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Archive for the ‘Pest damage’ Category

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

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

ENTOMOLOGY TODAY1 COMMENT

Lepidopteran pests of soybean—such as the green cloverworm (Hypena scabra), shown here—are growing in importance in the U.S., and a pair of articles in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management provides updated guidance on biology, distribution, and management options for five leading caterpillar pests of soybean. (Photo by Adam Varenhorst)

By Erin Hodgson, Ph.D., and Anders Huseth, Ph.D.

Anders Huseth, Ph.D.

Erin Hodgson, Ph.D.

There never seems to be a dull summer when you’re an extension entomologist of field crops. Like Coolio said, there is always “sumpin’ new” happening in agriculture. Fluctuating pest populations and invasive species make our jobs interesting. Add in new chemistries and technology updates, and it’s hard to keep up with everything.

When a pest does establish and become a problem, we want to provide accurate identification and timely management recommendations. Unfortunately, many of our tried-and-true resources are becoming out of date. New extension folks have been especially frustrated by a lack of current resources. In particular, there is not enough current information on caterpillars feeding in soybean, though these pests are becoming more economically important in the U.S. and around the world. So, a few of us decided to create an update for some of the most prominent species in U.S. soybean. We represent five states spread across the nation: Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, and North Carolina.

caterpillar pests of soybean
corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea)
thistle caterpillar (Vanessa cardui)

To start, we surveyed field crop entomologists in all soybean-growing states to better understand current pest occurrence and abundance in soybean (approximately 83 million acres). We compiled data from all 31 soybean-producing states during the winter of 2020. Data indicated five species that consistently bubbled to the top of the list: green cloverworm (Hypena scabra), soybean looper (Chrysodeixis includens), corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea), velvetbean caterpillar (Anticarsia gemmatalis), and painted lady (Vanessa cardui, also known as thistle caterpillar in its larval form).

After summarizing survey information, we decided to write profiles on these species to improve identification, distribution, and scouting guidelines. Our group used older research and recent field observations to develop profiles of these key pests. Last, we wanted to focus on management, especially highlighting insecticide resistance issues starting to become prominent in some states. The results of this work are shared in two articles published earlier this year in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management—one on identification and biology and another on distribution and population persistence—with a third article still in the works.

Results from our survey provide a contemporary assessment of distribution and persistence of lepidopterans in soybean. Like the aforementioned rap artist says, field crop extension entomology is a “fantastic voyage,” and we hope the articles help provide updated information for caterpillar identification and management.

Read More

Identification and Biology of Common Caterpillars in U.S. Soybean

Current Distribution and Population Persistence of Five Lepidopteran Pests in U.S. Soybean

Journal of Integrated Pest Management

Erin Hodgson, Ph.D., is a professor and extension entomologist at Iowa State University. Email: ewh@iastate.eduAnders Huseth, Ph.D., is an assistant professor and extension specialist at North Carolina State University. Email: ashuseth@ncsu.edu.

Soybean Gall Midge: Discovery of a Delicate and Destructive New Species

March 9, 2021

New Guide Offers IPM Tips for Japanese Beetles in Soy and Corn

April 29, 2019

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

February 1, 2021

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The Conversation

The fall armyworm invasion is fierce this year – and scientists are researching how to stop its destruction of lawns, football fields and crops

September 17, 2021 8.15am EDT

Author

  1. Scott D. StewartProfessor of Entomology and Director of the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center, University of Tennessee

Disclosure statement

Scott D. Stewart’s research and extension programs at the University of Tennessee are partially supported by grants and contracts from Tennessee cotton, corn and soybean commodity boards, the USDA, and from various seed and pesticide companies for evaluation of their technologies.

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Across the Northeast, Midwest, South and Southwest United States, homeowners are watching with horror as their lawns turn from green to brown, sometimes in less than 48 hours, and wondering, “What happened this year – and how did it happen so fast?”

The culprit: the fall armyworm.

As an entomologist, I can attest that their appearance is nothing new: They’re an annual problem, but the scale of this year’s invasion is unprecedented. These voracious feeders are destroying lawns and grasses, attacking golf courses, pastures, football and soccer fields – and they can completely defoliate rice, soybean, alfalfa and other crop fields within days. They are called armyworms because of their habit of marching across the landscape.

The invader

The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, isn’t a worm. It’s a striped caterpillar, the larvae of an ordinary and benign brown moth. It’s native to the Americas and is extremely adaptable, thriving everywhere from lush forests to arid regions and in pristine, disturbed and urban landscapes.

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The armyworms’ impact on lawn grass can be dramatic. Scott D. Stewart, Author provided

This moth survives year-round in warmer locales, from the tip of South America to the southern U.S. Each year they invade more northern regions until cold weather ends their occupation.

From larvae to moth, its entire life cycle is about 30 days during the summer and 60 in spring and fall. Adult moths survive just two weeks. During that time, a female lays up to 2,000 eggs, deposited underneath leaves in clusters of 100 to 200.

The moths aren’t the problem; it’s their larvae. When eggs first hatch, the tiny caterpillars are barely noticeable, about one-sixteenth of an inch long. By the time the caterpillars reach full size – an inch and a half – they’ve become ravenous eaters.During its short life cycle, the fall armyworm can devastate important crops.

Depending on the season, the armyworms eat and grow for 14 to 30 days. Initially, they chew holes in leaves, sometimes reducing them to a lacework skeleton. If they run out of food, they become cannibals, with the larger armyworms preying on the smaller ones.

Then they burrow into the ground, encase themselves in a cocoon and pupate. When they emerge as moths, the cycle repeats, with the next generation propelling their expansion across the country.

An invasive species

Meanwhile, fall armyworms have spread across the globe as an invasive species, reaching the Near East, Asia, Australia, Africa and India. Without its native complement of parasites, predators and diseases to control it, these rapacious caterpillars pose a serious agricultural threat to these newly invaded countries.

Farming practices have fueled their proliferation. Most of these countries do not grow armyworm-resistant GMO crops and many have limited access to newer insecticides and modern application equipment.

Armyworms have been particularly destructive in sub-Saharan Africa, where they devour maize, the continent’s staple crop. Damage is estimated at US$2 billion per year. It also causes major damage to corn, rice, sorghum, sugar cane, vegetable crops and cotton.

This year’s ‘perfect storm’

Entomologist David Kerns sounded the alarm in June, warning that armyworms in Texas were bad and heading north and east. They’d gotten off to an early start, aided by good weather in their winter home range.

Once the moths are on the move, they leave their natural enemies behind, taking their new territories by surprise. They can migrate hundreds of miles, riding the winds to reinfest the northern part of their domain. But with an early start this year, they rode the winds farther than normal. By the end of August, much of the southern U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains had suffered serious assault, akin to a plague of locusts.

An adult armyworm moth (genus Spodoptera) Scott D. Stewart, Author provided
Newly hatched armyworms. Scott D. Stewart, Author provided

How do we control the invasion?

There are two ways to deal with an infestation: Wait it out, or fight. For those concerned about lawns, waiting may be the answer. Armyworms don’t feast on all grasses, and a well-established lawn will often recover, though it may not look great for a while. However, armyworms particularly love freshly laid sod, which may sustain irreparable damage.

Waiting it out isn’t an option for farmers. Applying insecticides is the only way to save crops, which may prove difficult as pandemic-fueled disruptions have left some insecticides in short supply. Success is a numbers game: Killing 80% of a group of 100 armyworms controls them, but with larger numbers of armyworms, killing 80% still means many crops will be devastated.

Some evidence also suggests that fall armyworms may be developing more resistance to certain insecticides, and it wouldn’t be the first time. This pest is infamous for developing resistance to the insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis produced by genetically modified crops. My colleague Juan Luis Jurat-Fuentes is trying to understand how the fall armyworm becomes resistant to Bt toxins in Bt corn and cotton.

His work is also revealing how insecticidal protein-resistant armyworms are spreading their genes across the Americas. We are currently collaborating on a project using gene silencing to help control outbreaks of fall armyworm. The technique can turn off specific genes, including those that make the fall armyworm resistant to insecticides. The goal is to develop extremely specific and effective insecticides that have minimal impact on the environment and other wildlife species.

Fall armyworm on damaged corn. ossyugioh/Getty Images

The cost – and the future

The economic costs of fall armyworm invasions are high. This year alone they have preyed upon millions of acres of crops, hayfields, lawns and turfgrass. Farmers, homeowners and businesses have spent tens of millions of dollars on insecticide applications. Some farms have suffered major crop losses.

The battle is not quite over. It will continue for a few more weeks as the fall armyworm continues to spread farther north and east.

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Was this “year of the armyworm” a fluke? Will they be back? The answer to both questions is probably yes. We don’t know why fall armyworms started off en masse in 2021, but the extreme infestations were hopefully a rare anomaly. There is concern, however, that a warming climate will allow these and other subtropical and tropical insects to expand their territories northward.

We do know that armyworms will reinvade much of the Southern U.S. every year as they always have, and northern states should expect more frequent incursions from insect neighbors to the south.

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Tomato fruits send electrical warnings to the rest of the plant when attacked

A recent study in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems shows that the fruits of a type of tomato plant send electrical signals to the rest of the plant when they are infested by caterpillars. Plants have a multitude of chemical and hormonal signaling pathways, which are generally transmitted through the sap (the nutrient-rich water that moves through the plant). In the case of fruits, nutrients flow exclusively to the fruit and there has been little research into whether there is any communication in the opposite direction–i.e. from fruit to plant.

“We usually forget that a plant’s fruits are living and semiautonomous parts of their mother plants, far more complex than we currently think. Since fruits are part of the plant, made of the same tissues of the leaves and stems, why couldn’t they communicate with the plant, informing it about what they are experiencing, just like regular leaves do?” says first author Dr. Gabriela Niemeyer Reissig, of the Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil. “What we found is that fruits can share important information such as caterpillar attacks–which is a serious issue for a plant–with the rest of the plant, and that can probably prepare other parts of the plant for the same attack.”

To test the hypothesis that fruits communicate by electrical signals, Niemeyer Reissig and her collaborators placed tomato plants in a Faraday cage with electrodes at the ends of the branches connecting the fruits to the plant. They then measured the electrical responses before, during and after the fruits had been attacked by Helicoverpa armigera caterpillars for 24 hours. The team also used machine learning to identify patterns in the signals.

The results showed a clear difference between the signals before and after attack. In addition, the authors measured the biochemical responses, such as defensive chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, across other parts of the plant. This showed that these defenses were triggered even in parts of the plant that were far away from the damage caused by the caterpillars.

Read the complete article at www.eurekalert.org.

Reissig Gabriela Niemeyer, Oliveira Thiago Francisco de Carvalho, Oliveira Ricardo Padilha de, Posso Douglas Antônio, Parise André Geremia, Nava Dori Edson, Souza Gustavo Maia, “Fruit Herbivory Alters Plant Electrome: Evidence for Fruit-Shoot Long-Distance Electrical Signaling in Tomato Plants” Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 5 (2001) DOI=10.3389/fsufs.2021.657401 https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fsufs.2021.657401

Publication date: Mon 9 Aug 2021

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Jun 26, 2021 – Energy & Environment

West coast drought leads to grasshopper plague

Oriana Gonzalez

Picture taken up-close of a grasshopper

Photo: Edwin Remsberg/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

As the Southwest remains stuck in the most intense drought of the 21st century, a plague of grasshoppers has emerged, threatening farmers’ rangelands, AP reports.

Driving the news: The Department of Agriculture has responded by launching an extermination campaign against grasshoppers, the largest since the 1980s. Authorities have started to spray thousands of square miles with pesticide to kill immature grasshopper before they become adults.

  • But, but, but: Some environmentalists worry the pesticides could kill other insects, including grasshopper predators and struggling species such as monarch butterflies, AP notes.
  • The USDA said it would spray rangelands in sections to prevent other insect wildlife from being affected by the pesticide.

State of play: The USDA released a grasshopper hazard map that shows some areas have more than 15 grasshoppers per square yard in Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska.

Why it matters: “Left unaddressed, federal officials said the agricultural damage from grasshoppers could become so severe it could drive up beef and crop prices,” AP writes.

What they’re saying: “Drought and grasshoppers go together and they are cleaning us out,” Frank Wiederrick, a farmer in Montana, told AP.

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science daily

Nanosensor can alert a smartphone when plants are stressed

Carbon nanotubes embedded in leaves detect chemical signals that are produced when a plant is damaged

Date:
April 15, 2020
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
Engineers can closely track how plants respond to stresses such as injury, infection, and light damage using sensors made of carbon nanotubes. These sensors can be embedded in plant leaves, where they report on hydrogen peroxide levels.
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MIT engineers have developed a way to closely track how plants respond to stresses such as injury, infection, and light damage, using sensors made of carbon nanotubes. These sensors can be embedded in plant leaves, where they report on hydrogen peroxide signaling waves.

Plants use hydrogen peroxide to communicate within their leaves, sending out a distress signal that stimulates leaf cells to produce compounds that will help them repair damage or fend off predators such as insects. The new sensors can use these hydrogen peroxide signals to distinguish between different types of stress, as well as between different species of plants.

“Plants have a very sophisticated form of internal communication, which we can now observe for the first time. That means that in real-time, we can see a living plant’s response, communicating the specific type of stress that it’s experiencing,” says Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT.

This kind of sensor could be used to study how plants respond to different types of stress, potentially helping agricultural scientists develop new strategies to improve crop yields. The researchers demonstrated their approach in eight different plant species, including spinach, strawberry plants, and arugula, and they believe it could work in many more.

Strano is the senior author of the study, which appears today in Nature Plants. MIT graduate student Tedrick Thomas Salim Lew is the lead author of the paper.

Embedded sensors

Over the past several years, Strano’s lab has been exploring the potential for engineering “nanobionic plants” — plants that incorporate nanomaterials that give the plants new functions, such as emitting light or detecting water shortages. In the new study, he set out to incorporate sensors that would report back on the plants’ health status.

Strano had previously developed carbon nanotube sensors that can detect various molecules, including hydrogen peroxide. About three years ago, Lew began working on trying to incorporate these sensors into plant leaves. Studies in Arabidopsis thaliana, often used for molecular studies of plants, had suggested that plants might use hydrogen peroxide as a signaling molecule, but its exact role was unclear.

Lew used a method called lipid exchange envelope penetration (LEEP) to incorporate the sensors into plant leaves. LEEP, which Strano’s lab developed several years ago, allows for the design of nanoparticles that can penetrate plant cell membranes. As Lew was working on embedding the carbon nanotube sensors, he made a serendipitous discovery.

“I was training myself to get familiarized with the technique, and in the process of the training I accidentally inflicted a wound on the plant. Then I saw this evolution of the hydrogen peroxide signal,” he says.

He saw that after a leaf was injured, hydrogen peroxide was released from the wound site and generated a wave that spread along the leaf, similar to the way that neurons transmit electrical impulses in our brains. As a plant cell releases hydrogen peroxide, it triggers calcium release within adjacent cells, which stimulates those cells to release more hydrogen peroxide.

“Like dominos successively falling, this makes a wave that can propagate much further than a hydrogen peroxide puff alone would,” Strano says. “The wave itself is powered by the cells that receive and propagate it.”

This flood of hydrogen peroxide stimulates plant cells to produce molecules called secondary metabolites, such as flavonoids or carotenoids, which help them to repair the damage. Some plants also produce other secondary metabolites that can be secreted to fend off predators. These metabolites are often the source of the food flavors that we desire in our edible plants, and they are only produced under stress.

A key advantage of the new sensing technique is that it can be used in many different plant species. Traditionally, plant biologists have done much of their molecular biology research in certain plants that are amenable to genetic manipulation, including Arabidopsis thaliana and tobacco plants. However, the new MIT approach is applicable to potentially any plant.

“In this study, we were able to quickly compare eight plant species, and you would not be able to do that with the old tools,” Strano says.

The researchers tested strawberry plants, spinach, arugula, lettuce, watercress, and sorrel, and found that different species appear to produce different waveforms — the distinctive shape produced by mapping the concentration of hydrogen peroxide over time. They hypothesize that each plant’s response is related to its ability to counteract the damage. Each species also appears to respond differently to different types of stress, including mechanical injury, infection, and heat or light damage.

“This waveform holds a lot of information for each species, and even more exciting is that the type of stress on a given plant is encoded in this waveform,” Strano says. “You can look at the real time response that a plant experiences in almost any new environment.”

Stress response

The near-infrared fluorescence produced by the sensors can be imaged using a small infrared camera connected to a Raspberry Pi, a $35 credit-card-sized computer similar to the computer inside a smartphone. “Very inexpensive instrumentation can be used to capture the signal,” Strano says.

Applications for this technology include screening different species of plants for their ability to resist mechanical damage, light, heat, and other forms of stress, Strano says. It could also be used to study how different species respond to pathogens, such as the bacteria that cause citrus greening and the fungus that causes coffee rust.

“One of the things I’m interested in doing is understanding why some types of plants exhibit certain immunity to these pathogens and others don’t,” he says.

Strano and his colleagues in the Disruptive and Sustainable Technology for Agricultural Precision interdisciplinary research group at the MIT-Singapore Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), MIT’s research enterprise in Singapore, are also interested in studying is how plants respond to different growing conditions in urban farms.

One problem they hope to address is shade avoidance, which is seen in many species of plants when they are grown at high density. Such plants turn on a stress response that diverts their resources into growing taller, instead of putting energy into producing crops. This lowers the overall crop yield, so agricultural researchers are interested in engineering plants so that don’t turn on that response.

“Our sensor allows us to intercept that stress signal and to understand exactly the conditions and the mechanism that are happening upstream and downstream in the plant that gives rise to the shade avoidance,” Strano says.

The research was funded by the National Research Foundation of Singapore, the Singapore Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR), and the U.S. Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship Program.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Original written by Anne Trafton. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tedrick Thomas Salim Lew, Volodymyr B. Koman, Kevin S. Silmore, Jun Sung Seo, Pavlo Gordiichuk, Seon-Yeong Kwak, Minkyung Park, Mervin Chun-Yi Ang, Duc Thinh Khong, Michael A. Lee, Mary B. Chan-Park, Nam-Hai Chua, Michael S. Strano. Real-time detection of wound-induced H2O2 signalling waves in plants with optical nanosensors. Nature Plants, 2020; 6 (4): 404 DOI: 10.1038/s41477-020-0632-4

Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Nanosensor can alert a smartphone when plants are stressed: Carbon nanotubes embedded in leaves detect chemical signals that are produced when a plant is damaged.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200415133512.htm>.

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inra_site_metaprogrammes-logo

International Conference on Global Crop Losses Caused by Diseases, Pests, and Weeds

An international conference on global crop losses was organized by Inra in Paris on three days (October 16 – 18, 2017).  The aim of this conference was to assess how plant diseases, pests, and weeds negatively affect crop health, crop performances, ecosystems and society. Although these negative impacts are well recognized, their quantification is still fragmented or incomplete.

Septoria tritici sur feuille de blé.. © INRA, SIMON J.C.
Updated on 01/23/2018
Published on 11/07/2017

The conference brought together key players in global agricultural and crop health research in order to explore and discuss opportunities related to analyzing, quantifying, and modelling crop losses to diseases and pests.The conference involved some 80 participants from 20 countries.

  • NEW : the final report is available HERE

The event was organized by INRA, through its Flagship Meta-Programs SMaCH (Sustainable Management of Crop Health) and GloFoodS (Transitions to Global Food Security), in partnership with Cirad and the ISPP  and support from the international networks AGMiP and MacSur. See details below.

Key questions addressed by the conference were:

  • What are the effects of diseases, pests, and weeds, on crop performances?
  • How can we understand, quantify, assess, and model these effects?
  • How and what can modelling contribute in the assessment of the impacts of diseases, pests, and weeds, especially on food security?
  • What could be the effects of climate and global changes on crop losses caused by plant diseases, pests, and weeds?

Eight keynotes were presented to address different aspects of crop loss quantification, modelling, and understanding:

  • Impacts of disease and pest crop losses on crop yields and agrosystem performances (K. J. Boote, University of Florida, USA)
    > See the slide show here.
  • Overview of approaches to quantify and model disease and pest losses (S. Savary, INRA, France)
    > See the slide show here.
  • Economic implications of disease and pest losses – modelling and analytical approaches (J. Antle, Oregon State University, USA)
    > See the slide show here.
  • Plant diseases in a changing climate, approaches to assess and estimate future crop risks (A. Von Tiedemann, University of Göttingen, Germany)
    > See the slide show here.
  • Pests and diseases data in the context of yield gaps – the Global Yield Gap Atlas (M. van Ittersum, Wageningen University, The Netherlands)
    > See the slide show here.
  • Linking crops with pests and diseases (K. C. Kersebaum, ZALF, Germany)
    > See the slide show here.
  • Past and ongoing experiences in developing open source online scientific data bases (A. Nelson, University of Twente, The Netherlands and J. Koo, IFPRI, USA)
    > See the slide show here.
  • Importance of disease and pest losses on key world crops – priorities (L. Willocquet, INRA, France)
    > See the slide show here.

> See the extended abstracts here.

These keynotes provided the background for three work groups, which addressed the themes of “Crop Loss Definition”, “Models for Crop Losses”, and “Data: Sources and Sharing”. Work conducted in each of these work groups will lead to a series of reports, including a white paper on crop loss data ontology.

Contact(s)
Scientific contact(s):

On the subject of

The event was organized by INRA, through its Flagship Meta-Programs SMaCH (Sustainable Management of Crop Health) and GloFoodS (Transitions to Global Food Security). The conference was organized in partnership with Cirad and the ISPP (International Society of Plant Pathology), and support from the international networks AGMiP http://www.agmip.org/ and MacSur.

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hindu business

TN’s hill banana plantations wilt under elephant, viral attacks

A bunch of Hill banana grown in Dindigul, Tamil Nadu

Animal menace, inadequate insurance cover have resulted in shrinking acreage of the fruit

Kochi, April 20

Rampaging wild elephants coupled with Bunchy Top Banana (BTB) disease have hit Hill Banana growers in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu.

Found only in the Palani Hills of Dindigul, hill banana — locally called ‘Virupakshi’ — is a highly remunerative crop that can be harvested in 18-36 months .

This specific variety has a commercial importance and it caters only to Chennai market with a sales of around 50,000 fruits per day in the price range of 60-80/kg, said TVSN Veera Arasu, Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Hill Banana Growers Federation.

However, wild elephants straying into the fields in search of food and water have wrought havoc in several areas, causing financial loss to farmers.

The hill banana crop is the livelihood of farmers in 29 villages in the region.

But without any adequate insurance protection available, farmers are starved of funds to start the next crop.

“I have lost around 40 lakh in the last season due to the damage caused by wild elephants in my farm. Majority of the farmers here are scared to come back to banana cultivation,” he said.

Acreage down

Arasu, who was in Kochi recently to attend the farmers conclave organised by the Kerala Farmers Federation, told BusinessLine that the banana acreage has also come down to 3,000 acres compared to 16,000 acres five years back.

The threat of damage discourages new entrants to take up banana cultivation.

“To control the elephant menace, we have an assurance from the authorities to set up trenches and solar fencing for crop protection,” he said.

“We have successfully controlled BTB disease in the early 2000 with the help of Tamil Nadu Agriculture University. As the virus started attacking the plants again, we have approached the National Research Centre for Banana, Tiruchi, along with TNAU for remedial measures”, he said.

Highly remunerative

Among all the plantation crops, hill banana is the only crop which provides a weekly income to farmers, whereas remuneration from all other crops was on annual basis.

The Federation has been successful in obtaining GI certification for Virupakshi and Sirumalai — the two varieties of Hill Banana — a favourite fruit during the British period.

The famous Panchamritham in Palani Temple is made out of Virupakshi banana, the pulp of which is the main ingredient, he added.

 

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Radio New Zealand

29 Mar 2018

Onion crop slashed by disease

6:30 pm on 29 March 2018

The country’s onion crop has been slashed by at least 20 percent because of humid weather which resulted in a leaf disease.

Onions

Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

The harvest period is wrapping up for the season, and Onions New Zealand chief executive Michael Ahern said it had been a mixed bag for growers.

The main problem was a leaf blight called ‘Stemphylium’ which has damaged the plants, he said.

No caption

Michael Ahern Photo: Supplied

 

“We’ve had some difficulties in a number of the growing areas … to that end we ran a crop forecast survey recently and we could be down by around 20 percent on yield … even that could be increased by quality issues at packing time.”

The onion industry commissioned Plant and Food Research to find out more about the disease, and this report has been sent to growers.

This year is the worst case of the leaf blight that anyone in the industry can remember, he said.

“No one can recall an attack by this particular fungus to this extent … so that does point potentially to, not a new pathogen, but more changing climate conditions.”

The industry would pour its resources and expertise into finding solutions, Mr Ahern said.

Potato growers also have poor season

Potato growers have also had a tough season – with water shortages, scorching temperatures, and several large storms.

No caption

Chris Claridge said there was increasing evidence that farmers were being directly impacted by climate change. Photo: Supplied

Potatoes New Zealand chief executive Chris Claridge said it was a clear link to climate change.

“What we’re seeing is a direct impact on farmers’ ability to plant and harvest potatoes, which is directly impacted on their profitability, and on our ability to generate export receipts.”

January was the hottest month on record, and that combined with several large cyclones had directly hit farmers in the pocket.

“We’re seeing increasing evidence that farmers are being directly impacted by climate change, and we now have to start the conversation about climate change and how we manage it going forward,” Mr Claridge said.

The key issue was how to make growers and farmers more resilient, he said.

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Newswise

Queen’s Researcher Develops Interactive Map Which Shows How the Irish Potato Famine Transformed Ireland

Released: 12-Mar-2018 2:00 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: Queen’s University Belfast

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    Newswise — A researcher from Queen’s University Belfast has developed an interactive map of the island of Ireland which shows the impact the Great Irish Famine had on the population during the nineteenth century.

    The map is part of a broader research project, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council entitled ‘The Causes and Consequences of the Great Irish Famine’, led by Dr Alan Fernihough, Lecturer in Economics from Queen’s Management School to examine both the contributing factors and outcomes of the famine.

    The Great Irish Famine, or the Irish Potato Famine as it also known, was arguably the single greatest disaster in Irish history, lasting from approximately 1845 – 1851. The main cause of the famine was the failure of the potato crop for successive years, which resulted in mass starvation and death from sickness and malnutrition.

    Dr Fernihough analysed a wide number of contemporary data sources, including the 1841 and 1851 Census of Ireland and the Poor Law Commissioner’s reports, in order to compile the repository showing the impact the famine had on the different civil parish areas.

    Talking about the findings from the study, Dr Fernihough said: “As expected, we found from the research that the population dramatically decreased after the famine due to the high number of deaths and high levels of people emigrating.

    “However, we also found that in the larger city areas, the population increased post-famine. Cities such as Belfast, Dublin, and Cork increased in population size as people from the rural areas migrated into the larger cities in search of employment opportunities and relief institutions like the workhouse and fever hospitals.”

    Ireland’s population is believed to have fallen from approximately 8.5 million to just over 6 million during the period of famine, with an estimated one million people dying and over one and a half million emigrating to Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia.

    Dr Fernihough added: “The devastating effect of the Great Famine on the Irish population is well known. However, the uneven spatial distribution of the famine’s impact is given less attention. For example, the population of the parishes surrounding Galway city fell by around 40 per cent, whereas the population of the parish containing Galway city actually rose by 15 per cent. In some areas along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, for example, the parish of Lackan in County Mayo, the population fell by as much at 60 per cent.”

    The map is the first interactive tool of its kind to combine these demographic, social, and economic data sets in any easy to use mobile-friendly website.

    “The website will be of interest to anyone looking to find out more about the Irish Famine. It’s not just about population loss, the website contains information on the impact of the famine on the proportion of families in poor housing, agriculture, alongside information on literacy. It is a piece of history that you can touch.

    “You can use the location services on your mobile phone to find out the impact of the famine wherever you are located in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, something that would be of particular interest to tourists,” comments Dr Fernihough.

    To find out more about the project and the interactive map, please visit: https://irishfamineproject.com/

    ENDS…

    1. Dr Alan Fernihough, Lecturer in Economics from Queen’s Management School is available for interview. Bids to Zara McBrearty at Queen’s Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 3259 or email: z.mcbrearty@qub.ac.uk

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    Xinhua

     
    By Ejidiah Wangui NAIROBI (Xinhua) — Kenyan farmer Geoffrey Koech was staring at his ten-acre maize plantation shortly before the harvest with regret and bewilderment, aware that his investment had gone down the drain due to armyworm infestation.

    “We are staring into a disaster,” he told Xinhua in a recent interview as hired labourers geared up to clear the corn that had retarded due to attack by the voracious pest

    Koech’s farm located 159 km southwest of Nairobi was invaded by the fall armyworm (FAW) a few months ago and his efforts to salvage a portion of the farm from the fast-spreading pest were futile.

    He now faces tough days ahead as farming is his only source of income.

    The pests have caught many farmers like Koech by surprise, leaving a trail of destruction that is expected to trickle down to millions of households across Kenya that rely on corn as their staple food.

    “It all started like a joke, during one of my tours around the farm, I noticed some of the plants had been attacked but I thought it is the usual worms that we deal with here. Within two weeks, I couldn’t believe my eyes as most of the plants had been attacked. I tried using pesticides but it was too late,” said Koech.

    He had only heard about the FAW invasion in neighboring Uganda but never thought anything of the sort could strike closer home.

    As small-holder farmers like Koech ponder on their next move, Kenya as a country stares at a 20 to 25-percent drop in maize yields in 2017, further complicating the situation as the East African nation is still reeling from the harsh effects of drought.

    According to the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), the caterpillar could cause maize losses costing 12 African countries up to 6.1 billion U.S. dollars per annum, unless control methods are urgently put in place.

    The FAW which was previously reported in Western Kenya has now spread to other regions such as Kwale County in the Coast.

    In its latest “evidence note” report on the FAW, CABI said the caterpillar has the potential to cause maize yield losses ranging from 8.3 to 20.6 million tonnes per annum, in the absence of any control methods, in just 12 of Africa’s maize-producing countries.

    According to the report, FAW should be expected to spread throughout suitable habitats in mainland sub-Saharan Africa within the next few cropping seasons.

    Northern Africa and Madagascar are also at risk. In September, 28 countries in Africa confirmed presence of the pest, compared to only 12 five months earlier.

    A further nine countries have conducted or are presently conducting surveys, and either strongly suspect its presence or are awaiting official confirmation.

    According to Roger Day, CABI’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Coordinator, to avert the looming food crisis, affected nations need to come up with an integrated approach to deal with the crisis.

    “Work must also start to assess which crop varieties can resist or tolerate FAW. In the longer run, national policies should promote lower risk control options through short-term subsidies and rapid assessment and registration of bio pesticides and biological control products,” Day said.

    Immediate recommendations in the report include raising awareness on FAW symptoms, early detection and control, and the creation and communication of a list of recommended, regulated pesticides.

    “If I was well informed on what to look out for and what to do when I discovered the first worm, I believe I could have saved close to a quarter of my farm from being invaded,” said Koech.

    In July, Kenya’s Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett expressed concern over the FAW invasion saying the country’s food security was at stake as production in 2017 is forecast to drop by 9 million bags.

    The worm, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is native to the Americas but there is no documented evidence to indicate how it crossed oceans to land in Africa.

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