Archive for the ‘Weeds’ Category

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Syngenta and FMC to bring to market breakthrough technology to control rice weeds in Asia. (Photo: Business Wire)

Syngenta and FMC to bring to market breakthrough technology to control rice weeds in Asia. Photo: Business Wire

Syngenta Crop Protection and FMC Corporation have announced an agreement to bring to market a breakthrough technology to control grass weeds in rice in Asia. The new active ingredient Tetflupyrolimet, discovered and developed by FMC with support from Syngenta for the development in rice, marks the first major herbicide with a novel mode of action (DHODH – HRAC Group 28) in over three decades, promising relief to farmers challenged by weed resistance to existing herbicides.

Tetflupyrolimet boosts the yield and quality of rice production by delivering season-long control of the most significant grass weeds, which compete with the crop for water, fertilizer, light and space, and host pests and diseases that impact rice farming. A further benefit of this technology is that it can be used at low rates with good crop safety. In addition to being easy to apply in traditional transplanted rice, the herbicide is also highly suited to direct-seeded rice, paving the way for the greater adoption of modern and more environmentally friendly cropping systems.

“This innovation will drive a step-change in the yield and quality of rice harvests, address the growing challenge of weed resistance, and could transform the lives of millions of rice farmers,” said Ioana Tudor, Global Head of Marketing at Syngenta Crop Protection. “At Syngenta, we are excited by the potential of this new technology to elevate the sustainability of global rice production.”

Rice production is central to the livelihoods of an estimated 150 million farmers globally, who supply a fifth of the world’s dietary energy. It is the most important food crop in developing countries, accounting for close to 30 percent of the total calorific intake of these populations. Rice farming is also one of the most important sources of employment in rural areas.

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Under the agreement, Syngenta and FMC will both bring Tetflupyrolimet based products to key rice markets in Asia. Syngenta will register and commercialize Tetflupyrolimet in China – the world’s largest rice market. In addition, Syngenta will commercialize products containing mixtures of Tetflupyrolimet for rice in India, Vietnam, Indonesia, as well as in Japan and South Korea. FMC will register and commercialize Tetflupyrolimet and an array of products in all these countries, except in China where it will focus on mixtures for rice. Syngenta will further exclusively commercialize Tetflupyrolimet for rice in Bangladesh.

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University of Adelaide

Failed antibiotic now a game changing weed killer for farmers

23-May-2023 10:05 PM EDT, by University of Adelaide


Newswise: Failed antibiotic now a game changing weed killer for farmers

(From left) Emily Mackie, Dr Andrew Barrow and Dr Tatiana Soares da Costa.

Newswise — Weed killers of the future could soon be based on failed antibiotics.

A molecule which was initially developed to treat tuberculosis but failed to progress out of the lab as an antibiotic is now showing promise as a powerful foe for weeds that invade our gardens and cost farmers billions of dollars each year.

While the failed antibiotic wasn’t fit for its original purpose, scientists at the University of Adelaide discovered that by tweaking its structure, the molecule became effective at killing two of the most problematic weeds in Australia, annual ryegrass and wild radish, without harming bacterial and human cells.

“This discovery is a potential game changer for the agricultural industry. Many weeds are now resistant to the existing herbicides on the market, costing farmers billions of dollars each year,” said lead researcher Dr Tatiana Soares da Costa from the University of Adelaide’s Waite Research Institute.

“Using failed antibiotics as herbicides provides a short-cut for faster development of new, more effective weed killers that target damaging and invasive weeds that farmers find hard to control.”

Researchers at the University’s Herbicide and Antibiotic Innovation Lab discovered there were similarities between bacterial superbugs and weeds at a molecular level.

They exploited these similarities and, by chemically modifying the structure of a failed antibiotic, they were able to block the production of amino acid lysine, which is essential for weed growth.

“There are no commercially available herbicides on the market that work in this way. In fact, in the past 40 years, there have been hardly any new herbicides with new mechanisms of action that have entered the market,” said Dr Andrew Barrow, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr Soares da Costa’s team at the University of Adelaide’s Waite Research Institute.

It’s estimated that weeds cost the Australian agriculture industry more than $5 billion each year.

Annual ryegrass in particular is one of the most serious and costly weeds in southern Australia.

“The short-cut strategy saves valuable time and resources, and therefore could expedite the commercialisation of much needed new herbicides,” said Dr Soares da Costa.

“It’s also important to note that using failed antibiotics won’t drive antibiotic resistance because the herbicidal molecules we discovered don’t kill bacteria. They specifically target weeds, with no effects on human cells,” she said.

It’s not just farmers who could reap the benefits of this discovery. Researchers say it could also lead to the development of new weed killers to target pesky weeds growing in our backyards and driveways.

“Our re-purposing approach has the potential to discover herbicides with broad applications that can kill a variety of weeds,” said Dr Barrow.

This research has been published in the journal of Communications Biology.

Dr Tatiana Soares da Costa and her team are now looking at discovering more herbicidal molecules by re-purposing other failed antibiotics and partnering up with industry to introduce new and safe herbicides to the market.

Funding for this research was provided by the Australian Research Council through a DECRA Fellowship and a Discovery Project awarded to Dr Tatiana Soares da Costa.

The first author on the paper is Emily Mackie, a PhD student in Dr Soares da Costa’s team, who is supported by scholarships from the Grains and Research Development Corporation and Research Training Program. Co-authors include Dr Andrew Barrow, Dr Marie-Claire Giel, Dr Anthony Gendall and Dr Santosh Panjikar.

The Waite Research Institute stimulates and supports research and innovation across the University of Adelaide and its partners that builds capacity for Australia’s agriculture, food, and wine sectors.


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Training workshop focuses on rearing of stem boring weevil to fight noxious parthenium weed in Pakistan

Parthenium hysterophorus is a highly destructive weed that has crossed continents, and is spreading rapidly in both rural and urban landscapes across Pakistan.

A variety of methodologies have been used to control its spread but no single management option is adequate to manage parthenium. Therefore, there is a need to integrate various management options.

Successful management of this weed can only be achieved through an integrated approach with biological control as the key element.

With this in mind, CABI’s centre in Pakistan, organised a one-day training workshop titled ‘Rearing Techniques for Listronotus setosipennis (Stem Boring Weevil) in Pakistan.’ This activity was held on part of CABI’s PlantwisePlus programme.

The participants, who attended the workshop, were from research institutes and academia from four universities. These included University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (UAF), Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, University of Swabi, and the Agricultural Research Institute, Tarnab, Peshawar. Also in attendance were newly joined research interns from two agriculture universities.

The workshop started with welcoming remarks by Dr Naeem Aslam, Country Coordinator, PlantwisePlus programme. He welcomed the participants in the workshop and appreciated the support provided by the institution for strengthening the biocontrol programme for parthenium in Pakistan.

Serious socio-economic threat

He stated that Parthenium hysterophorus L. poses a serious environmental and socio-economic threat in Pakistan. He added that Parthenium hysterophorus was identified as a priority for control in Pakistan and an integrated control programme has been launched against this invasive weed.

Dr Philip Weyl, Weed Biological Control gave detailed presentation on rearing techniques for Listronotus setosipennis (Credit: CABI).

Speaking on the occasion, Abdul Rehman, Deputy Director Programme, CABI outlined the identification, impacts, and management of Parthenium hysterophorus.

He said CABI, through its Action on Invasive programme, has established a quarantine facility for the screening of complementary biological control agents not yet in Pakistan against parthenium and other invasive weeds in the country.

Importation of Listronotus setosipennis

With this quarantine facility, the importation of the Stem Boring Weevil, Listronotus setosipennis (Hustache) was possible and host range testing is underway. The biological control of parthenium in Pakistan is still at an early stage, and considerable effort is required to fill the management toolbox for this invasive weed.

Dr Philip Weyl, Head of Weed Biological Control, based at CABI’s centre in Switzerland, also gave a detailed presentation on rearing techniques for Listronotus setosipennis through rearing protocol and field visit.

The workshop embraced practical work on designing some initial research work on its biology, field release and impact evaluation to strengthen the biological control programme on parthenium. The participants were also trained on the rearing techniques of Listronotus setosipennis in the Quarantine IPPC-PEQ-2 Facility.

Participants from the workshop (Credit: CABI).

Additional information

Main image: Practical activity in the laboratory on the culturing of Listronotus setosipennis (Credit: CABI).

Blog author

Mr Fazl Ullah – Entomologist In-charge Biocontrol Laboratories, CABI RBC Pakistan

Other relevant blogs

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Pakistan, Plantwise, parthenium weed

Agriculture and International Development

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AI-powered robots cut out weeds while leaving crops untouched

The machines could help to “drastically increase the efficiency of the farming industry.”

Loukia Papadopoulos

Loukia Papadopoulos

Created: Mar 11, 2023 11:41 AM EST

IE_Daily stories-11 (1).jpg

FarmWise’s robot.


In farming, weeds can strangle crops and destroy yields. Unfortunately, spraying herbicides to deal with the intrusive plants pollutes the environment and harms human health and there simply aren’t enough workers to tackle all the weeds by hand.

A new startup called FarmWise has come up with a solution: autonomous weeding robots that use artificial intelligence to cut out weeds while leaving crops untouched, according to an MIT report published on Thursday.

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“We have a growing population, and we can’t expand the land or water we have, so we need to drastically increase the efficiency of the farming industry,” company co-founder Sebastien Boyer told MIT. “I think AI and data are going to be major players in that journey.”

The company currently boasts two super weed cropping robots: the Titan and the Vulcan. Both are powered by an AI that directs hundreds of tiny blades to snip out weeds around each crop without harming the healthy plants. Both also allow for human supervision as the robots work to remove the pesky weeds.

But that’s not all.

More than just weeding

FarmWise now has over 15,000 commercial hours under its belt and has ambitious plans to use the data it collects for more than just weeding.

“It’s all about precision,” Boyer said. “We’re going to better understand what the plant needs and make smarter decisions for each one. That will bring us to a point where we can use the same amount of land, much less water, almost no chemicals, much less fertilizer, and still produce more food than we’re producing today. That’s the mission. That’s what excites me.”

Boyer added that his company’s mission is to turn AI into a tool that is as reliable and dependable as GPS is now in the farming industry.

“Twenty-five years ago, GPS was a very complicated technology. You had to connect to satellites and do some crazy computation to define your position. But a few companies brought GPS to a new level of reliability and simplicity. Today, every farmer in the world uses GPS. We think AI can have an even deeper impact than GPS has had on the farming industry, and we want to be the company that makes it available and easy to use for every farmer in the world,” Boyer concluded in the report.

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Weed linked to wheat behind virus that stunts paddy’

Feb 18, 2023, 08:40 IST



‘Weed linked to wheat behind virus that stunts paddy’

Hisar: A team of scientists from the department of plant pathology, Haryana Agricultural University (HAU), engaged in finding out causes of dwarfism in paddy crops (basmati, non-basmati, hybrid etc.), has found that the disease is not only caused by Southern Rice Black Streaked Dwarf Virus (SRBSDV), but also the Rice Gall Dwarf Virus (RGDV).
Information has also been obtained about whom these two viruses, belonging to the spinareoviridae virus group, have made their host.
HAU vice-chancellor professor BR Kamboj said SRBSDV infection has been found more in this disease and this virus has made Pova Anova, a weed of the Rabi season wheat crop, its host which is a matter of concern. There has not been any instance of this virus infecting the wheat crop. Therefore, if the farmer destroys this weed from the wheat crop, the possibility of this disease in the paddy crop next year will almost end. For this, apart from mechanical methods, farmers can also spray weed killer Clodinafop 200 grams and Matribugene 240 grams per acre, VC said.
VC informed that the varsity’s plant pathologist, Vinod Kumar Malik, and biotechnologist Shikha Yashveer had decoded the virus in nucleic acid and coat protein regions. This has been confirmed by the use of virus-specific primers and molecular studies of the S4, S9 and S10 segments of the virus. University scientists O P Lathwal, Promil, Mahavir Singh, Rakesh Kharb, Ankit Judd, Sumit Saini, Manjunath, Vishal and Amit Kumar are working on the problem of dwarfism in paddy, VC said.

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HAU director of research Jeet Ram Sharma said they were regularly studying the path of the virus. Emphasizing on clean farming, Hawa Singh Saharan, head of the department of plant disease, asked for regular cleaning of drains, so that further transfer of virus could be prevented.

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Western Farmer-Stockman

Nate LongWFP-nate-log-juniper-control-web.jpg

Junipers on a hillside are controlled through chaining.

Large populations of the tree can negatively impact sage grouse habitat and diminish sustainability of grazing land.

Heather Smith Thomas | Jul 28, 2022

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Western juniper is a native shrub that grows to tree size, thriving in the Great Basin, which spans most of Nevada, much of Oregon and Utah, and portions of California, Idaho, Wyoming, and Mexico.   

In recent decades, hardy junipers have been dominating vast areas, crowding out other plant species.  Large populations of juniper can negatively impact sage grouse habitat and diminish sustainability of grazing land.

The goal of many rangeland managers has been to restore ecologic balance.  Juniper removal on the Modoc National Forest in California, for instance, is part of an effort to improve sage grouse habitat, but there are many other ecological benefits resulting from removing the encroaching juniper stands.

These trees pull more water from the ground than the surrounding vegetation does, leaving less moisture for the other plants. With loss of understory vegetation in juniper woodlands, there is soil loss and erosion during intense rain storms. They outcompete most other plants; with their efficient root system they consume a lot of water that would have helped the survival of other plants.

Effect on watersheds has been noticed; with increased demand for water by juniper, combined with several years of drought in Northeast California, many springs and streams have dried up.

Removal projects

Kyle Sullivan, District Manager, Soil and Water Conservation District, Grant County, Ore., says there were government projects in earlier years to help ranchers remove juniper; there was funding for mechanical removal—sawing the trees, piling and burning them.  “Logging crews brought equipment to take out the trees, with hand-labor follow-up for the smaller trees,” Sullivan said.

Loggers piled the trees, and after they dried out the landowners burned the piles during winter when there was no risk of fire danger.

“Our Soil and Water Conservation District received grants to try to control juniper with herbicide.  A dozen years ago we did an experiment, cutting incisions into the trunk with a chain saw, then squirted herbicide into the trunk with a spray bottle. But juniper is so bushy that it is difficult to get to the base of the tree,” he said.

The crew tried different herbicides and different concentrations. It was effective for killing the trees, but the time and labor involved didn’t pencil out, economically.  The Forest Service preferred that method, however, because it left the dead trees standing and didn’t tear up the ground or disrupt surrounding vegetation.

A landowner might choose this method, to kill some of the larger trees and keep them from reproducing, but dead trees on the range might be fuel for wildfires.

“If standing trees are limbed high enough, a grass fire might quickly burn through underneath, but many junipers have low branches under the duff which could raise the fire higher off the ground and into the tree itself,” said Sullivan.

Junipers proliferate

“We left a few trees on the landscape to provide shade for livestock and wildlife, but they had to be trees with no berries (seeds).  Juniper trees have genders, and some can have both male and female characteristics.  If a tree isn’t producing berries it doesn’t spread seeds,” he explained.

“We also learned the importance of maintenance after trees are cut/piled/burned, because the seed source is still there.”  The seeds are viable for years, to produce new seedlings.  The problem will re-emerge if you don’t keep after it.

“After you cut them down you may get a new flush of young trees in 7 to 10 years, but you can do periodic controlled burning or remove the young ones, or use herbicide and eventually get rid of most of them.”            

Junipers are tough and hardy, with high survival rate.  If they take over a range or watershed, they can be detrimental.  “Research is still ongoing in central Oregon, looking at the effects of hydrology, and how a canopy of juniper can keep snow from coming to the ground.  This watershed study is providing new information; we realize what an aggressive root system they have.  If there is a high population of junipers, they have a negative effect on the watershed,” he said.

Herbicide pellets can be used for juniper control. Wilburn Ranches in Oregon started using chemical control of juniper invasions on their range pastures a few years ago, with good results. They took photos of trees afterward, showing how it killed them.

Label directions suggest putting one tablet on the ground in the drip zone of the juniper if it is 3 feet tall.  For every additional 3 feet, you add another tablet– up to about 10 feet of tree height.  The pellets can be applied when moisture is sufficient to dissolve them.  The smaller trees tend to die all at once and the larger ones die by degrees until they completely brown and dead.

Cost per tree for this method is lower than using chain saws or heavy equipment, but the herbicide pellets may need to be repeated every 3-4 years to keep juniper contained.  This is another option for people who don’t want to mechanically remove and then burn them.  Ranchers can hike around and distribute the pellets, or do it from horseback while checking cattle, tossing pellets around the outside edges of the junipers. 

Chains and excavators

Sullivan said one method still used in some parts of the West is chaining.  An old ship anchor chain (with huge, heavy links) is secured between two big Cat tractors to mow down the trees.  The heavy chain pulls on the trees and uproots them.

Another method is to tip the juniper tree over with the boom of an excavator.  The machine can then grab it, pick it up and shake the soil off the roots so the trees can be piled easier.  It costs more for this method but has the advantage of uprooting the trees without much damage to the surrounding terrain.  “A machine can also be used to pile them and clean up the area afterward.  This way you get some of the smaller branches that are underneath the soil; they pull up with the tree roots,” he said.

“This is probably one of the more expensive alternatives but leaves a cleaner site.  Depending on your goals, budget, and equipment, one method may be more attractive than another.”

In his region many ranchers use chain saws and cut down the larger trees, then go back later to get the little ones—and pile them all up with machines. 

“We try to keep abreast of research that keeps evolving on the impacts of these plants, and how to deal with them.  Oregon State University has published a number of guidelines with advice on managing western juniper,” Sullivan said.

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India’s Supreme Court mulls impact of green lighting GM crops on peasant woman farm laborers, who will no longer need to hand-weed

Krishnadas Rajagopal | Hindu | December 5, 2022

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Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

The [Indian] Supreme Court on [November 30] expressed concern about the plight of thousands of women agricultural labourers in rural areas, traditionally engaged in de-weeding, who will be part of the human cost if the government permits the commercial cultivation of herbicide-tolerant crops such as GM mustard in India.

“In rural areas, women are experts in removing weeds. They are a part of the labour force in agriculture in India. It brings them employment…” Justice B.V. Nagarathna observed orally while hearing challenges against the environmental clearance given to genetically modified mustard by the government.

Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, the lead judge on the Bench, agreed that women were an integral part of the Indian agricultural landscape, from paddy fields to tea estates, across the country.

“They work in knee-deep water in the fields, bending the whole day and working,” Justice Nagarathna said.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, for a petitioner, said the widespread use of herbicide-tolerant crops would encourage farmers to spray chemical weed-killers.

…“The Supreme Court’s own Technical Expert Committee [TEC] had said that these GM crops were not meant for agriculture in the Indian context. They may be suitable in the western context where there are large farms, but not here,” Mr. Parikh argued.

This is an excerpt. Read the original post here

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Hi-tech farming robot sets about to weed parsnip field

The Robotti is an autonomous tractor which navigates with a satellite-guided accuracy of within 2 cm. It uses attachments for farm operations such as seeding, weeding and spraying. The Danish-built robot is being trialled at Frederick Hiam, a Brandon-based fresh produce business with farms in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. The farms are growing root vegetables including parsnips, potatoes and onions.

Managing director Jamie Lockhart said he wanted to explore mechanised weeding as a way to reduce herbicide use within a ‘more preventative approach to weed control’. “We offered a 40-hectare block as part of the trial,” he said. “The Robotti has drilled [planted] the parsnips on this block and weeded them on several passes. Initially it was about getting confidence in the accuracy and reliability of a fully autonomous system. In this regard the machine hasn’t put a foot wrong and, on several occasions, we left the machine running all night whilst weeding, and the accuracy was perfect.”

Autonomous Agri Solutions will be demonstrating the Robotti machine at the Agri-Tech Week REAP Conference in Cambridgeshire on November 8, 2022.

Source: edp24.co.uk

Photo source: Agrointelli

Publication date: Wed 26 Oct 2022

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Weevil may save Great Britain up to £16.8m a year in management of invasive aquatic fern


Weevil may save Great Britain up to £16.8m a year in management of invasive aquatic fern
The invasive aquatic fern Azolla filiculoides. Credit: CABI

A new CABI-led study suggests that a tiny weevil (Stenopelmus rufinasus) has huge benefits in saving Great Britain up to £16.8m in annual management costs of the invasive aquatic fern Azolla filiculoides.

The research, published in the journal CABI Agriculture and Bioscience, estimates that without any biocontrol the expected yearly costs of managing A. filiculoides would range from £8.4m to £16.9m.

The scientists say that the impacts of naturalized S. rufinasus populations on A. filiculoides alone could be expected to reduce management costs to £800,000 to £1.6m a year.

However, they estimate A. filiculoides management costs to be lower still due to additional augmentative releases of the weevil that take place each summer, resulting in annual management costs of £31,500 to £45,800.

Azolla filiculoides, a type of floating water fern, was introduced to Great Britain at the end of the 19th century for ornamental use in ponds and aquaria. But its introduction into the wild has meant it has spread rapidly throughout England and Wales and to a lesser degree, Scotland.

The invasive aquatic fern outcompetes native species by forming a dense covering on the surface of the water. It blocks out light and can also deoxygenate water. A. filiculoides can also block canals, drains and overflows and may lead to an increased risk of flooding. It can affect irrigation systems—both by blocking their water supply and by reducing water quality.

It has been banned from sale in England and Wales since April 2014.

Its specialist natural enemy, S. rufinasus, was first recorded in 1921. It is suspected to have been introduced from America as a stowaway on A. filiculoides. Stenopelmus rufinasus is also reported to be present in numerous additional European countries where A. filiculoides is present.

The study sought to estimate the management cost savings resulting from the presence of S. rufinasus as a biocontrol agent in Great Britain. This includes the value of additional augmentative releases of the weevil made since the mid-2000s, compared with the expected costs of control in the absence of S. rufinasus.

Corin Pratt, lead author and Invasive Species Management Researcher at CABI, said, “The unintentional introduction of the weevil S. rufinasus to Great Britain is estimated to have resulted in millions of pounds of savings annually in management costs for A. filiculoides.

“Additional augmentative releases of the weevil provide further net cost savings, tackling A. filiculoides outbreaks and bolstering naturalized populations.

“The use of herbicides in the aquatic environment is likely greatly reduced due to A. filiculoides biocontrol. Although somewhat climate-limited at present in Great Britain, climate change may result in even more effective biocontrol of A. filiculoides by S. rufinasus.

“This has been observed in warmer regions such as South Africa, where the plant is no longer considered a threat since the introduction of S. rufinasus.”

The scientists conclude by arguing that in the absence of the specialist weevil S. rufinasus, A. filiculoides could be expected to be the dominant aquatic macrophyte in Great Britain. This would require extensive, costly management and likely widespread use of herbicides in the aquatic environment.

They state that the estimated benefit to cost ratio of augmentative S. rufinasus releases to be of 43.7:1 to 88.4:1.

More information: Corin F. Pratt et al, A century of Azolla filiculoides biocontrol: the economic value of Stenopelmus rufinasus to Great Britain, CABI Agriculture and Bioscience (2022). DOI: 10.1186/s43170-022-00136-0

Provided by CABI

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Grahame Jackson posted a new submission ‘Risk analysis and weed biological control.’


Risk analysis and weed biological control.

Authors: W. M. LonsdaleD. T. BrieseJ. M. CullenAUTHORS INFO & AFFILIATIONS

Publication: Evaluating indirect ecological effects of biological control. Key papers from the symposium ‘Indirect ecological effects in biological control’, Montpellier, France, 17-20 October 1999



Weed biological control and risk analysis are very powerful tools for land management and decision-making respectively. We explore the application of risk analysis to weed biological control. Recent criticisms of weed biological control have mainly centred on non-target impacts, attacks by the biological control agent on species other than the weed. In ecology, these are direct effects because they involve physical interactions between the species concerned. Indirect effects are those in which the species do not physically interact. In biological control terms, indirect effects include, on the positive side, the increase in pasture production or biodiversity resulting from successful biological control. On the negative side, they include the decline of a native species that had used the weed as habitat. The aim of weed biological control is then to maximize the ratio of desirable indirect effects to undesirable direct and indirect effects. Using a risk analysis approach, we show that the problems of weed biological control are less in the domain of science and more in that of communication and consultation. A well-conceived biological control project would aim for wide consultation to agree on the target weed with the community, so that negative effects are viewed as trivial against the positive ones. It would also use highly specific agents to reduce the risk of undesirable direct effects to a minimum. Lastly, biocontrollers themselves would merely be advisers on the decision to release.

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New Extension website helps solve pest and disease problems

November 10, 2022

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new Oregon State University Extension Service website provides a trove of science-based solutions for garden pests, weeds and disease problems in one easy-to-navigate place.

The project was shepherded by Weston Miller, an OSU Extension community horticulturist who got the ball rolling six years ago when collaborators expressed interest and provided funds for what would become the Solve Pest and Weed Problems website.

“Our stakeholders – Metro, the East and West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the city of Gresham – challenged OSU to create a user-friendly pest management resource for the public. Part of my job was to figure out the resources Extension has and pull them together in one place,” Miller said.

Solve Pest and Weed Problems focuses specifically on the Pacific Northwest and prioritizes low-risk approaches. Based on feedback, Miller incorporated household pests, invasive plants, pesticide safety and pollinators, as well as pests and diseases.

“We did extensive planning, including community involvement, user testing, feedback from agencies, nonprofits and many more,” Miller said. “We were able to hire a professional to design the website and do graphic design. Gradually, we kept improving it and building on it.”

The peer-reviewed content is presented in categories with information presented below photos. Clicking on the photo takes you to another page that offers information about identification, look-alikes and specific information on control. High-quality, color photos illustrate each subject.

After compiling Extension resources from sources like the Pacific Northwest Pest Management Handbooks, entries are written by Miller with help from Signe Danler, OSU Extension Master Gardener online horticulture instructor, and other OSU experts. The content is peer reviewed by the OSU Department of Horticulture in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Miller edits the content and posts it on the website. More entries will be added in the future.

To provide more information, the website features links to other OSU Extension resources, as well as to other university-level, science-based sources.

“We hope that people both public and private property managers find practical pest management and prevention,” Miller said. “We want people to use it to make informed decisions for their gardens and public spaces.”

To do that, users will find sections on using less pesticides, pesticide safety, organic pesticides and preventive measures like planting in the right place for the size, water needs, exposure and soil for each plant. Using good selection criteria keeps plants healthy and a healthy plant can fend off pests and diseases, Miller said. The hope, he added, is that people will use less pesticides – or if they do, in a safe manner.

Weeds – from both sides of the Cascades and from throughout the state – get attention. Examples include cheatgrass in eastern and western Oregon; pampas grass on the coast; and tree of heaven, a species of concern statewide. The website includes guides about how to manage landscapes without pesticides or herbicides and 20 pages of pesticide safety guidance.

“We’re putting together material that’s not available in one place with such complete information,” Miller said. “We are super grateful to our partnerships in the broader community who were looking to have a durable information service to meet a fairly defined need. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

About the OSU Extension Service: The Oregon State University Extension Service shares research-based knowledge with people and communities in Oregon’s 36 counties. OSU Extension addresses issues that matter to urban and rural Oregonians. OSU Extension’s partnerships and programs contribute to a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future for Oregon.

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