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Grain bin system
INSECT FIGHT: Using a grain cleaner and providing more airflow can help control insects in organic grain systems.

7 tips to prevent insect infestations without insecticides

Start with a grain cleaner, provide airflow and create a low-oxygen environment.

Nov 14, 2018

Organic grain farmers have much fewer options when it comes to controlling insects post-harvest. That’s where practices such as integrated pest management (IPM) come into play and are crucial to ensuring the crop doesn’t get damaged in the bin.

Several species of beetles and moths, such as the sawtoothed grain beetle or granary weevil, can attack stored grain. Here are seven tips from Penn State Cooperative Extension that can help you ensure your stored organic grain doesn’t fall prey to hungry critters:

1. Use a grain cleaner. Fine materials in grain can attract insects. Proper combine adjustment should be used to reduce the amount of grain breakage, fines and foreign material.

A grain cleaner can be used to improve storability. A good example is a gravity cleaner that allows grain to pass over a screen during housing.

With a perforated auger, grain is conveyed over the auger and the fines are separated. This type of cleaner has limited effectiveness when the auger is operating at 100%

Rotary screens can also be used to separate fines from grains while aspirator precleaners use airflow to remove dust, chaff, husks, awns and other lite materials.

2. Monitor stored grain. Various kinds of traps are available to monitor for stored grain pests. Depending on the pest, lures may include female sex pheromones, male aggregation pheromones or food attractants.

Temperature, carbon dioxide and feeding damage are signs of insect infestation. Insects release heat as they respire, and at high insect densities “hot spots” can be created. You can monitor temperatures using a probe, but hot spots can be very localized and hard to detect.

Increased carbon dioxide concentration in the grain indicates the presence of insects. You can use monitoring tubes, placed in the top and the center of the grain, and sample the air every two weeks.

3. Keep bugs out. There are many ways to keep bugs out of the grain bin.

A small-perforation bin floor will slow the build-up of fines beneath the floor. Stirrers cause fines that can harbor insects to move down and collect at the bottom of the bin.

4. Re-distribute grain for airflow. The top of the grain mass should be level to facilitate air flow. Improper leveling results in moisture wicking up and accumulating in the peaked grain mass.

Even in bins with stirrers, fines tend to concentrate in the center of the bin, potentially reducing air flow in the core and allowing hotspots to develop. The outside edges of the grain may appear to be dry, but the core of the grain mass is moist, creating a habitat that can harbor insects.

Periodically remove grain from the core and redistribute it to the top of the bin.

5. Use vacuum sealing. Hermetic sealing, or vacuum sealing, to generate a low-oxygen condition is allowable for organic grain storage. Oxygen levels of 1% to 2% are insecticidal to all major stored insect pests when applied at common room temperatures for one to four days.

6. Cool stored grain. The use of low-volume airflow rates to cool stored grains (aeration) is an important component of stored grain pest management. Airflow rates are usually specified as 0.1 to 0.5 cubic feet per minute per bushel. Clean grain contributes to uniform airflow and successful drying.

Because many stored grain pests originated in the tropics, they are susceptible to cold temperatures. Most require temperatures above 60 degrees F to reach damaging populations. Some need temperatures above 70 degrees. Therefore, storing grain in a cool place will slow pest development.

Cooling the stored grain mass to between 50 degrees and 55 degrees causes insects to become inactive. Periods of warm fall temperatures can increase the risk of late-season infestations. In spring, the grain mass should be warmed to a minimum of 60 degrees to prevent condensation of moisture on bin walls and subsequent damage from insects and mold.

7. Create a low-oxygen atmosphere. Insects need oxygen to survive. Carbon dioxide or nitrogen, both naturally occurring gases, can be used as fumigants to create a low-oxygen atmosphere. Creating a low-oxygen atmosphere requires specialized equipment and airtight containers, bins or silos.

At 2% oxygen, adult insects can’t survive when maintained for 21 days with a grain temperature above 77 degrees. For grain below 77 degrees, this period is extended to 28 days. The oxygen concentration in the bin or silo must be checked the day after fumigation and may need further purging to remove oxygen that has diffused from the grain.

Source: Penn State University

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Duhok apple harvest ravaged by disease

By Associated Press 10/11/2018


DUHOK, Kurdistan Region – Duhok’s Barwari valley, famous for its high quality apples, has been ravaged by disease and shelling this year. Many farmers’ harvests have been completely destroyed by apple scab disease.

These trees normally produce tonnes of apples every year in the Barwari area of the Duhok governorate, in the northern Kurdish region of Iraq.

But this year production has been drastically hit by issues such as apple scab disease – while Turkish warplanes continue to shell the area.

Suleiman Taha, a farmer from Baz village in Barwari area of Dohuk, says it’s the first time he’s seen the area unable to produce apples.

In his village of Baz alone, there are 150 to 200 acres of land planted with apple trees, which normally yield a production of 15 tonnes of apples per year.

“There used to be bad products in the previous years, but you would have that in one farm or a village, while the rest of the farms and Barwari area were good. But this year, it has been spread all around the area, and not only the Barwari area,” he says.

Turkish shelling and airstrikes on the area have also damaged the harvest.

The warplanes are targeting the fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who have a presence in the northern part of Duhok governorate.

“There are many villages in which the villagers are even unable to enter because of fear of shelling,” says Taha.

“They are afraid to go there in case something happens to them. Several times the people of Sheladize, Deralook and its surrounding areas went back to their properties but were martyred by Turkish airstrikes.”

Many farmers have been forced to abandon their farms, which in turn has led to the spread of apple scab disease, since the farmers have not been able to treat their trees with preventative products.

Emmanuel Zeya, a farmer and the Mukhtar of Jadiduk village says his entire apple harvest, from 2,000 trees, is destroyed.

As well as being hit by disease, he says unusual weather has caused problems.

“As you know, the summer was very hot, and there was less water, and the apples became like this,” he says.

“Also, in spring, when the apples were about to become ripe, it was hit by hailstones which left an impact and resulted in apple scab disease and this year’s harvest is gone.”


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Swapping Pesticides with Beetles Could Put Money in Farmers’ Pockets

By Wei Zhang. Reblogged from Agrilinks.

34096134693_27bfc1e954_bEvery time you see a ladybug—also known as the ladybird beetle—you should tuck it in your wallet as a lucky charm to bring prosperity, according to the folklore of many countries. There’s a grain of truth in the old stories. Research shows that each ladybird in a cotton field in the North China Plain provides an economic benefit to farmers of at least 0.05 yuan, or one U.S. cent. This may not sound like much, but consider: Doubling the current ladybird density in two-thirds of Chinese cotton fields could bring farmers around $300 million per year.The value comes from the ladybird’s hunger for aphids, which destroy cotton plants. Chinese farmers are mostly unaware of the advantages of this form of natural pest control, however, so they generally kill aphids using chemical insecticides. Long seen as the easiest and most affordable pest control method, insecticides are used on a mass scale worldwide.

But chemical insecticide use suppresses the services nature offers for free. Ladybirds are vicious aphid predators. Unleashed onto a field, it is estimated that one ladybird can kill 50 aphids per day, or some 5,000 in its lifetime.

Combining insect sampling and household surveys, our research found significant economic benefits from ladybird beetles (for insect geeks, there are three main species: Harmonia axyridis, Propylea japonica and Coccinella septempunctata). We’ve calculated that each adult beetle provides services worth $0.01 per year, even alongside substantial insecticide use.

Chinese fields host about 13,500 ladybirds per hectare on average. Doubling this density could potentially increase farmers’ income by $93.67 per hectare. Spread that across two-thirds of the cotton acreage in China, and that’s $290.8 million pumped into the economy per year.

Encouraging the proliferation of ladybird beetles could address more than the aphid problem. There are health and environmental benefits to farmers and society if chemical insecticide use is reduced. Excessive use of insecticides by Chinese farmers carries environmental costs as the chemicals infiltrate food, water and ecosystems. Insecticide exposure can cause negative health effects to farm workers, consumers, residents and livestock. Excessive pesticide use also disrupts natural pest suppression systems—killing ladybirds and other beneficial insects—feeding a vicious cycle of increasingly frequent outbreaks as pests develop resistance to chemical treatments.

Finally, pesticides can also undermine the profitability of farms. Insecticide use is expensive and can put farmers on a “pesticide treadmill” where they forgo other solutions. China’s farmers could bolster their long-term bottom line by purchasing less insecticide.

Our research shows that the less pesticides farmers use, the more ladybirds can expand their aphid-killing services. If we cut current, excessive insecticide use of 22.35 kilograms per hectare by three quarters, the marginal value of the ladybirds would rise more than two and a half times, from $6.98 to $17.6 per hectare.

Once such biological control services begin to flourish, farmers may reduce insecticide use even further, though additional incentives may be needed. Meanwhile, the economic value of ladybird beetles and other natural predators may rise, creating the kind of virtuous cycle that sustainable agriculture urgently needs.

These findings provide a strong economic, health and environmental case for policies that encourage farmers to move away from chemicals and provide them more support to reduce pest risks via natural means.

Unfortunately, many farmers and policymakers lack basic knowledge about natural pest control. What can be done? First, researchers and policy makers should continue to quantify and disseminate the hidden benefits of biological pest controls. To reach farmers, agricultural extension services should better explain the health risks and adverse environmental effects of agrochemicals and make communicating findings on natural pest control a priority.

Read the original post on Agrilinks→

Read more: Uncovering the economic value of natural enemies and true costs of chemical insecticides to cotton farmers in China

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This photo booklet has been produced by the CABI-led Plantwise programme (www.plantwise.org) to aid extension officers and other plant health advisors in diagnosing the most common pests, diseases and abiotic problems of coffee around the world. The symptoms presented on a real plant sample can be compared with the photos in this guide to identify possible causes. The booklet is organized into two broad sections, one showing the common insect pests that attack the crop and the other showing the various symptoms of poor health. In the symptoms section, the images are arranged by plant part, with similar-looking symptoms displayed together. Some biotic and abiotic factors cause more than one type of symptom, so there may be multiple images in different parts of the photo booklet for a specific problem. The photos for a particular problem are cross-referenced to make it easy to find all the relevant


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Pest-Smart Practices and Early Warning System under Climate Change (A Manual for Rice and Other Crops)

This manual is intended to provide simple and helpful information, especially to farmers and extension agents, in solving pests and diseases issues on rice production in the context of climate change. The publication tackles: the effects of climate change on agriculture; effects of climatic factors on the development of pests and diseases; and importance of an Early Warning System and the pest-smart interventions and recommendations to alleviate problems due to pests and diseases.

Published on



  • Costa, Arnaud
  • Thanarajoo, Sathis Sri
  • Sivapragasam, Annamalai

“Pest-Smart Practices and Early Warning System under Climate Change” Manual for Rice is now available for free download as PDF file on the CCAFS website.



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New Zealand Herald

Mite introduced to control one of region’s worst weeds

10 Nov, 2018 5:00pm

3 minutes to read
Eradicating old man's beard in Whanganui in 2014 were (from left) Horizons pest plant officer Neil Gallagher, Horizons councillor Rod Pearce and volunteer Ann Handley. Photo / Stuart Munro
Eradicating old man’s beard in Whanganui in 2014 were (from left) Horizons pest plant officer Neil Gallagher, Horizons councillor Rod Pearce and volunteer Ann Handley. Photo / Stuart Munro

One of the country’s most noxious weeds may have just met its match.

Horizons Regional Council, on behalf of the National Biocontrol Collective, has been successful in its bid to be the first organisation in the world to use a mite for biological control against the invasive weed old man’s beard.

The gall mite Aceria vitalbae has been cleared by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to be imported and distributed within New Zealand. The import will mark a world first for a country attempting to control old man’s beard by introducing an insect from its northern hemisphere home range.

Horizons environmental programme co-ordinator Craig Davey says the council has invested heavily in the fight to date.

“Old man’s beard cloaks vegetation, ultimately killing other plant species such as our native trees and plants that make up our natural biodiversity,” he said.

“Every year Horizons spends more than $500,000 controlling the pest by spraying, cutting and supporting community efforts to do the same. To date this has stopped the spread of old man’s beard, however we are always looking at what more can be done.”

The council has attempted other forms of biocontrol including a sawfly, leaf miner and fungus, but they haven’t been very successful. Davey is excited by prospect of using the gall mites, which have been successful with other pest plants.

Importing the gall mite is the culmination of 10 years of hard work organising funding, rigorous testing and going through a thorough EPA application process to ensure the agent only affects the intended host, Davey said.

“Biological control is a technique used worldwide to restore balance between a weed and the environment by recruiting some of its key natural enemies. Pest plants that have been introduced to New Zealand are often not considered a weed in their home country because insects or diseases keep them in check.”

The introduced mite will form galls on the host plant, which the plant will redirect resources to, reducing its capacity to flower, produce leaves and photosynthesise.

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GIANT swarms of ladybirds hit British homes


Like something out of an extremely low-budget horror film, they are coming, in swarms – swarms of ladybirds.

Harlequin ladybirds are entering UK homes by the hundred, by the thousand in some cases – by the tens of thousands if you really want to push it – and there is a danger they might stain your furniture.

With their numbers seemingly boosted by the summer heatwave, they have been seen taking over windowsills, swarming over the headquarters of a wildlife trust, even infesting the bedroom of one of the very scientists who is working to control their spread.

And these are ladybirds of the alien (species) kind.

Originally from Asia, they have reached our shores from North America via mainland Europe. Now they are coming over here, stealing our native ladybirds’ niche in the environment, eating their food and forcing some species like the two-spot ladybird into scarcity.

And they have a sexually-transmitted disease, some of them – a species of laboulbeniales fungus that they spread when mating.

The harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis, is also known as the Halloweenladybird, and right now it is certainly causing alarm, (albeit mostly of the hammed up, mildly ironic variety).

“Attack of the ladybirds update,” said PR manager Helen Ablett as a swarm of harlequin ladybirds scuttled about her windowsill. “It’s officially out of hand, I’ve lost control of the room.”

“Attack of the ladybirds at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park,” reported Clare George-Hilley from southwest London. “Incredible scenes of hundreds of thousands of ladybirds flying in the air, on people, on walls, pillars.”

From the official twitter account of the Royal Parks of London came the plea: “We’re being invaded: help!”

At least the people from the Sussex Wildlife Trust were able to shed some light on what was happening  – despite the ladybirds crawling all over the wall of their HQ.

“Ladybirds,” they said, “tend to gather together at this time of year, looking for cracks and crevices to hibernate [in]over winter.”

And with more than 50 of the insects sheltering in her bedroom, Professor Helen Roy, co-organiser of the UK and Harlequin Ladybird Surveys, was well placed to explain that the species most likely to be seen entering homes to hibernate was the harlequin.

Other UK ladybird species prefer to hibernate outdoors, in trees or hiding among fallen leaves.

These native ladybird species are coming under increasing threat from the harlequin.

Urging people to report sightings, the Harlequin Ladybird Survey warns: “The harlequin ladybird is the most invasive ladybird on Earth.”

Its march across the globe began in the 1980s when harlequin ladybirds were taken from their native Asia to North America in an attempt at biological control of aphid pests that were eating crops.

The harlequin swiftly became the most common ladybird species on the North American continent.

But it was still introduced into parts of Europe in another attempt at aphid control.

In 2004 harlequin ladybirds somehow reached Britain, either being transported by accident or being blown across the sea by strong winds.

The harlequin poses a threat to many of the 46 native British ladybird species because it can easily out-compete them for food. Its appetite is also so voracious that some harlequins supplement their aphid diets by eating the eggs of other ladybirds.

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