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Archive for the ‘Monitoring’ Category

CABI Plantwise Blog

From Satellites to Stem Borers: Using Earth Observation to Forecast Pest Outbreaks

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Globally, over 500 million smallholder farmers provide food for two thirds of the world’s population. With 40% of crops lost annually to pests, achieving zero hunger by 2030 depends on increasing the productivity of these smallholders.

We already have weather forecasts, pollen forecasts and UV forecasts, but what if farmers had access to pest forecasts?

At the recent annual ICT4D Conference in Lusaka, CABI’s global director of knowledge management, Cambria Finegold, gave a talk on CABI’s Pest Risk Information Service (PRISE) for Sub-Saharan Africa commenting, “The ICT4D delegates were the perfect receptive audience for emerging technologies like PRISE, understanding the need for the tech and development sectors to work more closely together in order to accelerate progress towards achieving the global goals.”

By combining earth observation technology, plant health modelling, and real-time field observations, PRISE can deliver tailored pest alerts and actionable advice to farmers when and where they need it.

PRISE models risk to crop health from insects and diseases based on environmental data. Tailored messages are used to provide a risk assessment to growers in defined regions. Advice and support is offered via the Plantwise network and other extension services, and subscribers are prompted to provide crowdsourced feedback, which is used to validate the model. This feedback loop provides greater confidence in the forecasts.

PRISE-flowchart

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Mobile pest alerts

The first release of PRISE is currently live and being used by Plantwise plant doctors in Kenya, Ghana and Zambia. Plant doctors receive weekly alerts from a chatbot on the Telegram messaging system, translating risk levels into actionable information about the pest situation in their districts. A few days later, they receive a follow-up message asking for feedback on the accuracy of the model, which is then used to update it and improve the model.

As the system develops more data on pests and crops will be added, new features will be integrated and it will be made available to more users through more channels. This development is planned over the next few years to ensure that the system is sustainable and eventually able to run independently.

Innovation can provide new solutions and CABI is committed to a continued development of its work with new technologies.

Watch this video for more on PRISE

PRISE is funded by the International Partnership Programme (IPP) which is run by the UK Space Agency. IPP focuses strongly on using the UK space sector’s research and innovation strengths to deliver a sustainable economic or societal benefit to emerging and developing economies around the world

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The Plantwise Blog

 

New coalition puts knowledge and skills into the hands of those who need it

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CABI has joined forces with the ISEAL Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Coalition in the fight to implement better, less chemical-dependent, ways for farmers to manage agricultural pests and diseases that account for around 40% of lost crops worldwide. By linking with the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, the coalition aims to share knowledge on sustainable pest management strategies, strengthen knowledge exchanges on alternative methods for pest management, as well as identifying and focusing on specific pest-disease.

Cambria Finegold, Global Director, Knowledge Management, at CABI, said, “One of the ways in which CABI works to help the 500 million smallholder farmers around the world grow more and lose less is to present them with the latest knowledge and advise on how to tackle devastating pest and diseases. “Our partnership with the ISEAL IPM Coalition is a major step forward in disseminating the very best in information and expertise into the hands of those who need it to grow healthy and sustainable crops but also protect their livelihoods.”

Other areas of cooperation as part of the new agreement includes exploring the possibilities to train Plantwise plant doctors  on sustainability standards and promote the exchange of knowledge and experiences on integrated pest management. The partnership will also explore the possibilities to implement pest-specific integrated pest management events and workshops as well as sharing examples of good practice and alternatives to pesticides.

For the IPM coalition, the technical and field experience of nine standard systems covering many countries and diverse production systems combined with Plantwise’s rich information about alternative pest control methods provide a great opportunity for technicians of farms, fields and forests to responsibly offer the best available information for least toxic chemical or non-chemical pest control methods. The dissemination of this upgraded information package to thousands of stakeholders of the IPM coalition members will not only lead to transparent information about sustainable pest management, but most importantly contribute to a more informed selection of pest control alternatives with the least environmental and human impacts.

The IPM Integrated Pest Management Coalition is composed by ISEAL Alliance members: Better Cotton InitiativeBonsucroFairtrade InternationalForest Stewardship CouncilGlobal Coffee PlatformRoundtable on Sustainable BiomaterialsGolf Environment OrganizationSustainable Agriculture Network and Rainforest Alliance. The overall long term goal of the coalition is to reduce or eliminate the use of Highly Hazardous Pesticides and to achieve a significant reduction of pesticide risks to health and the environment with effective standard and certification system’s tools.

For more information on the coalition, visit http://www.ipm-coalition.org

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From the Aliens’ list/PestNet

From: Arne Witt <a.witt@cabi.org>
Date: 9 November 2017 at 20:25
Subject: [Aliens-L] FAW

New report reveals cost of Fall Armyworm and provides recommendations for control

 

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The report, commissioned by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), reviews the current evidence of the potential impact of the pest and quantifies the likely economic effect on agricultural sectors in affected countries and regions if left unmanaged.

In the absence of any control methods, we estimate that the pest has the potential to cause huge maize yield losses in Africa and we expect it to spread throughout suitable habitats in mainland sub-Saharan Africa within the next few cropping seasons. Northern Africa and Madagascar are also at risk. This would clearly have a huge impact on food security and the achievement of SDG 2 (Zero Hunger).

Control of Fall Armyworm requires an integrated pest management (IPM) approach and immediate recommendations we make in the report include raising awareness on Fall Armyworm symptoms, early detection and control, and the creation and communication of a list of recommended, regulated pesticides and biopesticides to control the pest. Work must also start to assess which crop varieties can resist or tolerate Fall Armyworm. In the longer run national policies should promote lower risk control options through short term subsidies and rapid assessment and registration of biopesticides and biological control products.

To see the reports:

Download the 10 page summary of the evidence note

Download the full evidence note

 

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These  can dive, swim, and jump like dolphins

Puffins, flying fish, and dolphins are naturals in both the air and sea, moving from one to the other with ease. Now, for the first time, a tiny robot is joining their routine. The bee-sized bot, which can fly by flapping its tiny wings, has been re-engineered to dive into water, swim, take off again, and land safely. Once it dries off, the “robo-bee” can repeat the whole routine—or go back to flying. But engineering for water wasn’t easy. The researchers realized early on that their 175-milligram bot needed help staying upright underwater. So they added stabilizing cross beams and slowed down how quickly it beat its wing: In air, the wings flap about 250 times per second; in water, they average about nine beats per second. Any faster than that, and the bot starts to tilt and twist and can even fall apart. The bot also needed help breaking through the water’s surface tension, so the researchers figured out how to give it a push with an electrical device that converts water into oxygen and hydrogen, plus a “sparker” that can ignite these gases. After 2 minutes, the gases build and make the bot buoyant enough to get its wings out of the water. Then the spark blows up the gases, and the bot shoots up about 35 centimeters at a speed of more than 2 meters per second, the researchers report today in Science Robotics. The bot can’t fly again until it dries out, but its design helps it glide to a safe landing. And though it’s unlikely to perform at Sea World, this versatile bot may one day help with ocean search and rescue, fish surveys, and environmental monitoring.

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Daily Nation

Technology will help farmers identify crop diseases and the nearest support system

AP

By BRIAN OKINDA

More by this Author
1 day ago

A team of scientists has developed a mobile phone application which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to accurately identify crop diseases in the field.

The app also delivers the latest advice to manage all major diseases and pests that affect root, tuber and banana crops, and helps farmers identify the nearest agricultural extension support for the farmers.

The project which is being implemented by a global network of scientists is part of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research’s (CGIAR) research programme on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB).

“As smartphones become more common in rural Africa, they also become handy in agricultural productivity.

“Smallholder farmers or extension officials having basic smartphones with a camera can download the application free of charge, run it up and point the camera at a leaf that has disease indications. They will then get an immediate diagnosis of the disease affecting the plant.” said Dr James Legg, a researcher at the (IITA), in Tanzania, who heads the project alongside Dr David Hughes of Penn State University.

Cassava brown streak and cassava mosaic diseases have for a long time been a threat to food security and income generation of over 30 million farmers in East and Central Africa.

Similarly, the region’s banana production is vulnerable to fungal and bacterial diseases such as the devastating banana bunchy top virus and while late blight which beleaguer potato farmers.

Rural farmers are often incapable of properly identifying these diseases, while researchers, plant health experts and extension officials lack the data to support them, hence the significance of this development.

The current app was developed to help identify cassava diseases, but the team of developers/researchers  was awarded Sh10 million in grants as part of CGIAR’s platform for Big Data in Agriculture Inspire Challenge in September, to help them expand the application to other root, tuber and banana crops that are key food sources.

This will in turn boost nutrition and income security for many farmers.

In the application’s initial development, careful fieldwork involving cameras, spectrophotometers and drones at cassava field sites in coastal Tanzania and on farms in western Kenya generated more than 200,000 images of diseased crops to train the system’s AI algorithms.

Using these images, the scientists advanced an AI process that is able to automatically classify five cassava diseases, and by involving tech company, Google, the team was able to develop the smartphone application using TensorFlow, an open-source software library for machine learning across a range of tasks.

The system is currently under field-test in Tanzania.

Penn State University has also developed a mobile spectrophotometer through a small firm called Croptix, whose initial results indicate it can accurately diagnose different viral diseases in the field, even when the plant looks healthy.

“The application similarly uses AI in real time so the farmer can be an active contributor in disease diagnosis and plant health management, hence more yields for smallholder farmers.

“It is similarly groundbreaking because our AI is based on research from scientists at CGIAR and RTB, who are among the world’s best human intelligence on African crops,” said Dr Hughes.

The team has established a working association with Vodafone’s agriculture SMS platform, DigiFarm, which will allow them to link digital diagnostics to largescale text messaging services used by rural farmers.

It will in turn deliver farmer-tailored SMS alerts on crop diseases and pests to 350,000 Kenyan farmers by July 2018.

 

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Machine Learning Helps Small Farmers Identify Plant Pests And Diseases

A new app aims to help smallholder farmers fight pests and diseases that are killing their crops.

Machine Learning Helps Small Farmers Identify Plant Pests And Diseases
[Photo: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg/Getty Images]

The world’s 500 million smallholder farmers have a new weapon in their never-ending fight against pests and plant diseases: an app called Plantix. By uploading pictures of affected crops to the mobile service, they can quickly diagnose unwanted funguses and insects and get ideas about how to deal with infestations before they get out of control. Three years after launch, the app is being used more than 1 million times a month, particularly in India, Brazil, and North Africa.

[Photo: courtesy Plantix]

In Africa, the current number-one enemy pest is the fall armyworm–so-called because it marches like an advanced military unit, eating everything in its path. The colorful caterpillars are munching through maize, sorghum, rice, and legume fields in 24 countries. If farmers don’t react in time–for example by spraying with the appropriate pesticides–economic losses could reach more than $5 billion this year, estimates show.The UN Food & Agricultural Organization says 20% to 40% of all global crops are lost each year because of plant pests and diseases that aren’t managed properly. Developed by a small team in Germany, Plantix offers guidance to farmers who don’t have the privilege of human consultants.

https://www.fastcompany.com/embed/uATcLOJZ?playerID=G2hQKLvX

“There’s a huge gap between agricultural consultancy and people’s needs on the ground in emerging countries,” says Korbinian Hartberger, one of four cofounders of PEAT, the startup that develops the free-to-use app. “There’s a lot more demand than what’s on offer. They can’t wait for someone to come along two months [after the infestation] and say, ‘yes, I think you should have sprayed this.’”

The Android interface is simple but makes use of sophisticated machine learning technology working in the background. PEAT has trained its algorithms using thousands of pictures of affected plants, allowing the app to recognize telltale patterns as farmers upload new pictures. They’re currently sending in about 5,000 pictures a day and the app is able to recognize up to 400 diseases or pests. The most common include soya bean and wheat rust, powdery and downy mildews, and aphids, Hartberger says.

As well as automated image recognition, the app also features community forums, where users help each other diagnose problems from uploaded photos. About 200,000 users are actively using the service, according to the startup.

PEAT was initially funded through a grant from the German government and it doesn’t generate revenue currently. Hartberger says that could change in the future. For instance, the system could be adapted for use in aerial drones or on-the-ground robots, or it could help connect farmers with sellers of agricultural products. Currently, it suggests generic pesticides, but not brand names.

“People may use more pesticides [after using the app], but they’re less likely to use the wrong pesticides. Our contribution is to smallholders with fast and reliable information, so they’re not just going to shop and asking the guy behind the counter for advice. It gives them something more specific they can work with,” Hartberger says.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

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USDA APHIS ITP’s web-based tool, Antkey

The team is pleased to announce the latest addition to our mobile app collection: Antkey Mobile. Developed in cooperation with the tool’s author, Eli Sarnat, and Australia’s Identic team, this app is based on ITP’s

Lucid Mobile apps offer you the identification keys you’ve come to rely on from the convenience of your smartphone or tablet. Antkey Mobile (free for Android or iOS) allows you to take your Lucid key with you into the field for surveys and screening, even if your field site lacks internet access.

This key allows both specialists and novices to easily identify invasive, introduced, and commonly intercepted ant species from across the globe. You can help confirm whether you have found the correct species by comparing your specimen with the images and descriptions on the fact sheets, which are included for each species.

Antkey Mobile is one of 13 apps ITP has developed for use in field identification of plant pests and diseases. Please visit http://idtools.org to see all of ITP’s apps or to learn more about ITP. For technical questions about Lucid Mobile, please contact Identic (enquiries@lucidcentral.org) or visit their website. For questions or comments about this or any of ITP’s other mobile apps, please contact Amanda Redford (itp@usda.gov).Antkey

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