Archive for the ‘Pests’ Category

Iran’s battle against migratory desert locusts successful

Mehr News Agency

Iran's battle against migratory desert locusts successful

TEHRAN, May 23 (MNA) – Director of the Plant Protection Organization of Iran, has said that the country has successfully repelled two swarms of desert locusts so far through taking necessary measures.

“So far, there have been two attacks by deserts locusts invading the country, which have been repelled and the country’s farms have not been damaged,” the head of the Plant Protection Organization of the I.R. Iran, Keikhosrow Changlvaei, said. 

He added, “Of course, the danger has not been eliminated yet and according to the reports of international organizations, in July and November of this year, the country will be exposed to the swarms of desert locusts again.”

“Desert locusts are originated from Saudi Arabia, the Indian subcontinent, and the Horn of Africa, and from these areas they move towards other countries, including Iran, in order to find suitable food and soil,” said Changlvaei.

The Chairman of the Plant Protection Organization added that these locusts have been fought well in the countries of their origin and the sizes of their dangers have been lowered.

Changlvaei added that Iran has prepared for fighting this pest, underlining that “We are ready in terms of facilities, pesticide, and well-trained personnel.”

He also said that his organization also receives help from the country’s military in the fight against migratory desert locusts.

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food tank

Virginia Tech Research Explores Climate Change and the Future of Food in Nepal

When you think of Nepal, you might imagine people climbing Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain above sea level. However, people aren’t the only ones scaling the vast and varied elevations of the Southeast Asian country—so are invasive weeds.

Recent research from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management (IPM Innovation Lab) shows that invasive weeds have rapidly spread over time in Nepal. One of the major push factors of this spread is climate change. As Nepal’s temperature is projected to increase significantly in the next 50 years, invasive species are spreading more rapidly, which puts at risk crop production, livelihoods, biodiversity, and food security.

“The basis of our research includes looking at how invasive weeds spread along elevations under past and current climate scenarios,” said Pramod K. Jha, Professor Emeritus at Tribhuvan University in Nepal, which implements the project locally. “We use satellite images to capture these changes throughout the Chitwan Annapurna Landscape in central Nepal. Making observations about how our land changes over time is crucial for identifying vulnerable areas and developing strategies to address them.”

Jha noted that of the seven invasive weeds the project tracks, all but one has dramatically increased in spread over the last 30 years—and they will continue to spread if no mitigation efforts are made.

One of those weeds, for example, is Parthenium hysterophorus. Under future climate scenarios, its range is expected to expand significantly in all regions of the Chitwan Annapurna Landscape (CHAL). The weed, native to the New World, causes human health issues such as rashes and respiratory difficulty, taints livestock milk, and disrupts valuable farmland. With the weed’s habitat suitability projected to expand into protected areas including Langtang National Park, Annapurna Conservation Area, and Manaslu Conservation Area, valuable biodiversity is at stake.

Ageratina adenophora, also known as Crofton weed, is another invasive species the program studies. Crofton weed reduces crop yields, displaces native plants, and affects the carrying capacity of grazing lands. Under future climate scenarios, the program has predicted the weed will expand its elevational range and all regions except the Middle Mountain region are expected to gain suitable areas in which the weed will expand its reach.

Invasive species are capable of quickly adapting to climatic changes, hence their ability to push native species out. Muni Muniappan, Director of the IPM Innovation Lab, said that central Nepal’s ecological richness—unique biodiversity hotspots and topography, subtropical to alpine climates, elevations that range from 200-8091m above sea level—is both what makes it an ideal place to study climate change impacts as well as what puts it most at risk of climate change impacts.

“All of the invasive weeds this program studies are originally sub-tropical and tropical in nature,” Muniappan said, “so they initially invaded tropical zones of Nepal, such as the lowlands. Now, however, we are seeing them gradually spread to new habitats, like the mountains. This is especially detrimental because the mountains house some of the most resource-poor communities in Nepal. These communities heavily rely on natural resources, so these consequences of climate change will have a disproportionate impact.”

One of those threatened resources is finger millet, Nepal’s fourth most important crop. Considered a “poor man’s crop,” remote mountain communities of the country depend on finger millet because it can grow in rain-fed, subsistence farming conditions. Communities also rely on it as an important source of protein, fiber, calcium, and iron. The Virginia Tech-Tribhuvan University program measured that nearly 40 percent of area of Nepal is highly suitable for finger millet, but under future climatic conditions, where invasive weeds will be more widespread, the suitable area of finger millet would shrink by 4 to almost 9 percent in 2050 and nearly 9 to 10.5 percent by 2070. Because of the climate crisis and its resulting impacts, mountain communities that rely on this crop may be in even greater danger of food insecurity.

As climate change persists, developing countries stand to lose the most from its impacts, including the rampant spread of invasive species. Among 124 countries, Nepal has the third highest threat to agriculture sectors from invasive species spread. While the IPM Innovation Lab measures invasive species spread, it also aims to improve resiliency against them. One such approach is implementation of “IPM packages,” or suites of holistic techniques farmers can choose from to address crop threats. Application of biocontrol, for example, is one IPM package component that could safely and economically mitigate the spread of the invasive Parthenium weed.

“Sustainably addressing climate change and its impacts remains a top priority of the IPM Innovation Lab,” said Muniappan. “Through modeling invasive species spread, we gain early knowledge on their projected pathways, but this information also gives us valuable insight for designing the most productive measures for managing their spread. This is only the beginning – an important aspect of this work is garnering the interest of other institutes, organizations, and universities as well. Fighting climate change and its impacts requires a united effort.”

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management currently works in seven countries in Asia and Africa on a range of topics, including improving food security, increasing farmer income, gender equality in development, among others. Since its inception in 1993, it has been housed at Virginia Tech’s Center for International Research, Education, and Development.TweetShareShare

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Sara Hendery
Sara Hendery

 Sara Hendery is a Communications Coordinator for the USAID-funded Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management and the Center for International Research, Education, and Development, both housed at Virginia Tech. Hendery earned a BFA in English and Creative Writing from UNC Wilmington and an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago.

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Japanese Beetle Resistant Roses

May 15, 2021Blaine HowertonGardens & Landscapes0

Photo by Chris F from Pexels

Rita Jokerst, Horticulturist, Gardens on Spring Creek

Japanese beetles are the scorn of any rose gardener, and we at the Gardens on Spring Creek are disappointed to report these pests are officially here in the Northern Colorado area. These concerning beetles do not just target rose gardens – they attack a wide variety of landscape, edible, and ornamental plants as they damage plants in two different ways. 

The larvae (or grubs) feed on the roots of turfgrass, thereby producing drought-stress symptoms in large swathes of off-color, unhealthy-looking lawn. The grubs’ presence in turn attracts further damage by other critters. Skunks, raccoons, and many birds will dig into lawns infested with Japanese beetle larvae to feed upon them. Secondly, the highly mobile adults damage plants above ground, chewing on the leaves and flowers of many, many plants. So, what preemptive actions can a gardener take against these pests? Follow the data and plant wisely!

In 2016 and 2017, Colorado State University Professor Whitney Cranshaw evaluated Japanese beetle damage on roses at the War Memorial Garden in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of a growing season, seven observations were made and included beetle damage, ranked on a scale of 0-3 (no damage to heavy damage) and flower visitation by bees, ranked 0-3 (no visitation to high visitation). Studying both the beetle damage and how preferred a plant is by bees is important because many of the go-to insecticides that will successfully control the beetles can also harm globally declining bee populations. 

Below are some takeaways from Dr. Cranshaw’s research. “Not recommended” roses had both high levels of beetle damage and high bee visitation, making Japanese beetle control difficult and insecticide application unwise. “Maybe” roses had no bee visitation and varying levels of beetle damage, meaning they could be effectively treated with insecticidal controls without risking negative impacts to our local bees. “Recommended roses” had no beetle damage, therefore not in need of any interventive action as Japanese beetles move into our region. Asterisked roses can be found on the grounds at the Gardens on Spring Creek.

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Don’t forget the Thrips Infestation Predictor

University of Georgiacotton-thrips damageThe Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton application provides forecasts for thrips damage potential for locations across the Midsouth and Southeast U.S. cotton belt. Find it online at products.climate.ncsu.edu.The Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton provides forecasts for thrips damage potential for locations across the Midsouth and Southeast U.S. cotton belt.

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The Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton is a useful tool for predicting whether a foliar insecticide application is needed for tobacco thrips control. This online decision aid has been around a few years, but the website recently changed to products.climate.ncsu.edu

Developed by North Carolina State University, the application uses planting date and local weather data to estimate the size of the local thrips population, the susceptibility of cotton seedling plants and the risk of thrips injury. https://78e1465665c30b2333ff23ad4d440f45.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The website is simple to use. You select a planting date and mark your farm location on the map. The model will predict the risk of thrips injury for that location and planting date as well as other possible planting dates in the same time frame. The results are easy to interpret — green bars suggest low thrips damage potential, red bars mean predicted risk potential is high. Growers can also see an in-season risk for their geographic location for the entire 2021 planting window.  

The tool will give the best predictions within 10 to 14 days after the date you use it since it is based on weather forecasts, according to the website, but you should also check it a few days before you plant. 

While designed to be a pre-planting management decision tool, the Thrips Infestation Predictor can also be useful after seeds are in the ground. Checking the site until cotton reaches the four-leaf stage could be helpful in tracking thrips damage potential. It could also aid in decisions such as timing foliar insecticides and identifying key areas and times to scout your fields.  

Midsouth entomologists like Scott Stewart with the University of Tennessee are fans of the Thrips Infestation Predictor. Stewart has been promoting the decision aid to producers in western Tennessee for years. 

“I think it’s a very useful, user-friendly tool, that growers will like,” Stewart said. “It can help you prioritize the need for making a foliar insecticide application to control thrips. I say give it a try.” 

The Thrips Infestation Predictor for Cotton provides forecasts for thrips damage potential for locations across the Midsouth and Southeast U.S. cotton belt. 

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A race against time: The giant weeds taking over Lake Ossa in Cameroon

Lake Ossa, Cameroon

Lake Ossa, Cameroon   –   Copyright  AMMCOBy Nalova Akua  •  Updated: 12/05/2021

Cameroon’s coastal waters have been invaded by three of the world’s most dangerous water weeds, proving an existential threat to aquatic ecosystems and livelihoods of riparian communities.

The latest of these weeds, Salvinia molesta, is a free-floating, green-brown freshwater fern with branching horizontal stems. It has already invaded more than 40 per cent of Lake Ossa (4,000 hectares), the largest natural lake found on Cameroon’s coast, since 2016.

The weed doubles in size every 10 days.ADVERTISING

The other two, water lettuce and water hyacinth, appeared much earlier – in 1949 and 1970 respectively, according to the Cameroon National Herbarium, a collection centre for plant specimens.

As a flowering invasive aquatic plant, water hyacinth now covers 85 per cent of River Fiko and half of the Wouri River Basin – all water bodies found in Cameroon’s Littoral Region. Mats of this invasive weed double in size in five days.about:blank

The perennial evergreen floating plant known as water lettuce.htm) is found in patches on the surfaces of the Wouri River Basin and the lower reaches of the Sanaga River.

“Water lettuce doubles its biomass in just over five days; triples it in 10 days, quadruples in 20 days and has its original biomass multiplied by a factor of 9 in less than one month,” says Dr. Kenfack Voukeng Sonia Nadège, a Cameroonian weed scientist working with Green Connection, a local environmental conservation non-governmental organisation.

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“As floating weeds, they form dense mats on the surface of water bodies, disrupting aquatic flora and fauna underneath and thus adversely affecting the water ecosystem,” Dr. Kenfack adds.

“This hinders water flow, fishing, swimming, boating, water sports and navigation.”

All these invasive species are native to southeastern Brazil and northern Argentina but can be dispersed within an aquatic system by wind in the dissemination of spores; water currents, floods, and animals; as well as through human activities such as transportation by boat or canoe.

Uncontrolled industrial activities also favour the spread of invasive weeds in Cameroon’s coastal waters.

Pollution due to human activities favours the development of these plants.

Dr Kenfack 

“Being the economic capital, the Littoral Region and especially Douala is the most industrialised municipality in Cameroon with about 60 per cent of the country’s industries’ discharges often released in the open spaces,” says Kenfack.

“Besides, houses built without proper flushing systems contribute to the increase of the nutrients in the environment. Pollution due to human activities favours the development of these plants,” she says.

Salvinia molesta infests lakes and riversCanva

Dr. Kamla Takoukam Kamla, founder of the African Marine Mammal Conservation Organisation (AMMCO), agrees that poor land use triggers the proliferation of invasive aquatic weeds in Cameroon’s coastal regions given that the water columns are enriched with nutrients.

“Two main nutrients needed for invasive weeds to grow are nitrogen and phosphorous coming from upstream. Lake Ossa and the Sanaga River (the largest River in Cameroon) are connected by a 3km channel. Once this river gets polluted, the lake also gets polluted,” explains Kamla.

“It is possible that the nutrients are coming from the industries, plantations and hydroelectric dam reservoirs that are constructed upstream.”

A threat to the livelihood of humans and protected species

The Lake Ossa complex which contains three main lakes and over twenty islands is located in Dizangue, Littoral Region of Cameroon. In 1974, the complex was designated a faunal reserve and since 2018, has been serving as a National Park.

Before the Salvinia invasion, fishing was the major source of livelihood for over 80 per cent of the local population according to Global Water Partnership.

The lake was also an important habitat for many wildlife species including manatees, freshwater turtles, crocodiles, monitor lizards, snakes, aquatic birds and over 18 families of fish.

Before the Salvinia invasion, fishing was the major source of livelihood for over 80 per cent of the local population.

“The mats [of aquatic weeds] indirectly deplete dissolved oxygen, thereby asphyxiating and killing native fish and phytoplankton. With reduced fish supply, human nutrition in riverine communities where fish are the primary source of protein is jeopardized, leading to poor health,” explains Kenfack.

These invasive species “can rapidly out-compete native species and dominate the ecosystem, consequently reducing biodiversity by their exponential proliferation, depriving in return the native species of space, nutrients and moisture,” she adds.

Lake Ossa over the years, as the infestation has become worse.AMMCO

This results in a modification of the entire structure and functioning of the ecosystems.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has described the threat posed by Salvinia molesta to Lake Ossa and its ecosystem as “a conservation emergency.” At least 400 fishermen used to fish in Lake Ossa – fish being the main protein source for a couple of thousand people who live around the lake.

“In the past, I was able to make between 15 and 21 Euros daily as profit from selling fish. But today, I can barely make 6 Euros a day as profit,” says Dina Marie-Louise, a 51-year-old who has been selling fish caught in the lake for the past 22 years.

The lake was also an important habitat for wildlife species including manatees, freshwater turtles, crocodiles, monitor lizards, snakes, aquatic birds and over 18 families of fish.

The mother of 12 said the Salvinia attack on Lake Ossa – their main source of livelihood for generations – has shattered her plans of building a house for her family. Seven of her children have dropped out of school for want of means.

Kouoh Elinga Charles, 56, who has spent 30 years fishing in the lake, expressed the same concern adding that he has resorted to odd jobs to feed his polygamous home.

“The salvinia plant has disrupted fishing considerably,” he says.

Manatees used to live in Lake OssaCanva

“Initially I was able to save 15.32 euros from fishing daily. But today, it is difficult to fetch 1.53 euros from the activity which can hardly satisfy our household needs,” the father of eight said.

Water hyacinth and Salvinia invasions have also disrupted fishing and sand extraction in the Wouri River Basin and in the River Fiko – other main sources of income to the riparian communities.

Lake Ossa used to harbour a minimum of 50 individual African manatees, the least-studied of the three manatee species in genus Trichechidae. But their number is on the decline owing to the Salvinia attack on the lake. Manatees are large, slow-moving mammals that frequent coastal waters and rivers. They never leave the water but, like all marine mammals, manatees must surface about every five minutes to breathe.

When carpets of invasive weeds lock the surface of the lake, they prevent the African manatee from surfacing and breathing.

Dr Kamla 

“When carpets of invasive weeds lock the surface of the lake, they prevent the African manatee from surfacing and breathing. Consequently, they will likely leave Lake Ossa or move to another part of the lake not yet invaded by aquatic weeds,” Kamla said.

“If nothing is done, the lake will be completely invaded and there will be no fish, no manatees and no freshwater turtles which the lake is endowed with.”

Invasive species are considered the third most dangerous factor threatening world biodiversity, after habitat loss and over-exploitation, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Can insects solve the problem?

To counter the spread of aquatic weeds in Cameroon’s coastal waters, the African Marine Mammal Conservation Organisation has partnered with similar international organisations and are considering the three existing approaches: manual removal, biological control and the integrated weed management control method.

The Integrated Weed Management (IWM) method entails combining multiple weed control systems into a single weed management programme, to contain the spread of a particular water weed according to Kenfack.

“Up to now, biological control offers a better opportunity to control the spread of these weeds, as compared to the other methods of control such as the chemical that could be dangerous to human and environment and the manual removal which is a very tedious process.

“Biological control uses host specific insects [Salvinia weevil in case of Salvinia molesta attack] which can only complete their life cycles on the target species to reduce the target plant populations. The insects are the plant’s natural enemies,” Kenfack said.

Salvinia weevils are small beetles which can eat the invasive weeds.

The first releases of the Salvinia weevil as a biological agent were at Lake Moondarra, Mount Isa, Australia in 1980.

The Salvinia weevil is a small beetle which can eat the invasive weeds.AMMCO

“Adults and larvae both feed on these floating ferns,” says Matthew Purcell, Director, USDA ARS Australian Biological Control Laboratory – a structure jointly operated by the Agriculture Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

“The effectiveness varies from site to site depending on environmental parameters, temperature, nutrient availability and water flow, shade, etc.

“The larvae initially feed on roots, then move to the buds, finally tunneling into the Rhizome which can kill the plant; adults feed on all plant parts externally,” adds Purcell.

Scientists say biological control is globally considered as one of the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly and sustainable ways of reducing the impacts of invasive species.

Nearly 6,000 individual Salvinia weevils are being mass-reared in a facility in Lake Ossa by AMMCO.

“They were brought in from the Louisiana State University in the United States with the authorization of the Cameroon government,” says Kamla.

Scientists say biological control is globally considered as one of the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly and sustainable ways of reducing the impacts of invasive species.

“We keep mass-rearing them until we receive authorisation from the government to release them into the areas affected by water weeds. We are now conducting an experiment to know how long it will take for the weevils to get rid of these aquatic weeds in lake Ossa.”

An effective biological control of Salvinia molesta by using the Salvinia weevil was also applied in the Senegal River in the early 2000s. Similarly, the release of the weevil into South Africa’s fresh water systems in 1985 successfully brought Salvinia molesta under control.

“For water hyacinth, biological control entails the deployment of the weevils Neochetina eichhorniae and N. bruchi which are among the first to be used worldwide in more than 32 countries to control the weed,’’ explains Kenfack.

“They were found in some sites in the Wouri Basin causing damage on the mats of water hyacinth. However, their population is still small and must be mass-reared to obtain effective control of this plant (no need of an import permit).” The biological control agent of water lettuce is different though, she stresses.

Nalova Akua
Locals want Lake Ossa to be clear once again, so that their livelihoods can resume and wildlife can be saved.Nalova Akua

Neohydronomus affinis was used successfully in countries such as Senegal, Benin, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa.”

Scientists have expressed hope that Cameroon may just be the next country for the successful implementation of biological control to weed out invasive water weeds.

“Because Cameroon is tropical, the prospects for successful biological control are high. I would predict that there will be a significant reduction in cover within 18 months, if not less,” says Julie Coetzee, Deputy Director and Manager of the Aquatic Weed Biocontrol Programme at Rhodes University, South Africa.

“While the process is not perceived as quick, in comparison to herbicide, it is sustainable in the long term. Patience is key,” she adds.

But Dr. Kenfack is concerned Cameroon may be racing against time.

“Limited progress [to mass-rear and authorise release of weevils] means the watercourses (Lake Ossa, Wouri Basin and Fiko just to name those) and all their biodiversity will be negatively affected.

“This calls for an urgent action in order to reap the benefits from these watercourses not only for us, but for the future generation,” she concludes.

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They said weed science was dying, but then things changed

TAGS: HERBICIDERESISTANCE MANAGEMENTCOTTON GINSSOYBEANSJohn HartJohn_Hart_Farm_Press_Wes_Everman_Weeds.jpgWes Everman has been the Extension weed specialist for soybeans and small grains for 10 years. He has been on the job since 2011.At the time, Roundup Ready herbicides were taking over the world.

John Hart | Apr 26, 2021

Farm Progress Show 2021

Back in 2002, when Wes Everman was planning to pursue a Ph.D. in weed science, a number of professors discouraged him. They told him it was a dying field and that he would have a tough time landing a job come graduation.

At the time, Roundup Ready herbicides were taking over the world. Everman notes that one professor didn’t want to write a letter of recommendation for him to pursue a Ph. D because he saw no future in weed science.

Everman had just completed his master’s degree in weed science at Purdue University in 2002. He earlier earned his B.S. degree in Agronomic Business and Marketing from Purdue in 2000. Everman grew up on a farm in northeastern Iowa near Decorah. Everman’s grandfather ran the farm while his father was a local custom butcher.

For college, Everman said he bucked the trend and decided to go to Purdue instead of Iowa State University. As a boy, Everman had a passion for animals and could tell you all the breeds of hogs, cows, and chickens. He had originally planned to go into agricultural economics and pursue a career working with animals.

“I got into agronomy by accident. This was before the internet. Purdue sent out a brochure. One of the majors was agronomic business and marketing. I didn’t know what agronomy was. I thought agronomics was a clever play on agricultural economics: Agronomics. That sounded perfect so I checked the box on the brochure and sent it back,” Everman says.

When it came time for freshman orientation at Purdue the summer after high school graduation, Everman soon discovered he would be taking agronomy classes. “Where are all the business classes?” Everman wondered. 

Well, Everman’s adviser, Dr. Lee Schweitzer, encouraged him to stay in the program and said he could take business electives. Purdue is known for its good soil science program. At the time, Everman said he could care less about soils, but figured he was in college to learn things he knew nothing about, so he decided to stick with it.

Glyphosate dominant

Everman soon developed a passion for weed science research and decided to go on and earn his master’s and Ph.D. with the goal of working in research and Extension. However, a number of folks discouraged him because of glyphosate’s dominance in weed control across the country.

“Most people thought Roundup was the answer to everything. They believed all the other herbicides would be going away and it was all going to be Roundup. Glyphosate resistant horseweed did show up in 2000, but it wasn’t a terrible problem and it wasn’t across the country. It wasn’t until 2005 and 2006 when we started seeing glyphosate resistant Palmer amaranth,” Everman explains.

In fact, Everman explains that many good weed scientists who had just earned Ph.Ds. in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 did indeed have a tough time finding jobs because many universities were not filling weed science positions.

It turns out glyphosate resistance as well as resistance to other herbicides would indeed become a major issue beginning in the late 2000s. And now in 2021, the problem isn’t expected to go away anytime soon. It turns out Everman was spot on in his decision to pursue a career in weed science. “Some people said I had good foresight. I was actually just stubborn,” Everman says with a laugh.

Everman was accepted into the weed science program at North Carolina State University. “I was told if I really wanted to learn about weeds, I needed to go to the South where there really are weed problems. I learned there are a lot more weed issues down here than in the Midwest,” he says.

Everman completed his Ph.D. at North Carolina State in 2008. His thesis was using Liberty Link and Liberty Link crops for managing Palmer amaranth and other troublesome weeds. Upon graduation, he did indeed land a job as an Extension weed specialist at Michigan State University.

Return to Carolina

In 2011, a weed science position opened up at his alma mater, North Carolina State University, so Everman decided to apply and landed the position. There were budget cuts and uncertainty at Michigan State so Everman knew the time was right to return to North Carolina.

He’s been on the job for 10 years now and has no regrets about working in weed science and working in North Carolina. “This is right where I belong,” he says.

Everman says he has a passion for helping farmers solve their toughest weed problems. Everman is the Extension weed specialist for soybeans and small grains.

In Extension talks and field days, Everman has continually emphasized the challenges of herbicide resistance, encouraging farmers to use multiple modes of action and cultural practices such a cover crops in their weed control regiment.

In North Carolina, there has been confirmed “three way” resistance of common ragweed to glyphosate, PPOs, and ALS inhibitors. There is also expected Palmer amaranth resistance to PPOs in North Carolina, which still needs to be confirmed. Glyphosate resistant ryegrass has been confirmed in North Carolina.

Everman explains that all the herbicide resistance is a culmination of years of use.

“I feel like where we are now, if we use a single mode of action heavily, we will probably get about five years out of it because the large seed bank is aiding in the development of resistance. We selected for weeds that have an ability to adapt to different stressors,” Everman explains.

“Some biotypes have enhanced metabolism so that when a herbicide is used, that enhanced metabolic pathway can break it down. Some of the resistant biotypes out there will even survive applications of sprays they’ve never been exposed to before. They have a mechanism now that allows them to survive just about anything. Where do we go?”

One great hope is harvest weed seed control or seed mills that have found success in Australia. North Carolina is part of a nationwide grant beginning this year where Redekop and Harrington Seed Destructors will be tested to see if they can be effectively used here as they are in Australia. Everman has already lined up two farmers in North Carolina to try the system on their operations this year.

“I’m hoping we get widespread adoption before we lose chemicals. Reducing the seedbank is one of the best ways. If we can integrate harvest weed seed control, we can reduce the seeds going into the soil and reduce the seed bank. Ultimately you have fewer weeds coming up in those fields and you have less selection pressure on your herbicides,” Everman says.

Everman stresses that chemical control of weeds isn’t going away anytime soon, but additional tools such as harvest weed seed control should have a place. He is really hopeful the system will work in North Carolina.

One thing is certain, Everman believes he made the right decision when he decided to pursue a career in weed science research and Extension. He notes that weeds are genetically programmed to survive which means there will a need to find news ways to control them.

In fact, Everman encourages others to pursue a career in weed science. “There will always be work that needs to get done,” he says.

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“Beetles that pee themselves to death could be tomorrow’s pest control”

Various beetle species have gobbled through grain stores and weakened food production worldwide since ancient times. Now, researchers at the University of Copenhagen have discovered a better way of targeting and eliminating these teeny pests. Instead of using toxic pesticides that damage biodiversity, the environment, and human health, the researchers seek to exploit beetles’ greatest strength against them — their precisely regulated mechanism of balancing fluids.

Up to 25 percent of global food production is lost annually due to insects, primarily beetles. For the past 500 million years, beetles have successfully spread and adapted to life around the globe and now account for one of every five animal species on Earth. Yet as far back as ancient Egypt, these tough little bugs have invaded granaries and vexed humans by destroying crops.

Wheat weevils, confused flour beetles, Colorado potato beetles and other types of beetles and insects make their ways into up to 25 percent of the global food supply. Photo: Getty 

As a result, food production and abundant use of pesticides now go hand in hand. A large share of these pesticides damage biodiversity, the environment, and human health. As various pesticides are phased out, new solutions are required to target and eradicate pests without harming humans or beneficial insects like bees.

This is precisely what researchers from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Biology are working on. As part of a broader effort to develop more “ecological” methods of combatting harmful insects in the near future, researchers have discovered which hormones regulate urine formation in the kidneys of beetles.

“Knowing which hormones regulate urine formation opens up the development of compounds similar to beetle hormones that, for example, can cause beetles to form so much urine that they die of dehydration,” explains Associate Professor Kenneth Veland Halberg of the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Biology. He adds:

“While it may seem slightly vicious, there’s nothing new in us trying to vanquish pests that destroy food production. We’re simply trying to do it in a smarter, more targeted manner that takes the surrounding environment into greater account than traditional pesticides.”

Ancient Egyptians weakened beetles’ water balance using stones
The new study, as well as a previous study, also conducted by Kenneth Veland Halberg, demonstrates that beetles solve the task of regulating their water and salt balance in a fundamentally different way than other insects. This difference in insect biology is an important detail when seeking to combat certain species while leaving their neighbors alone.

“Today’s insecticides go in and paralyze an insect’s nervous system. The problem with this approach is that insect nervous systems are quite similar across species. Using these insecticides leads to the killing of bees and other beneficial field insects, and harms other living organisms,” explains Kenneth Veland Halberg.

The centrality to survival of the carefully controlled water balance of beetles is no secret. In fact, ancient Egyptians already knew to mix pebbles in grain stores to fight these pests. Stones scratched away the waxy outer layer of beetles’ exoskeletons which serves to minimize fluid evaporation.

“Never mind that they chipped an occasional tooth on the pebbles, the Egyptians could see that the scratches killed some of the beetles due to the fluid loss caused by damage to the waxy layer. However, they lacked the physiological knowledge that we have now,” says Kenneth Veland Halberg.

One-hundred billion dollars of pesticides used worldwide
Pesticides have replaced pebbles. And, their global use is now valued at roughly 100 billion dollars annually. But as rules for pesticide use become stricter, farmers are left with fewer options to fight pests. 

“The incentive to develop compounds which target and eradicate pests is huge. Food production is critically dependent on pesticides. In Europe alone, it is estimated that food production would decline by 50 percent without pesticide use. With just a single, more targeted product on the market, there would almost immediately be immense gains for both wildlife and humans,” states Kenneth Veland Halberg.

But the development of new compounds to combat beetles requires, among other things, that chemists design a new molecule that resembles beetle hormones. At the same time, this compound must be able to enter beetles, either through their exoskeletons or by their feeding upon it.

“Understanding urine formation in beetles is an important step in developing more targeted and environmentally-friendly pest controls for the future. We are now in the process of involving protein chemistry specialists who can help us design an artificial insect hormone. But there is still a fair bit of work ahead before any new form of pest control sees the light of day,” concludes Associate Professor Kenneth Veland Halberg.

Read the complete research at www.pnas.org.

For more information:
University of Copenhagen

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Combine old with new for resistant weed management

TAGS: HERBICIDEHERBICIDE RESISTANT WEEDSAdam Hixon, BASFadam-hixson-pigweed-glyphosate.jpgSignificant pigweed infestation remains in this field after two applications of glyphosate.Getting back to the basics is critical to managing herbicide resistant weeds.

Ron Smith | Apr 19, 2021

Weeds resistant to herbicides are a way of life for farmers, one more concern to complicate an already complex production system.

But options exist not only to manage resistance but also to reduce the size of the weed seed bank.https://82ae8ac4f4c5904dfe4704d0077ebf4f.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“Resistance is here to stay,” said Adam Hixson, BASF technical service representative for Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, during a recent media update on managing herbicide resistant weeds in the Southwest.

swfp-shelley-huguley-adam-hixon-profile.jpgAdam Hixson, BASF technical service representative for Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. (Photo by Shelley E. Huguley)

“We’ve heard the expression, ‘out with the old and in with the new,’” Hixson said. “I want to change that to ‘in with the old and in with the new.’”

Back to basics

Getting back to basics, he said, is crucial to managing herbicide resistant weeds. He called on Texas A&M AgriLife Professor and Extension Weed Specialist Pete Dotray to put the problem in perspective.

“According to the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds, we have eight resistant weed species in Texas,” Dotray said. “The first case of resistance in the state was noted 30 years ago, but in the last 10 years, glyphosate resistance has created a lot of concern.”

Dotray said Roundup resistant Palmer amaranth, also known as pigweed and carelessweed, was first identified on the Texas High Plains about 10 years ago, later than in some Mid-South and Southeastern states. He believes a key to that late arrival was that High Plains farmers never abandoned residual herbicides, especially the yellow herbicides like Treflan and Prowl.

shelley-huguley-dotray-profile.jpgTexas A&M AgriLife Professor and Extension Weed Specialist Pete Dotray (Photo by Shelley E.Huguley)

Overuse of Roundup, using the same chemistry over and over, and use of fewer herbicide and tillage inputs provided an open door for the increase in resistant weed populations, Dotray said. “Resistant weeds were likely already out there in extremely low numbers.”

Palmer amaranth resistance has complicated weed management, Hixson added. “We’ve seen multiple applications of glyphosate at labeled rates fail to control Palmer amaranth.”

He said remedies include manual control, such as hoeing, which is expensive and time-consuming. “Also, we’re always looking for that next ‘shiny object’ that will solve the problem.”

Shiny things have been scarce in recent years, however, so Hixson offers a different option. “We need to use what we have today, but use it in a more calculated, knowledge-based approach. We have to get back to the fundamentals of weed control.”

Year-round effort

He and Dotray agree that successful weed control strategies do not focus solely on in-season herbicide applications. “Good weed management has to be a well-planned, year-round venture,” Hixson said.

Weed identification is a priority. “It’s important to identify the weeds and to understand fully the biology. Know when specific weed species are most vulnerable.”

He explained that Kochia, sometimes “a huge problem and resistant to several herbicides,” emerges early in the spring and typically has only one flush. An effective residual herbicide, applied at the right time, will take care of most Kochia issues.

Palmer amaranth, however, emerges from early in the season well into fall and requires a season-long management program.

Dotray said Palmer seed that emerge late in the season remain a threat to replenish the seed bank and create problems for the next crop year.

“We’ve looked at the abundance of seed one plant can produce,” he said. “Palmer that emerges early produces as many as 500,000 to 600,000 seed, maybe more, per plant. That’s a lot of seed. But a Palmer plant that emerges in August will still produce as many as 20,000 seed, also a lot. As late as September, emerging plants will produce 2,000 seed, and still hundreds by October. Even plants that emerge as late as November can produce some viable seeds.”

“Leaving just one plant,” Hixson said, “may add to the weed seed bank, a key factor for the next season. One seed per square inch represents more than 6 million seeds per acre.” So, next season’s weed control should start before this season ends.

Good news

Dotray said recent research shows a bit of good news about the longevity of Palmer seed. Studies have shown that some weed seed will retain viability for as long as 120 years.

“We had no good answer for how long Palmer seed remain viable, so five years ago we set up a test to see. We buried Palmer seed at various depths across the state.”

They uncover them at intervals, beginning at six months, again at 12 months, and yearly after that. Based on data from the first 48 months of the research, “Palmer seed viability begins to decline significantly after 12 months. Those findings were the same across all locations and at all depths. A second study initiated in 2018 has shown the same results so far,” Dotray said.

“The good news is that a farmer who does a good job of managing Palmer amaranth effectively with a systematic program can get them down to a manageable level in a short time.”

That system should include late applications to prevent escapes, he said.

Knowledge is key

Hixson said an effective weed management program also depends on knowing not only the weed species vulnerabilities but also the interactions of soils and chemistry.

He said using herbicides with multiple, effective modes of action should be a critical part of weed management

“But also understand the properties of the herbicides and how they respond to different conditions, including soil types and moisture. Soil leaching properties will affect herbicide efficacy,” he said. “Also, the more water soluble a product is, the deeper it will move into the soil profile. Less soluble usually means more soil binding.”

He said different soil types — changes in clay content, sand, organic matter level — all may affect herbicide activity.

He said in situations with good moisture, a product like Zidua could be the best option. “In dryland or subsurface drip irrigation conditions, Outlook would be ideal.”Adam Hixon, BASFadam-hixson-timely-applications.jpg

Timely applications, with overlapping residuals (Prowl H2O herbicide followed by Outlook herbicide), along with an effective postemergence herbicide (Engenia herbicide), provide exceptional control of Palmer amaranth.

They key is understanding the weed, the environment, and the herbicide properties, then using the proper material for the target weed under those specific conditions.

Timing and coverage

He added that application timing and coverage also matter.

“Also remember, the cottonseed trait package you plant determines the herbicides you can use.”

“Using residual herbicides, identifying weeds and understanding the difference in solubility and where a product fits best based on soil and moisture are critical to a systems approach to weed management,” Dotray added.

In response to a question about new dicamba labels, Hixson said BASF would not veer from the requirements established by the federal label in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico

Dotray noted that the new registrations come with some significant changes, including bigger buffers, volatility reduction adjuvant requirements and application timing.

“Also, last year some states used 24-C exemptions to alter some regulations. So far this year, states that have applied for a 24-C have been denied.”

Hixson announced that BASF does have one “shiny object” in the pipeline, a new seed trait with tolerance to four herbicides –GLIXTP, pending regulatory approval. He anticipates introduction in 2023, with potentially more availability in 2024.

In the meantime, he said, “Old chemistry still has value.”

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Damage from invasive species ‘trebling every decade’

Mosquitoes, rats and termites among species that have hitched ride on trade routes, causing at least $1.3tn of damage

Fall armyworm
The fall armyworm arrived in Africa in 2016 and has now invaded dozens of countries. Photograph: Grant Heilman Photography/Alamy

Damian Carrington Environment editor@dpcarringtonWed 31 Mar 2021 11.00 EDT

The costs of damage caused by invasions of alien species across the world is trebling every decade, research has found.

Mosquitoes, rats, ragweeds and termites are among the species that have hitched a ride on globalised trade routes, bringing disease, crop destruction and damage to buildings. The scientists calculated the costs at $1.3tn (£944bn) since 1970, and said even this “staggering sum” was likely to be a big underestimate as much damage is unreported.

The rapidly growing costs show no sign of slowing down, the researchers said, and are more than 10 times higher than the funding for preventing or dealing with these biological invasions. They said global action to combat invasive species remained limited, mostly because the “profound” impacts are poorly understood by the public and politicians.

Mosquitoes from the Aedes genus, such as the tiger mosquito, spread Zika, dengue, yellow fever and other viruses, and were responsible for the biggest recorded costs. Invasive rodents such as the black rat, grey squirrel, coypu and house mouse also cause severe damage to human health, crops and food stores and to native wildlife.

Formosan termites, voracious consumers of wood, are a particular problem in the US, while the red fire ant has spread from its South American home to Australia, New Zealand, several Asian and Caribbean countries and the US. The fall armyworm, which can destroy many crops, arrived in Africa in 2016 and has now invaded dozens of countries.

“The economic costs of invasive alien species since 1970 are tremendous, steadily increasing, but still massively underestimated,” said Christophe Diagne, at the Université Paris-Saclay, France, and who led the research. He said the rising damage mirrored the growth of international trade and the expanding area of farmland and settlements that the invaders can damage.Advertisement

Prof Corey Bradshaw, of Flinders University in Australia, who was part of the study team, said: “The quicker you detect invasive species and the quicker you act, the cheaper it is in the long run. So really good detection at ports and airports and then rapid responses are going to cost you orders of magnitude less money than the damage.”

He said consumers ended up paying for the damage via increased prices for food and other products, and higher healthcare costs.

The research, published in the journal Nature, analysed more than 1,300 estimates of damage by invasive animals and plants. Costs were highest in the US, India, China and Brazil, but this probably reflects where the problems have been most reported. There is little or no data in many other parts of the world.

Some earlier cost estimates indicated much higher damages – as much as $1.4tn a year – but Bradshaw said these were largely based on poor or speculative assessments. “Some were not even ‘back of the envelope’ – there was no envelope,” he said.

The new analysis was deliberately conservative, using only estimates based on observed data. “But there are so many unquantifiables from a monetary perspective, like ecosystem damage and lost productivity, so it’s still the tip of the iceberg,” said Bradshaw. The true costs could be 10 times higher, he said.

Biological invasions are known to be increasing and so the rising cost estimates are unlikely to be solely the result of increased reporting of damage. Either way, the scientists said, “they robustly show staggering amounts” and “a huge economic burden”.

Prof Helen Roy, of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, who was not part of the research team, said: “The most important aspect of this research is showing the rising costs, regardless of the exact figure. Overall it is a very useful paper and has some excellent recommendations. It also gives some cause for optimism – there are ways to prevent arrival or manage invasive alien species that become established.”

Bradshaw said cinnamon fungus, which rots the roots of plants including grape vines, was one of Australia’s most damaging invasive species. “I have a little farm and it’s killed all of my chestnuts. So we’re slowly replacing those with trees that are resistant”.

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New, Improved, and Expanded!
Field Guide to African Soybean Diseases, Pests & Nutrient Deficiencies

Available Now!
April 1, 2021
  It’s here! The new and improved Field Guide is available for free now. Click here to access.   You asked, we delivered. The Soybean Innovation Lab’s (SIL) network of growers, breeders, agronomists, researchers, seed companies, practitioners, and extension agents needed a practical solution for identifying and addressing soybean diseases, pests, and nutrient deficiencies in the field. In response, SIL developed a pictorial, easy-to-use guide that provides diagnostic tools, management solutions, and guidance for achieving a healthy soybean crop.   The new & improved guide includes more information on important soybean pests and diseases, and a section on identifying and managing nutrient deficiencies, commonly confused for soybean diseases in the field. The guide contains more than 110 images gathered from SIL’s disease scouting network and soybean experts.     The Field Guide to African Soybean Diseases, Pests & Nutrient Deficiencies includes 7 sections to identify and address 44 potential threats to yield.   The expanded Field Guide covers important soybean diseases, pests and nutrient deficiencies including, from left, clockwise: Soybean Rust, Frogeye Leaf Spot, Calcium deficiency, Grasshopper, Stink Bug, Caterpillar, Bean Leaf Folder.   As soybean production increases across Africa, disease and pest pressures become more threatening to growers. The soybean industry requires knowledge on how to identify and manage soybean diseases, prepare for outbreaks, and understand varietal resistance to prevent potentially devastating yield losses due to soybean diseases.

The SIL Field Guide to African Soybean Diseases, Pest, & Nutrient Deficiencies is the the first and most comprehensive pictorial guide available to soybean producers in Africa.
    Download pdf here   Access an online version here   Field Guide Authors   The Field Guide to African Soybean Diseases, Pests, & Nutrient Deficiencies Version 2.0 was written by (left to right):  George Awuni, PhD, Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi State University Glen Hartman, PhD, USDA-ARS and Crop Sciences, University of Illinois Nicole Lee, Crop Sciences, University of Illinois Harun Muthuri Murithi, PhD, Plant Pathologist, ARS-USDA Michelle Pawlowski, PhD, Crop Sciences, University of Illinois Daniel B. Reynolds, PhD, Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi State University   The first edition of the Field Guide is available in 4 languages: English, French, Portuguese, and Amharic and has been used extensively by SIL’s network of soybean practitioners acoss 24 African countries.     “For the past 4 years all Pyxus agriculture Field Technicians are using the Field Guide to African Soybean Diseases and Pests.

“Whenever they are scouting or scoring pests and diseases they refer to the booklet guidance. It has got easy and simple pics to follow and well explained version of each illustrations.
“This has made it easier to distinguish diseases that look alike. So, our scouting, scoring and data recoding on pests and diseases has been easy and the booklet has improved our technicians’ knowledge on soybeans and related aspects. We use it as a field tool all the time.”
“Version 2 of the book is most welcome!”

– Dennis Banda, Pyxus International, Malawi
(Photos: Dennis Banda and his Field Guide)  

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