tech Office for Equity and Accessibility.

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Karel Bolckmans, COO with Biobest:

“AI and robotics will bring us to the Olympic version of IPM”

“Data-driven growing is a big thing in horticulture in general. Many growers are into autonomous growing, data-driven greenhouse management, and advanced analytics. We’re convinced that this revolution will impact biological crop protection as well”, says Karel Bolckmans, COO with Biobest. “After all, if artificial intelligence (AI) can help you grow more efficiently and achieve higher yields, it will definitely render further improvement to your IPM program as well.”

“Since retailers want to offer a complete produce gamma year-round of for example greenhouse tomatoes and deal with as few suppliers as possible, we’re seeing an evolution towards rapid scale increase of greenhouse operations. Growers need to grow sufficient quantities of a complete offering twelve months per year, from cherry to beef tomato and everything in between. It results in bigger, multi-site, and international companies that can be complex to control. Data-driven growing enables you to keep track”, Karel explains.

“We also see that data-driven growing performs much better than growers themselves when it comes to optimizing plant growth. We’ll be moving to grow based on hard data, not on gut feeling.”

“The same is true for IPM. The results of biocontrol-based IPM tools are largely dependent on knowing exactly what is going on in the greenhouse. The better you know how your plants and their pests and their natural enemies are doing, the more efficient and effective you will be able to deploy your crop protection tools and the less chemical pesticides you will need to use.”

Partnerships and own development
In May last year, Biobest launched Crop-Scanner, which comprises a scouting App for recording the location, severity, and identity of pests and diseases in the crop. Clearly visualizing these data via its web-based interface through heatmaps and graphs allows the grower to have a better overview of the situation in his crop while allowing his Biobest advisor to give him the best possible technical advice. More recently, Biobest also entered into a partnership with the Canadian company Ecoation, which developed a mobile data harvesting platform that combines deep biology, computer vision and sensor technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics. “We’ve been in touch for several years now and recently decided to work together on creating IPM 3.0. Their camera’s, sensors, and autonomous vehicles allow us to collect the best possible data which serve as input for an artificial intelligence-based Decision Support System (DSS) that allows us to provide the growers with the best-in-class technical advice regarding integrated pest and disease management (IPM)”, Karel explains.  “At the same time, growers have been struggling with several severe virus outbreaks, of which ToBRFV and COVID were only a few. This has made it harder for us to frequently visit our customers in person to provide them with technical advice. But how to get accurate information from growers about the situation in the crop if you can’t visit them? Ecoation’s web-based user interface allows for remote counseling, thereby rendering frequent on-site technical visits are not necessary anymore.”

There’s more… Earlier this month, Biobest announced their investment in Arugga, Israeli developer of a robotic tomato pollinator. It might look like an alternative for the Biobest bumblebees – and actually, it is. “But our goal is not to sell the most bumblebees or beneficial insects and mites. We want to be the grower’s most reliable provider of the most effective solutions in pollination and integrated pest management in a world characterized by rapid innovation.” Although this might sound like a big change in policy for the company, Karel emphasizes that it is not at all as rash a decision as it might seem. “We’re convinced that having access to more accurate information of the status of pests, diseases and natural enemies in their crop will allow growers to develop more trust in biocontrol-based IPM and therefore reach out less fast to the pesticide bottle.”

We have done extensive research for over three years, studying the available technologies and patents. That way, we concluded that Ecoation made a wonderful match, not only in terms of technology but also when it came to vision and company culture. The same goes for Arugga. Their respective technologies support the development of the horticultural business to deal with the ever-increasing challenges of scale-increase, labor shortage, and market demand.”

The technologies Biobest now participates in go beyond IPM. The Ecoation technology for example also concerns yield prediction, high-resolution climate measurements, and controlling the quality of crop work. “Through the Ecoation technology anomalies can be detected much earlier, that way predicting and preventing outbreaks of pests and diseases. Non-stop measuring everywhere is our ideal. This way we will learn more about the effect of climate on the plant and, more importantly, the effects of the crop protection measures.”

Karel notices an increasing interest of growers in this kind of technology. “There is an increasing market demand for residue-free fruits and vegetables. That’s the direction we’re heading to. Our aim is to help growers do this in the best way possible: with the support of robotics and AI.”

Data collection will convince more growers
He is convinced that the data that can be collected will convince more growers to start using the Ecoation and Arugga technologies. “We see now that pioneers in North America are highly interested and are currently successfully trialing these technologies. But it’s more than that: what we sell, is a production increase because of less plant stress from pests and diseases. Moreover, every single pesticide treatment causes plant stress and therefore negatively influences crop yield. This is very well known among experienced growers. ”

He remembers when a couple of decades ago, they saw the same when growers started switching from chemical crop protection to IPM. “I vividly remember 2006-2007 in Spain when many growers made the switch to biological control. They didn’t want to, they were forced by the retailers after the publication of a report on pesticide residues on Spanish produce by Greenpeace Germany. But at the end of that year, everybody was picking more and better peppers. In Kenya and elsewhere, rose growers who switch to biocontrol-based IPM pick more flowers, with a long stem and a better vase life. However, stories like this have never been scientifically quantified and published but are very well known to everyone in the industry. With our technologies, we will be able to immediately and continuously measure the exact effects of IPM on crop yield. Less work, more objective data. That means harvesting more kilos with less effort. AI and robotics will bring us to the Olympic version of IPM.”For more information:Biobestinfo@biobestgroup.comwww.biobestgroup.com

Publication date: Fri 25 Jun 2021
Author: Arlette Sijmonsma
© HortiDaily.com

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Greenhouse IPM

Dr Mike Bledsoe, Village Farms

“The IPM program has made an enormous impact on the industry”

Pesticides are used in agriculture to keep plants healthy from pesky pests. But, beneficial insects are also used in farming to reduce the need for chemical pesticides and help facilitate the healthy growth of produce.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a method used to reduce the need for chemicals in agriculture while optimizing plant health. Among indoor farmers, especially hydroponic greenhouse growers (and more specifically high-tech Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), the type of farming Village Farms growers engage in) an IPM program was implemented with success in the greenhouse industry thanks in large part to the contribution of Village Farms.

Left: Dr. Mike Bledsoe; right: IPM method to reduce the need for chemicals in agriculture. 

Village Farms’ growers monitor every aspect of growth. Mike Bledsoe, PhD and vice president of food safety and regulatory affairs at Village Farms, was instrumental in developing its food safety program. He helped develop a pesticide registration solution for the greenhouse industry at large. Dr. Bledsoe, in conjunction with the IR-4 Project, who supports registrations for specialty crops like tomatoes, has worked to register biologicals for the edible plant industry. Today, the food safety team headed up by Dr. Bledsoe works with the company’s growers on an IPM program, implemented in all greenhouses in North America.

Among these insects, bees are prolific pollinators responsible for pollinating about 75 percent of the world’s crops. Village Farms employs about two Bumble beehives per acre to pollinate plants and keep them thriving.

The goal of IPM is to respond to harmful pests with effective, safe, low-risk options. When appropriate, Village Farms administers organic pesticides on crops. The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) approved pesticides used and they have a very short half-life –meaning no residual chemicals are left by the time the produce hits the grocery store shelves.

Yamilee Galindo Colomo of Village Farms food safety team in Texas.

IPM can be used to the fullest in Village Farms greenhouses. The glass enclosure around the plants allows for growers to account for many variables. The temperature, amount of water to the plant and sunlight exposure, and more can be modified in our greenhouses to allow for optimal growth. This allows for more efficient use of resources.

“The IPM program has made an enormous impact on the industry,” says Dr. Bledsoe. “The work we have done over the past several decades has made greenhouse growing throughout North America an even more sustainable growing practice. We have been able to stay ahead of the growing safety expectations that our customers now require.”

To find out more about Village Farms’ growing methods and sustainability growing practices, check out the Good for the Earth program.

For more information:
Helen L. Aquino
Village Farms International Inc.
Tel: +1 (407) 936-1190 ext. 312

Publication date: Mon 14 Jun 2021

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Walmart introduces restoring pollinator habitat program

Imagine mornings without orange juice or summer picnics without strawberries. Such a future is possible if we don’t take collective action to begin restoring pollinator habitats worldwide.

It’s estimated one of every three bites of food we eat is possible because of animal pollinators. Yet studies show vital pollinator populations have been declining over the last 30 years due to loss of habitat, pests, pollution, pesticides and a changing climate.

To help improve pollinator health and biodiversity in the regions in which we operate, Walmart U.S. is announcing new pollinator commitments that will further our efforts to help reverse nature loss and ultimately bring us closer to meeting new nature commitments made by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation.

These commitments aim to reduce several pollinator threats through promoting integrated pest management (IPM) practices and improving and expanding pollinator habitats.

One contributor to pollinator decline is the use of pesticides. Pollinator exposure to pesticides can be reduced by minimizing the use of pesticides, incorporating alternative forms of pest control and adopting a range of specific application practices through an Integrated Pest Management system. Therefore, Walmart U.S. is committing to source 100 percent of the fresh produce and floral we sell from suppliers that adopt IPM practices, as verified by a third-party, by 2025.

We also encourage fresh produce suppliers to phase out chlorpyrifos and nitroguanidine neonicotinoids pesticides (where applicable unless mandated otherwise by law), avoid replacing them with other products with a level I bee precaution rating and assess and report annual progress.

Pollinators are fundamental for around 80 percent of all flowering plants and more than three-quarters of the food crops that feed us. Walmart U.S. will encourage fresh produce suppliers to protect, restore or establish pollinator habitats by 2025 on at least 3 percent of land they own, operate and/or invest in and report annual progress. We will also continue to avoid selling invasive plant species in our retail stores (based on recognized regional lists). And we will work with local organizations to protect, restore or establish pollinator habitats in major pollinator migration corridors.

We have also partnered with solar developers to establish pollinator habitats around solar panel arrays. We will continue looking for opportunities to establish more pollinator habitats where feasible.

Finally, the Walmart Foundation recently granted funding to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability to leverage citizen science data to monitor pollinators more cost-effectively, unlocking opportunities to improve conservation planning, farm practices and landscape management in the United States.

To help educate our customers about pollinator plants, Walmart U.S. encourages suppliers to label pollinator-friendly plants as attractive to pollinators in retail locations. Plants that attract pollinators will feature special tags to help customers grow pollinator gardens. In total, more than 1.3 million annual and perennial pollinator-promoting plants will carry tags in Walmart stores this spring.

For more information:
Gabby Ach

Publication date: Thu 15 Apr 2021

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Fall armyworm ‘worsens hunger among smallholders’

maize farm

Maize farmer inspecting her crops. Copyright: Axel Fassio/CIFORCC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Speed read

  • Fall armyworm destroys maize worth almost US$5 billion annually in 12 African countries
  • In a Zimbabwe study, the pest increased likelihood of hunger by 12 per cent
  • Farmers need cost-effective, environmentally sustainable control measures, experts say
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By: Onyango Nyamol

[NAIROBI] The invasive crop pest fall armyworm is well known for its devastating effects on maize yields in Africa, but few studies have been done on its broader impact on poverty levels and food security.

Now a study in Zimbabwe has found that smallholder maize-growing households blighted by fall armyworm are more likely to experience hunger and could see their income almost halved in severe cases, highlighting the urgency of strategies to tackle the pest.

“Our study suggests that the outbreak is threatening food security and negatively affecting farmers’ livelihoods, hence urgent actions are needed.”

Justice Tambo, CABI

According to the study, estimates from 12 maize‐producing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa including Benin, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe indicate that without control measures, the pest could cause maize losses of up to 17.7 million tonnes, translating into revenue loss of up to almost US$5 billion a year.

But researchers say that the negative impacts of the pest are far more than yield losses, with the potential to significantly impact food security and livelihoods.

The study, published in Food and Energy Security last month (15 March), shows that households affected by fall armyworm were 11 per cent more likely to experience food shortages, while their members had a 13 per cent higher likelihood of going to bed hungry or a whole day without eating. It also found that found that severe levels of infestation reduced per capita household income by 44 per cent.

“Our study suggests that the outbreak is threatening food security and negatively affecting farmers’ livelihoods, hence urgent actions are needed to address the menace posed by fall armyworm,” says Justice Tambo, the study’s lead author and a socio-economist at the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI, the parent organisation of SciDev.Net).

According to the study, fall armyworm was first reported in Zimbabwe during the 2016 and 2017 cropping season, and has continued to spread in subsequent seasons.

Researchers used survey data from 350 smallholder maize-growing households in six of Zimbabwe’s main maize production provinces. Data was collected in September 2018 by CABI in collaboration with Zimbabwe Plant Quarantine and Plant Protection Research Services Institute.

“We decided to conduct this study to provide evidence [of] how the fall armyworm outbreak is affecting farmers’ livelihoods beyond reductions in maize yields,” Tambo says. “While fall armyworm cannot be eradicated, taking actions to at least prevent severe level of infestation can significantly reduce welfare losses in terms of income and food security.”

Boddupalli Prasanna, director of the global maize programme at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, tells SciDev.Net that fall armyworm is a serious concern to resource-constrained smallholders who have multiple challenges to tackle.

“We certainly need to provide effective, scalable and affordable technologies to the farming communities to combat the pest in a sustainable manner. Farmers cannot afford to rely on expensive chemical pesticides to and control fall armyworm,” says Prasanna, who was not involved in the study.

Prasanna adds that there is no single specific technology that can provide sustainable control of a pest like fall armyworm.

“We need to adopt an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy, including effective integration of improved varieties with resistance to the pest, environmentally safer pesticides, biological control … and good agronomic practices,” he says. “We need to [increase] extensive awareness among extension agents and farming communities about IPM strategy for the control of fall armyworm.”

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According to Tambo, the findings have implications for policymakers, researchers and farmers. Farmers need to adopt low-risk pesticides products such as biopesticides, and combine them with safe non-chemical options including rotation and intercropping with other crops such as beans and cassava, he explains.

This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.


Justice A. Tambo and others Impact of fall armyworm invasion on household income and food security in Zimbabwe (Food and Energy Security, 15 March 2020)

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Minnesota is poised to lead an environmental breakthrough

Minnesota StarTribune

Pending bills would give communities local control over pesticides, safeguard protected wildlife areas and more. By Karin Winegar APRIL 6, 2021 — 5:29PM

NICOLE NERI • NICOLE.NERI@STARTRIBUNE.COMBees are one of the many pollinators harmed by pesticides.TEXT SIZEEMAILPRINTMORE

When I was a child in a southern Minnesota farm town, summers were filled with bird music, bee hum, firefly light and frog song. Then the city sprayed with what I presume was DDT. A great silence followed that fogger.

In 1962, marine biologist Rachel Carson’s bestseller “Silent Spring,” an indictment of DDT, appeared and led to a ban on the pesticide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1972.

As an adult, I watched a growing range of chemicals being linked to rises in cancer, nerve damage, obesity, endocrine disruption, death and deformities (frogs, alligators) and die-offs (birds, pollinators, fish) in the natural world. As a journalist, I sometimes wrote about the effects of man-made chemicals and, in particular, the consequences of pesticide and herbicide use.

Now Minnesota stands on the cusp of passing some of the most enlightened legislation in the nation to protect human and ecosystem health. With a handful of bills slated to be heard in the Legislature, we may have reached a critical mass of scientific documentation, legislative smarts and public understanding that could result in a state that is cleaner, safer and healthier for people, pets and vital pollinators.

The pending bills give communities local control over pesticides (HF 718), set rules for pesticide-coated corn and soy seed to avoid contamination (HF 766), prohibit neonicotinoid systemic pesticides (aka “neonics”) and chlorpyrifos (insecticide) in protected wildlife areas (HF 1210), impose a statewide ban on chlorpyrifos (HF 670) and increase pollinator-lethal insecticide fees with revenue allocated to pollinator research (HF 408).

Decades of study by institutions including Cornell University, Harvard University’s School of Public Health, Rutgers University and consumer protection groups show correlations between pesticides and the current insect apocalypse, rises in cancer and pet illness and deaths, and damage to child development.

DDT may have gone, but neonics are far more powerful. Results of a study by the University Koblenz and Landau in Germany, published in Science magazine on April 1, finds “that the toxicity of applied insecticides to aquatic invertebrates and pollinators has increased considerably.”

“These are extremely challenging and complex issues, and Minnesota is offering a number of innovative ways to respond to much-needed protections,” says Aimée Code, pesticide program director of the nonprofit Xerces Society based in Portland, Ore. “Across the country people are seeking answers, and states are looking at what is happening in Minnesota. Minnesota has been creative in seeking solutions through such actions as the Lawns to Legumes program and efforts to label pesticides, to ratchet down pesticide use, to create more bio-sensitive and sustainable agriculture and to give farmers incentives to not use treated seed.

“Currently, [people] think pest control and pesticide are synonymous, and that pesticides should be a first line of defense, ” Code explained. “The vast majority of our invertebrates are foundational species that offer ecological services — everything from pest management, to help filtering our water, to pollination. Chemical pesticides have become ingrained in our agriculture and homeowner practices. We have to think of smarter solutions.”

As farmers, consumers and legislative bodies continue to get smarter about solutions, neonics were banned for outdoor use in the European Union in 2018. Legislation pending in New York, California, Alaska and Massachusetts would do likewise.

Mac Ehrhardt is co-owner of the Albert Lea Seed House, a third generation family firm that put certified organic seed on its menu in 1998. The latter is a small but increasing percentage of Seed House business, he says. And while a majority of farmers purchase seed there based on costs, others recognize the concerns around chemicals.

What is also new on the issue, Ehrhardt says, is “we are getting legislators brave enough to stand up and do what is right even though they know a percentage of constituents will be angry with them.”

The Minnesota bills reflect an understanding that what affects insects, plants and animals affects humans as well.

“The evidence is very clear that neonics can be found throughout the environment now in places they are not expected to be,” says Jonathan Lundgren, an agroecologist, director of ECDYSIS Foundation, CEO of Blue Dasher Farm in Estilline, S.D., and former U.S. Department of Agriculture award-winning entomologist. Lundgren’s recent study of white tail deer spleens demonstrates that the world’s most widely used pesticide class today has negative effects on mammals.

“This has implications for our ecosystem that farmers and legislators alike can appreciate. The response from the ag chem industry is to say their products are safe and helping farmers, but the data really doesn’t support that. Neonics and other chemicals simply aren’t necessary. Farmers are developing systems that make the pesticide question kind of moot. Regenerative farming is proving to be more resilient and more profitable. The scientists got it, and farmers are getting it.”

Karin Winegar, of St. Paul, is a freelance journalist and former Star Tribune staff writer.

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Part of the CGIAR International Year of Plant Health Webinar Series


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By Charlotte Tucker -March 9, 2021Share on FacebookTweet on Twitter

Prof. Irina Borodina, founder of BioPhero

Today BioPhero, the insect pheromone company, today announced it has raised around €14.2 million in Series A funding led by DCVC Bio with participation from new investor FMC Ventures, as well as existing investors Syngenta Group Ventures and Novo Holdings. The startup, which has a mission to replace many chemical insecticides with sustainable biological insect pheromones, will use this funding to ramp up production of several products and to produce pheromones at the quantity, quality, and price required to allow farmers to control major pests in a variety of row crops.

Pheromones, being non-toxic, can be a powerful tool to achieve the objective of insect pest control, while avoiding the negative impacts on environment and biodiversity associated with overuse of synthetic chemicals. Pheromones are naturally produced by insects, but they can also be used very effectively to control the buildup of pest populations in farmers’ fields by disrupting their mating process. They are highly sustainable as they are insect-specific and non- toxic. Not only can they replace insecticide use but they can also reduce over-application by helping to prevent the buildup of resistance against both chemical insecticides and GM seeds.

Following its seed round in 2018, BioPhero developed – and scaled up – new and efficient production methods for insect pheromones using microbial fermentation. The production processes use renewable raw materials, produce less waste than the traditional chemical synthesis, and – crucially – are able to deliver insect pheromones at the cost, quality, and volume required for row crops such as wheat, maize, rice, and soybeans. BioPhero has successfully demonstrated that it can produce pheromones at tonne-scale, and the company is now ready to start production of its first product and to make it available to customers and development partners around the world.

Kristian Ebbensgaard, CEO of BioPhero, explained: “We aim to give farmers a new option: To protect their crops using biological insect pheromones rather than having to rely on insecticides. In row crops this has not been possible until now because of the high cost of pheromones. At BioPhero, we have shown we can break this cost barrier. We are delighted to continue to attract such high-quality investors and see this as a testament to the success we have had in developing and scaling biological pheromone production and delivering new options for growers”.

Unlike with insecticides, insects do not develop resistance to insect pheromones because they are produced by females to attract males for mating and do not present a single target that can easily be overcome by evolution. Insect pheromones are highly effective, have an exemplary safety record and do not harm pollinators or other non-target insects.

“We have been examining the use of insect pheromones in agriculture and new startups in this area for many years. Until now, no company has succeeded in manufacturing pheromones at a cost and scale suitable for worldwide use,” said John Hamer co-Managing Partner of DCVC Bio. “BioPhero’s patented breakthrough platform is the only one that is delivering the cost structure, manufacturing flexibility and quality that allow pheromones to be deployed on major row crops.”

BioPhero was founded in 2016 by Prof. Irina Borodina as a technology spin-out from the Technical University of Denmark. Borodina has assembled a dedicated world-class team with competencies within metabolic engineering, fermentation, chemistry, and process development, also participating as a consortium member in the EU-funded Projects OLEFINE and PHERA. 

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Controlling herbicide resistance takes persuading

TAGS: WEEDSRESISTANCE MANAGEMENTBrad Hairebrad-haire-farm-press-pigweed-smallish-cotton-GA.jpgCharlie Cahoon urges farmers to be on the lookout for Palmer amaranth surviving 2,4-D or dicamba. Integrated pest management is key for tackling herbicide resistance.

John Hart | Jan 04, 2021

The answers to managing herbicide resistance are fairly simple, the hard part comes in persuading farmers to implement the practices that do the most good.

Charlie Cahoon, North Carolina State University Extension weed specialist, says integrated pest management is key. Farmers need to rotate herbicide chemistries and turn to cultural and mechanical methods to alleviate some of the pressure on over-used herbicides.

“As Extension specialists, we’ve been using fire and brimstone. We think one of the tactics that drives folks to change practices on their farm is to scare them to death,” Cahoon said in a presentation at the virtual North Carolina Crop Protection School Dec. 2.

“My daddy has trained bird dogs his whole life. He used to think the way to train a dog was to use discipline. My three-year old daughter just taught him it is quite easy to train a dog with a handful of treats. There are studies to back this up, rewarding good behavior. I think that’s what we are having to learn right now with pesticide resistance: How do we get our growers to put into practice the tactics we’ve been preaching for years,” Cahoon said.

One option, Cahoon says, is providing farmers an economic incentive to implement integrated pest management practices. But where will the incentive come from?

Companies do have inventive programs, but Cahoon believes the incentive programs must cross company lines to encourage farmers to rotate modes of action and implement cultural practices to better control weeds.

Moreover, incentives must be in place for farmers to use cover crops, better crop rotation and other tools such as harvest weed seed control. “It really needs to be a whole industry initiative where we all get on the same page and say, ‘hey let’s reward some of these good behaviors and try to get ahead of this pesticide resistance issue,” Cahoon said.

Herbicide resistance is a problem that’s not going away.

In North Carolina, Cahoon says there is widespread Palmer amaranth resistance to glyphosate and ALS inhibitors, plus expected resistance to PPO inhibitors. There is common ragweed resistance to glyphosate and ALS inhibitors, primarily in the eastern part of the state. And there is widespread Italian ryegrass resistance to ALS inhibitors, mostly in the southern Piedmont.

Looking to the future, Cahoon said he won’t be surprised if North Carolina farmers begin to see resistance to group 15 herbicides, such a Dual, Warrant, Harness and Zidua.

“We use them repeatedly in most of our crops —  corn, soybeans, cotton, peanuts, and sweet potatoes. We are putting quite a bit of pressure on the group 15s, and there is already group 15 Palmer amaranth resistance in Arkansas and also a cousin to Palmer amaranth, waterhemp, is resistant to the group 15s in Illinois,” Cahoon said.

And as the use of dicamba and 2,4-D continues to grow, resistance to these chemistries can be expected as well. “There is evidence we are abusing dicamba and 2,4-D like we did glyphosate. That is unacceptable,” Cahoon said.RELATED Pigweed continues to outflank herbicidesNovember 11, 2020More resistant weeds popping up in North CarolinaMarch 5, 2020Building respect and value for soybeansNovember 24, 2020

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Welcome to the 32nd edition of ENDURE News, the electronic newsletter from ENDURE. Please feel free to share this newsletter with colleagues.

  • IPM works and IPMWORKS will show how!
    A European-wide network of farms is being constructed in order to “demonstrate and promote cost-effective strategies on Integrated Pest Management (IPM)”. Called IPMWORKS, the four-year Horizon 2020 project was launched in October and brings together 31 partners from 16 countries. The project will be developing an online IPM resource toolbox for farmers, advisers and researchers to easily search, share and discuss IPM reources and you can help out by completing a short survey.

  • Survey: Agroecology initiatives in Europe
    Agroecology Europe has produced its first report mapping a large number of agroecological initiatives across Europe, allowing it to identify key findings and recommendations for fostering agroecology around the continent.
  • DiverIMPACTS: Be inspired by success stories
    DiverIMPACTS, the project striving “to achieve the full diversification potential of cropping systems for improved productivity, delivery of ecosystem services and resource-efficient and sustainable value chains”, has published a series of success stories to inspire further diversification.
  • IHAR joins forces for late blight study
    Poland’s Plant Breeding and Acclimatization Institute (IHAR) has joined forces with the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research to broaden knowledge “on plant diseases and the factors influencing resistance or susceptibility to pathogens”. In particular, they will be focusing on potato and the economically important disease which affects crops worldwide, potato late blight (pictured right).
  • Magazine gives insights into Agroscope research
    Agroscope, ENDURE’s Swiss partner, has launched a magazine to better share the topics it is working on. Available in English, French and German, the magazine provides concrete examples of its work, alongside interviews with key researchers and access to further sources of information such as videos and other publications.
  • ReMIX: Updates from the teams
    The next challenge for the ReMIX project (Species mixtures for redesigning European cropping systems) has been unveiled by the team’s coordinators. Writing in the project’s third newsletter, they highlight the importance of winning the support of policy makers in increasing the adoption of intercropping.
  • 5 principles for Scottish plant health
    Scotland has launched five key principles to protect the country’s plant health. Scotland’s Plant Health Centre published the principles to mark the United Kingdom’s Plant Health Week, which is itself part of the United Nations’ International Year of Plant Health.
  • UK launches centre for tomorrow’s food experts
    Rothamsted Research is joining forces with eight other universities and research institutes in the United Kingdom to create a joint PhD training centre focused on “developing the next generation of interdisciplinary food systems experts”.
  • Downy mildew breakthrough
    French researchers believe new control methods for grapevine downy mildew (pictured right) are a realistic prospect after managing to identify the group of genes involved in its sexual reproduction. It is the first time these genes have been identified in oomycetes, reports France’s INRAE.
  • Catch up with Agroecology Europe
    The latest edition of the newsletter from Agroecology Europe is now available. It includes the association’s position on the European Commission’s From Farm to Fork and biodiversity strategies, details of 2021’s 3rd Agroecology Europe forum and news from around the continent, including a feature on an innovative Belgian farmer.
  • Real-life nature-based IPM
    The latest electronic newsletter from Agricology, a community bringing farmers and researchers together to share knowledge in pursuit of “practical sustainable farming regardless of labels”, includes an interesting feature on UK farmer Martin Lines, chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network.
  • Intercropping event to go virtual
    DECEMBER update: The organisers of next year’s Intercropping for Sustainability conference have opted for a virtual event via Zoom. Organisers had pledged to remain flexible about the format for the event, which was scheduled to be held at the UK’s University of Reading on January 19th and 20th.
  • Mixtures no ‘silver bullet’ to resistance
    Current efforts to stop the spread of resistance through the use of pesticide mixtures might sometimes “be doing as much harm as good”, says ENDURE partner Rothamsted Research.
  • DIVERSify: Watch and learn!
    The DIVERSify project has launched a mini-series “exploring the benefits and challenges of cultivating crop mixtures as an alternative to monoculture”. The series is called Growing Beyond Monoculture and currently consists of three episodes.
  • PPPs in Swiss field crops: Use and aquatic risks
    Researchers at Agroscope, ENDURE’s Swiss partner, have completed a study examining the use and risk of plant protection products (PPPs) in the country’s field crops over a period of 10 years. They conclude that decreasing amounts of PPPs are being used in the country but show that quantity alone does not determine the risk to the environment.
  • Events calendar: Check it out!
    After the difficulties of staging events in 2020, a slew of conferences and meetings have been rescheduled for 2021, and some events, both new and reorganised, are including the possibility of virtual attendance or even introducing back-up plans that will allow organisers to move meetings to online-only events at short notice.
  • IWMPRAISE: Latest newsletter now available
    IWMPRAISE (Integrated Weed Management: PRActical Implementation and Solutions for Europe) has produced its fourth newsletter, bringing readers up to date with the latest news from the Horizon 2020 project. The project is now entering its fourth and penultimate year and 2020 should have seen the finalisation of experiments and a plethora of workshops and open days, activities which were rendered impossible by the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • To find out more about ENDURE, visit: www.endure-network.eu
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