Archive for the ‘Weeds’ Category

Contribute to CABI’s new Plant Health Cases

Real-life examples of plant health in practice. 

About Plant Health Cases

Fresh green soy plants on the field in spring. Rows of young soybean plants . High quality photo

CABI, together with Editors in Chief Lone Buchwaldt, David B. Collinge, and Boyd A. Mori is embarking on a new type of online publication called Plant Health Cases.

Plant Health Cases will be a curated, peer-reviewed collection of real-life examples of plant health in practice. This will be an invaluable resource for students, lecturers, researchers, and research-led practitioners. We will be developing cases in all areas relevant to plant health, including:

  • plant diseases
  • plants pests
  • weeds
  • environmental factors
  • agronomic practices
  • diagnosis, prevention, monitoring and control
  • international trade and travel

What is a Case Study?

A Plant Health Case is a relatively short publication with a well-defined example of research in plant health, e.g. a study which results in reduced impact from a disease or pest problem. Cases should be between 3000 and 5000 words long, and can include photos, figures and tables. They should be written in an engaging style that is both science-based and accessible using a limited number of references. Importantly, each case should suggest points for discussion to broaden the reader’s horizon, inspire critical thinking and lead to interactions in the classroom or field.

Interested in Contributing to Plant Health Cases?

We are currently looking for contributions of case studies, and we welcome your ideas! You may have existing case study material ready prepared for use in teaching, or a good example of research in plant health which could be easily adapted to our template. For further information and guidance on how to submit your idea for a case study please see here: https://www.cabi.org/products-and-services/plant-health-cases/

Your submission will be peer-reviewed, and a DOI assigned at the time of publication similar to your other scientific publications. The corresponding author will receive £100 upon acceptance of the final case study. 

Publication Plan

We’re aiming to launch Plant Health Cases in mid-2023. Our case studies will offer practical, real-life examples in one easily searchable platform. All users will be able to search, browse and read summaries of case studies. Full text access will be available via individual or institutional subscription, or by purchasing a single case study.

Further Information

Please get in touch with Rebecca Stubbs, Commissioning Editor, CABI


About CABI

CABI is a not-for-profit, scientific research, international development and publishing organisation. Unlike other publishers, we use our surpluses to support scientific and rural development projects that help improve the lives of the world’s poorest people, which means that by publishing with us, you are helping to improve the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. Please visit our website at www.cabi.org

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UAF VC Urges Scientists To Discover New Biological Control For Parthenium

 Sumaira FH  Published September 09, 2022 | 07:48 PM

UAF VC urges scientists to discover new biological control for Parthenium

University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan has urged agricultural scientists to discover new biological control for Parthenium as it is spreading at an alarming rate across the country


FAISALABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 9th Sep, 2022 ) :University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan has urged agricultural scientists to discover new biological control for Parthenium as it is spreading at an alarming rate across the country.

He was addressing an international seminar on “Biological Control of Parthenium hysterophorus in Pakistan using stem boring weevil (Listronotus setosipennis)”, organised by the university in collaboration with the CABI Regional Bioscience Centre Pakistan.

He said that Parthenium was spreading rapidly both in rural and urban landscapes in the country after crossing continents. It was highly-invasive due to its prolific seed production, flower production within four weeks of germination, tolerance to varying climatic conditions, and the production of allelochemicals that affect the growth of nearby plants.

He said that agri scientists were duty bound accelerate their efforts for control Parthenium in addition to creating awareness among the farming community about destructive effects of this weed so that it could be controlled at maximum extent.

Dr. Philip Weyl, Weed Biocontrol Specialist from CABI Switzerland during his address said that Listronotus was a natural enemy of Parthenium, from the weed’s native range of Central America. Listronotus was a nocturnal weevil that layed its eggs primarily in the flowers of Parthenium where newly hatched larvae tunnel into the stem and continue to feed, eventually exiting at the base of the stem to pupate in the soil. Several larvae feeding in the stem can kill Parthenium rosettes and mature plants.

Pro-Vice Chancellor UAF Prof Dr Anas Sarwar Qureshi also addressed the seminar and called for innovative approaches to address the issues of the agricultural sector.

He said that excessive usage of chemicals on crops was creating health and environmental hazards. He said that adoption of latest scientific trends was need of the hour to cope with agricultural challenges at national level because this sector was directly linked to poverty alleviation.

Chairman Entomology UAF Prof Dr Sohail Ahmad highlighted the importance of research needed around the biocontrol of parthenium and other invasive weeds.

He said that the country faced the catastrophe due to heavy floods in which we had lost vast range of agriculture. The university had also mapped out a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate this sector in flood hit areas, he added.

Abdul Rehman from CABI said that keeping in view the destructive impacts of Parthenium weed, CABI initiated a biological control programme in Pakistan in 2017. For this purpose, CABI’s established a new quarantine laboratory at its Rawalpindi centre in Pakistan to enhance its capabilities to manage Parthenium weed.

The new quarantine facility allowed scientists to investigate a range of biological control options including the stem boring weevil Listronotus setosipennis.

Dr. Ijaz Ashraf from UAF shared updates on an awareness campaign for control of Parthenium hysterophorus in Pakistan and said that university students were on front foot to sensitize stakeholders and communities on negative impacts of Parthenium.

He vowed that such awareness-raising interventions around invasive species management and other agricultural challenges would be continued in close collaboration with CABI.

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Weedy rice has become herbicide resistant through rapid evolution

Aggressive, herbicide-resistant weed is a threat in nation’s largest rice production region

Date:September 8, 2022Source: Washington University in St. Louis

Summary: Weedy rice is a closely related cousin of crop rice. It aggressively competes with cultivated rice in the field, leading to loss of yield and reductions in harvest quality that compromise market value. Biologists used whole-genome sequences of 48 contemporary weedy rice plants to show how herbicide resistance evolved by gene flow from crop rice. Almost all other cases of herbicide resistance in agricultural weeds result from selection of tolerant genotypes in the weed species.Share:


In a paper published Sept. 8 in the journal Communications Biology, scientists from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Arkansas report that a crop pest called weedy rice has become widely herbicide resistant in regions where herbicide-resistant rice is planted. The study highlights challenges facing U.S. rice farmers when they battle a weedy enemy that is closely related to a desirable crop plant.

The genetic investigation was conducted with samples gathered in rice fields in Arkansas, where almost 50% of the nation’s rice is grown.

Weedy rice is a closely related cousin of crop rice. It aggressively competes with cultivated rice in the field, leading to loss of yield and reductions in harvest quality that compromise market value. Weedy rice infestations cause an estimated $45 million in economic losses in the United States each year and hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide.

Biologists used whole-genome sequences of 48 contemporary weedy rice plants to show how herbicide resistance evolved by gene flow from crop rice. Almost all other cases of herbicide resistance in agricultural weeds result from selection of tolerant genotypes in the weed species. Just 20 years after herbicide-resistant rice was first adopted in the southern United States, the majority of fields with a history of herbicide-resistant rice cultivation have weedy rice plants that are also herbicide resistant.

“Throughout its nearly 200-year history in the United States, weedy rice had a very low rate of outcrossing with cultivated rice,” said Marshall Wedger, a postdoctoral research associate in biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University and first author of the study. “We found that U.S. weedy rice has persisted through herbicide pressure with the survival of those few plants that outcross, consequently acquiring the herbicide- resistance trait.”

“Technological changes in U.S. rice farming since the 2000s have led to a complete genetic revolution in the makeup of the weedy rice that infests U.S. fields,” said Kenneth Olsen, professor of biology at Washington University and senior author on the study.

“In the last 20 years, weedy rice has gone from being very genetically distinct from U.S. crop varieties to nowadays mostly being derived from crop-weed hybridization,” Olsen said. “The weeds are grabbing certain traits from the crop that are beneficial to them, including herbicide resistance.”

Weeds seize their moment

Weedy rice is a scourge of cultivated rice production around the world. But up until the early 2000s, weedy rice in U.S. fields rarely interbred with the kinds of rice that were commonly grown in this country.

Crop rice and weedy rice are the same species, so they are able to interbreed, or hybridize. Their rate of hybridization rate is usually low — generally less than 1% — because rice is self-pollinated.

But something happened that changed the centuries-old dynamic between these two closely related plants. Starting in the early 2000s, two new kinds of crop rice were adopted in U.S. fields. One was a new hybrid rice that offered substantially enhanced yield, compared with traditional inbred (self-pollinating) rice cultivars. The other was a new kind that had been tweaked to be tolerant to a certain kind of herbicide. These so-called Clearfield™ cultivars allowed farmers to plant rice and then apply chemicals to their fields to kill weedy rice and other agricultural weeds without harming the crop.

As early as 2004, just two years after the new rice was adopted locally, Arkansas farmers already were reporting some cases of herbicide resistance in weedy rice. Such resistant plants were likely outcrosses with herbicide-resistant rice.

“The situation is somewhat analogous to human health and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens. Widespread use of antibiotics ends up strongly selecting for the rapid evolution of the drug-resistant strains,” Olsen said. “With weedy rice, herbicide-resistant weeds were being detected just a couple of years after herbicide-resistant rice was first commercialized.”

How did it happen? For gene flow from a crop into a weedy relative to occur, the two have to be growing in close enough physical proximity for pollen transfer.

“The herbicide-resistant weedy rice plants are the products of outcrossing with herbicide-tolerant crop,” said Nilda Roma Burgos, professor of weed physiology at University of Arkansas and a co-author of the study. “Outcrossing occurs when weedy rice is not controlled 100% by the herbicide and the remaining weedy rice plants flower at the same time as the herbicide-tolerant rice crop.”

Rice and weedy rice certainly grow in the same fields. However, it was the hybrid rice’s pesky habit of producing volunteers — that is, successfully developing and dropping seeds that overwinter and then emerge as new plants in subsequent years — that opened a door for weedy rice.

The crop volunteers grew up exhibiting variable traits, including changes to flowering timing that made it much more likely that they would swap pollen with weedy rice.

“As a de-domesticated weedy relative, weedy rice has always been able to outcross with cultivated rice. Based on our results, this ability to interbreed is what led to most of the herbicide resistance that we see today,” Wedger said.

A uniquely challenging year for growers

The findings from this new study are being reported during a uniquely challenging year for Arkansas rice farmers. Problems with the global supply chain, as well as increases in the costs of key crop inputs such as fertilizer, have made growing rice more difficult and expensive.

At the same time, global climate change is having local effects on the timing of when rice can be planted. This year, farmers had to cram in planting that usually takes place over a period of four weeks into a much-shortened window. Also this year, nighttime temperatures in northeastern Arkansas were stubbornly high during the months of July and August, with possible negative effects on rice yields. Only time will tell what the 2022 harvest, beginning this month, will bring.

One thing is certain, though: The rapid adaptation of weedy rice to herbicide application serves as yet another example of the dangers of relying on single methods of control for agricultural pests, study authors said.

“How quickly a resistant weedy rice population builds up to a point where the herbicide is no longer useful depends on how the producer manages the herbicide-tolerant rice technology,” Roma Burgos said. “There are best management practices guidelines that help growers avoid resistance evolution for a long time, if implemented.”

“Just like in the case of antibiotic resistance, the rise of resistance to this particular herbicide will be met with a new technology that relies on a new herbicide,” Wedger said. “New herbicide-resistant cultivars are already in development, so I expect this process to repeat.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis. Original written by Talia Ogliore. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Marshall J. Wedger, Nilda Roma-Burgos, Kenneth M. Olsen. Genomic revolution of US weedy rice in response to 21st century agricultural technologiesCommunications Biology, 2022; 5 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s42003-022-03803-0

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 Grahame Jackson

 Sydney NSW, Australia

 For your information

 2 days ago

Pacific Pests, Pathogens & Weeds version 11

Dear Everyone

There is a new version of the Pacific Pests, Pathogens & Weeds out for mobile devices – phones and tablets. You can find it for free at the Glogle Play and Apple Stores. There are another 30 fact sheets and some amendments to others. 

If you want to see what’s new go to the About this App on the main page and it tells you.



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Using electricity to remove persistent weeds

by Cambridge University Press

Weed zapping
The Weed Zapper. Credit: the weed zapper.com

Researchers from the University of Missouri recently conducted two field studies to explore the effectiveness of electricity in weed control. They used a tractor attachment called The Weed Zapper to electrocute eight types of weeds common in soybean crops, including herbicide-resistant waterhemp.

The first study showed that control was more effective in the later stages of weed growth and was most closely related to plant height and the moisture in the plant at the time of electrocution. Once the weeds had set seed, the treatments reduced viability by 54 to 80 percent across the weed species evaluated. A second study showed electrocution reduced late-season, herbicide-resistant waterhemp plants by 51 to 97 percent.

At some stages of growth, the soybean crops exhibited yield losses of 11 to 26 percent following electrocution treatments—though researchers say those results likely represent a worse-case scenario. In late-season treatments, for example, the clear height differential between waterhemp and the soybean canopy means the electrocution device can treat the weed without sustained contact with the crop.

The net takeaway: When used as part of an integrated control program, electrocution can eliminate many late-season, herbicide-resistant weed escapes in soybean crops and reduce the number and viability of weed seeds that return to the soil seedbank.

The research was published in Weed Technology.

Explore further

Examining the impact of herbicide-resistant crops on weed management

More information: Haylee Schreier et al, The Impact of Electrocution Treatments on Weed Control and Weed Seed Viability in Soybean, Weed Technology (2022). DOI: 10.1017/wet.2022.56

Provided by Cambridge University Press 

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Soil Health and Pest Management: Challenges in the European Union



Jackie Pucci of AgriBusiness Global sat down with Dr. Arben Myrta, Corporate Development Manager with Certis Belchim B.V., based in Italy, to discuss developments in soil health and pest management solutions at the company and wider trends he is witnessing in the space.

Dr Arben Myrta, Certis Belchim B.V.
Quality produce with good soil pest management
Damage by Fusarium wilt in melon
Destroyed tomato plants from the attack of Meloidogyne spp.
Damaged roots of tomato by the nematode Meloidogyne spp.
Nematode damage in carrots from Meloidogyne spp.

Can you talk about some of the key developments in ‘soil health management’ in agriculture and what is driving adoption in Europe?

Soil health in its broad scientific definition considers its capacity, thanks to biotic and abiotic components, to function as a vital living ecosystem to sustain plants and animals. A soil may be healthy in terms of the functioning of its eco-system but not necessarily for crop production. In agriculture, good soil pest management remains a cornerstone for the quantity and quality of production at farm level. When farmers cultivate the same plants for a long time in the same soil without crop rotations or other agronomic measures, the soil starts to evidence nutritional and phytopathological problems for the plants. This is more evident in horticulture, and particularly, in protected crops in Europe, where this problem is of major importance.

In the past, in Europe, soil pest management in horticulture was mostly covered by chemical fumigation, lead first by methyl bromide (MB). MB was later globally banned for depleting the ozone layer, while other fumigants, which were intended to replace it, were not approved during the regulatory renewal process, thus creating a gap between the farmers’ needs and the possibilities to have adequate solutions for their cropping.  Meanwhile, in the last decades there has also been huge progress in research and technology, developing more effective biorational soil products (beneficial microorganisms, such as fungi, bacteria, etc.., plant extracts, etc..) and increased public awareness around human health and the environment, followed by more restrictive legislation on the use of chemicals in agriculture.

Driven by the legislation and the general attention of society on the use of plant protection products in agriculture, the industry has been proactive in looking for new solutions with safer tox and eco-tox profile, focusing on biorational products, whose number, as new plant protection products for the control of soil-borne pests and diseases, is continuously increasing in the EU.

How important do you see soil health and soil pest management in the complete picture of agricultural productivity, and how has that view changed?

Soil health and good soil pest management practices in crop production have always been considered important. In Europe, the level of attention and knowledge on this topic has been higher among professionals and farmers working in horticulture, the ornamentals industry, nurseries and particularly protected crops, basically everywhere where long crop rotations are not easily practiced, and pest-infested soils become a big problem for the farmers.

The rapid banning or limitation of several traditional synthetic products used to control soil pests raised the question for field advisors and farmers of how to deal with soil problems in the new situation. In recent years European farmers have been facing particular difficulties in controlling plant-parasitic nematodes.

Biorational products available today in EU countries represent a very good tool for the management of several soil pests in many crops and targets, but are still not sufficiently effective to guarantee full satisfaction to the growers in important crops like protected fruiting vegetables, strawberry, carrots, potato, ornamentals, etc., which explains why ‘emergency uses’ are still granted at EU country level following the request of grower associations to cover the needs of their farmers. The continuous increase in the numbers of new biorational products in the future, and particularly the innovative formulations that will follow, will be of paramount importance for their role in soil pest management.

A second, but important obstacle, is the generally limited knowledge on soil components (including its fertility and capacity to suppress pests by beneficial microorganisms) and the correct use of the biorational products, which cannot be expected to be effective quickly or be used as solo products, as the ‘old’ chemicals were. They should be seen more in programs with other soil management solutions, as recommended by the integrated production guidelines. Here, a further important obstacle is the lack of an effective public extension service to advise farmers, which is limited or totally lacking in many European Countries.

Everybody in the EU is now convinced that soil management in the future will rely on biorational and integrated solutions, but the question is how to reach this objective gradually, being pragmatic and reliable, balancing the environmental, economic and agricultural perspective. Legislation always steers the direction of progress but should be carefully considering the real product capabilities to make it happen in a short time and not focusing on ‘emergency situations’ as has now been the case for more than a decade.

What are some of the perceptions, either correct or incorrect, and other challenges you are dealing with in the region with respect to products for soil health?

This market has seen a rapid change from chemistry to biorational solutions, but in the meantime is facing a lot of challenges in order to meet the expectations of the farmers for quantity and quality of produce. This topic is widely discussed in dedicated scientific forums like that of the International Society of Horticultural Sciences, of which the last International Symposium on Soil and Substrate Disinfestation was held in 2018 in Crete, Greece. A dedicated round table was organized with soil experts to discuss the important challenges faced by the European growers due to the lack of plant protection solutions for an effective control of several soil pests, most of all nematodes. I participated in that round table discussion, whose main conclusions were the following concerns, considered as target actions for the scientific community:

  • the farmer needs various tools for soil disinfestation (SD) in the light of the limited current arsenal of SD tools;
  • the lengthy and unpredictable European registration process (sometimes more than 10 years from dossier submission to the first national approval) of new plant protection products (including biorational) and the cautious approach of EU regulation, as well as restrictions imposed, has led to a reduction of active ingredients available in the past years;
  • a more effective and faster evaluation system is needed, especially for naturally occurring and low risk products (biological, plant extracts, etc.). That is, all products which are essential for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs;
  • following the implementation of Regulation EC 1107/2009, the only tool available to fill the gaps in local production systems is Art. 53 of the above-mentioned Regulation, which provides “derogations” for exceptional authorizations of plant protection products. Such authorizations increased exponentially in the last years, indicating that existing solutions in the European market are not considered sufficient;
  • the above-mentioned EU Regulation has a high socio-economic impact on various production systems in Europe and a Spanish case shows clearly the importance of maintaining a sustainable agricultural activity in local communities that, in the case of protected crops area, includes 13% of the active population employed in agriculture;
  • several European agricultural sectors are affected as the EU authority is allowing increased importation from extra-EU countries, considered unfair competition due to their more flexible registration system for plant protection products than that of the EU;
  • reduced capacity of soil pest research, where experts are retired and not being replaced, alongside weak, or in many areas non-existent, extension services together are causing the loss of soil knowledge and good advice for our farmers. Today, soil diagnosis is frequently completely lacking or insufficient before any soil pest and crop management decisions are taken.

The clear message from the scientific experts at that meeting was that these issues must be correctly addressed at all levels of stakeholders, in such a way that all available tools, including sustainable use of soil disinfestation, may be used in a combined IPM system to allow sustainable production in Europe.

What are some of the most exciting developments at Certis Belchim in soil health and pest management?

Since the establishment of Certis Europe in 2001, we have focused on soil pest and disease management. In 2003, Certis built the first CleanStart program providing integrated solutions for sustainable soil management, combining cultural, biological and chemical approaches. After more than a decade, in the mid-2010s, the CleanStart integrated approach started combining biological and chemical inputs with agronomic services (training to farmers and field advisors, soil pest diagnosis support for partner farms and stewardship product advice for applicators and/or farmers) to provide sustainable soil management for the future, aligned with the principles of the Sustainable Use of pesticides as per the EU Directive. All these activities were carried out successfully thanks to a wide international network created with many research institutes across Europe on soil pest management topics. This approach facilitated our participation in soil research projects funded also by the EU. Thanks to this experience we have been able to prepare and share many publications and communications, in particular the coordination for several years of an International Newsletter on Soil Pest Management (CleanStart).

Last year we were also granted a SMART Expertise funding from the Welsh Government, which is co-founded by Certis, in a research project lead by Swansea University, with Certis Belchim B.V. the industry partner, alongside major Welsh growers, Maelor Forest Nurseries Ltd and Puffin Produce Ltd. This project, now ongoing, looks to develop new and innovative products to control soil pests, primarily nematodes.

Thanks to this team involvement on soil topics, our present soil portfolio includes several biorational solutions such as Trichoderma spp. (TriSoil), Bacillus spp. (Valcure), garlic extract (NemGuard), etc. and this is continuously increasing through our research and development pipeline. With the soil biorational products we have developed a good knowledge not only on the products, but also in their interaction with biotic and abiotic soil components and with other similar products.

Our new company, Certis Belchim, in the future will continue to be particularly interested in this market segment and will be focusing mostly on biorational products. Our plans mainly encompass: (i) label extension to more crops and targets for the existing products; (ii) development and registration of new active ingredients for the control of soil borne pathogens, insects and nematodes; (iii) development of innovative formulations for soil use with focus on slow-release; (iv) field validation of effective programs with bio-solutions and other control methods.

In all these research and development activities, supported by the long experience we have in such topics, we are looking to generate our own IP solutions for soil pest management.

How have you seen this space evolve over the past of years, and what are you expecting the next years will bring?

From a technical perspective, we expect the nematode problems to increase globally in the future. This is due in part to the gradual global increase in average temperature, now recorded over recent decades, which will allow the most damaging nematodes, Meloidogyne spp., to establish at higher elevation and higher latitudes while in areas already infested, they will develop for a longer damaging period of time, thus leading to larger nematode soil population densities by the end of the crop cycle and, in turn, to greater damage to the succeeding crops.

From a regulatory perspective in Europe, if the approval process for new effective nematicides is not shortened and remains as restrictive as today, less effective solutions will be available, and there will be more reductions in rates and crops on which their use is permitted (e.g. not every year). This again will certainly lead to an increase in the severity of the nematodes that in many areas could be overlooked.

From a quarantine perspective, the globalization of trade has facilitated the introduction into Europe of new damaging nematodes and diseases and pests in general, events which are expected to increase in the future. The most critical situation can occur in protected and nursery crops, and for the production of healthy propagating material of annual crops, such as potato seed, bulbs and seeds of bulbous plant crops, including flowers, strawberry runners, woody nursery plants, of both crop and ornamental plants, and in all crops for which quarantine issues must be considered, especially when seeds, bulbs and any kind of plant propagating material are to be exported out of the EU.

The expectation is also that positive results will come from public research (more focus on resources is needed) and private industry where work is ongoing to bring to the market new biorational solutions and innovative methods with higher efficacy in controlling soil pests and to fulfill the increasing needs of this market. However, this will only be realized if regulatory hurdles are reduced in the EU, for example for low risk biorational solutions.

How are external factors (e.g., soaring input costs) impacting the adoption of these products?

Today agriculture and plant protection products, like the whole economy, are affected by higher prices due to the increased cost of energy and raw materials globally. Considering that the costs in agricultural production are already high and sometimes, those of soil pest control are not applicable for several crops, any further increase in production costs may lead to the abandonment of effective solutions, resulting in additional increase in the complexities of soil problems on our farms. This trend, if allowed to persist, will severely affect our agricultural sector.

This said, there will also be a potential increase in the new solutions entering the market in the coming years, which will face higher costs during development and the registration process as well.

From a technical perspective, the only way to reduce such risks is to support farmers with the right knowledge on how to use new soil products correctly (dose rate, timing and method of application, etc..) and increase cost effectiveness.

Can you share highlights of research and case studies that your company has conducted with respect to soil health?

Our company has been involved in many research and market studies dedicated to the soil pest management sector. The last important one was ‘Sustainability of European vegetable and strawberry production in relation to fumigation practices,’ prepared by a European team of independent soil experts. The aim of the study was to understand technically the role and economic impact of chemical soil fumigation in key European areas of vegetable and strawberry production. Three cases of representative crops were investigated: strawberries, solanaceous/cucurbitaceous crops cultivated under protected conditions and carrots as a relevant open field crop.

The study concluded that vegetable production is a key agricultural sector in Europe: including high-value crops like solanaceous and cucurbitaceous crops produced under protected conditions (tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, courgettes, cucumbers and melons), carrots and strawberries, the production value at farmer level is €12.5 billion; the cultivated area involved is roughly 330,000 ha. The importance of these crops is even greater when the entire food value chain, in economic and social terms, is also considered.

High standards in terms of food quality/safety and certificated production, along with affordable consumer prices and consistent availability across the seasons are demanded of European vegetable production and, as a consequence, are the drivers for the growers who have to protect such crops effectively and economically. The growers face very significant issues deriving from soil-borne pests, which are the key limiting factor to achieving quality and economically sustainable yields. As strongly indicated by farmers and crop experts, among the soil-borne pests, nematodes present the most impactful and frequent challenges.

According to the survey carried out in key EU countries (Spain, Italy, France, Belgium,…), the most common soil management practices for vegetable crops and strawberries are: chemical fumigation, crop rotation, resistant cultivars and rootstocks, followed by soil-less systems, non-fumigant treatments, soil solarization, biological products, organic soil amendments, catch and cover crops.

This shows clearly that soil pest management today and in the near future will rely on IPM systems combining and rotating different management practices, with a different degree of implementation depending on the cropping system.

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BCPC’s GM/Biotech Crops Report – April 2022

5th April 2022

  • GM/Biotech Crops Monthly Reports (BELOW) form part of BCPC’s free three-tier Biotech Crops Info service.
  • This service also includes a weekly round-up of news from around the globe – see BCPC Newslink GM Crops section.
  • Plus – Free access database on over 300 GM/biotech products covering 23 crops in the global market visit BCPC’s GM/Biotech Crops Manual – Register here for free access.
  • Already registered? Click here

GM/Biotech Crops Monthly Report April 2022

Lettuce in space

Astronauts that spend a long time in space can suffer from a loss of bone density due to the reduced gravity but now a team at the University of California have developed a genetically-modified lettuce that produces a drug that can offset this loss and that can be grown in space to provide the astronauts with fresh green leaves to eat. Pic: Mel Edwards. Full Story.

Antibiotics on crops

While Europe bans neonicotinoids to ensure no harmful effects to bees, America is spraying apple and pear orchards with streptomycin to control the bacterial disease fire blight. A study has shown that bees exposed to the streptomycin are less active and collect less pollen than those that are not exposed to the antibiotic.
Full Story.

An elixir of youth

Some people try blood transfusions from young people to recapture that youthful zest for life and now a study has produced some evidence supporting that hope. Young mice blood contains packets of chemicals (extracellular vesicles) budded off from dividing cells that, when injected in to old mice, restores grip strength, stamina and motor coordination. Sadly the effect wears off after a couple of months but another injection can restore it.
Full story

BT maize resistant to stem borer attack

An evaluation of BT maize in Uganda has confirmed a reduction of leaf damage and stem attack that has led to yield increases of 30 – 80%.
Full Story.

Salt-tolerant cotton

A relative of Arabidopsis has yielded a trait that can be used to confer salt tolerance to cotton which could allow the crop to be grown on more land but could also boost yields in areas where it is already grown.
Full Story

Herbicide-tolerant tomatoes

Scientists in Korea have used gene editing to alter three enzymes in tomatoes. The benefits of changes to PDS and EPSPS enzymes are unclear but the changes to the ALS enzyme can confer tolerance of ALS herbicides similar to the naturally-occurring tolerance recently introduced in sugar beet.
Full Story

Potato genome decoded

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute and the Ludwig Maximillian University have decoded the entire genome of potatoes and this knowledge is to be used to develop improved varieties for future cropping. The following link takes you to the German text which can be translated by computer.
Full Story

Gene expression imbalance boosts wheat yields

Researchers at Kansas University have found that varying the expression of various genes in wheat can affect the grain size and final yields. This knowledge can possibly be used to optimise yields of new varieties.
Full Story

Control of Fall Army Worm

Pilot studies in Brazil have shown that release of Oxitec’s ‘Friendly’ male army worms can reduce the populations of army worms due to the males carrying a male only trait and that this reduction will help to protect the Bt maize that is grown there from resistance developing in the wild population. It is very target specific and has no effect on other species such as bees.
Full Story

USDA approved gene-edited cattle

The USDA has decided that gene-edited beef cattle that have shorter hair than unedited cattle pose no safety concerns and can be marketed without waiting for a specific approval:
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Europe approves transgenic maize with stacked traits

The EFSA finds no safety concerns in GM maize with stacked traits for insect resistance and tolerance of glyphosate and glufosinate. This permits the import of these crops but it still does not allow them to be grown in Europe.
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Stripe rust resistance in wheat

An international team has identified the specific gene that confers resistance to stripe rust in the African bread wheat variety ‘Kariega’ and now this trait can be transferred to other varieties.
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Gene-silencing for weed control

Colorado University has developed a spray that contains antisense oligonucleotides that penetrate the leaves of the weed Palmer amaranth and silence essential genes in the weed. Palmer amaranth has developed resistance to a number of herbicides but this spray is specific to this weed and has no effect on the crop or non-target organisms.
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Nutritional Impact of regenerative farming

The University of Washington has compared crops grown on land under regenerative farming management with crops grown on adjacent conventionally farmed land and has shown that the regenerative farming crops have higher levels of vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals. They don’t give any comparison of the yields achieved though and perhaps the higher levels of vitamins etc are simply due to them being distributed through lower yielding crops.
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Transgenic sugarcane

Sugarcane with overexpressed sucrose-phosphate synthase has been trialled in Indonesia has shown increased tiller number, height and yield than conventional varieties without affecting bacterial diversity or gene horizontal flow in the soil.
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Potato virus Y resistance

Researchers in Iran have used gene-silencing techniques to develop potatoes that exhibit resistance to potato Y virus.
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GM barley trials in the UK

Fertiliser prices have gone through the roof and NIAB in conjunction with Cambridge University at the Crop Science Centre are to trial gene modified and gene edited lines of barley to see if they can improve the nitrogen and phosphorus uptake of the plants and make them less reliant on applied fertilisers. If successful on barley, it could be rolled out to other crops.
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Palm oil replacement

Palm oil is widely used in many products but the proliferation of palm plantations is responsible for a lot of habitat loss throughout the world. Now a team at Nanyang technological University in Singapore have developed a technique for producing the oil from common microalgae.
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Corn borer resistant maize

Zhejiang University in China has developed a genetically modified maize that has insect resistant traits and a 5 year study has shown it can give up to 96% reduction in corn borer damage and a 6 – 10% yield increase over conventional varieties.
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The latest approvals of biotech crops to report this month:

• GMB151 – soybean tolerant of isoxaflutole herbicide approved for food use in Canada and for environmental use in America


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Uwhi trial eradicating pest weeds with woven mats – and reconnecting with tūpuna 

Benn Bathgate15:07, Feb 28 2022

The Uwhi mats being laid at Lake Rotoma on Wednesday, a continuation of a weed eradication project that has shown promising signs at other lakes in the Rotorua region.
STEPHEN PARKERThe Uwhi mats being laid at Lake Rotoma on Wednesday, a continuation of a weed eradication project that has shown promising signs at other lakes in the Rotorua region.

Using an 800-year-old mātauranga Māori solution to tackle a 70-year-old pest weed problem appears to be working – and it’s also helping weavers into jobs and connecting people with their ancestors.

Back in December, harakeke weed mats, called uwhi were laid at sites on the bottom of Lake Rotoiti and Lake Tarawera in a collaborative project from Te Arawa Lakes Trust, Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand and Te Roopū Raranga Ki Rotorua.

The idea was simple.

The woven mats suppress the pest weed, preventing parts breaking off and establishing elsewhere, and also block the photosynthesis process.

A 70-year-old problem is being tackled with an 800-year-old mātauranga Māori solution just outside Rotorua.

Seeds from the native weeds, however, are able to grow up through the mats and, over time, hopefully replace their pest competitors.

Te Arawa Lakes Trust divers have been monitoring the project and on Wednesday a third tranche of uwhi is set to be laid in Lake Rotomā.

Lead diver Corey O’Neill said the team is confident the positive results they have seen so far will be sustained, and hopefully increased over time.

“We started the monitoring process with no expectations. We had an idea based on scientific knowledge of how the uwhi may work, but we have nonetheless been thrilled to see the early trends indicating uwhi are an effective weed control measure.

“This centuries-old solution to a new-age problem is testament to the pivotal role mātauranga Māori can play alongside western science.”

O’Neill says placing uwhi in Lake Rotomā will allow divers to assess its effectiveness against pest weeds in a unique location.

“With different topography to our current two sites, as well a distinctive pest weed profile, Lake Rotomā will add depth and breadth to our monitoring results and will give more credence to the effectiveness of uwhi.”

Te Arawa Lakes Trust lead diver Corey O’Neill, speaking in December at the uwhi laying at Lake Rotoma.
MARK TAYLOR/STUFFTe Arawa Lakes Trust lead diver Corey O’Neill, speaking in December at the uwhi laying at Lake Rotoma.

Te Arawa Lakes Trust biosecurity manager William Anaru says the trial highlights the advantages of genuine collaboration between iwi and government agencies.

“Through the dedication and hard work of everyone involved, we have been able to carry out a mātauranga Māori trial that is creating a positive difference in our lakes.”

The positive effects of the uwhi project are being felt beyond the lakes of Rotorua, however.

Many of the hand-picked weavers creating the uwhi had lost their jobs due to Covid-19, and the project has provided them with not only employment, but the chance to give back to the community.

Te Roopū Raranga Ki Rotorua Kaitakawaenga Judy Howe-Wiperi said working on the uwhi has been cathartic for her, having poured her blood, sweat and tears into the kaupapa from day one.

“When we were approached to collaborate on this kaupapa I was going through a tough time in my personal life.

Judy Howe-Wiperi said working on the uwhi has helped her reconnect with her tūpuna.
SUPPLIEDJudy Howe-Wiperi said working on the uwhi has helped her reconnect with her tūpuna.

“Uwhi gave me a purpose and I poured all my pain and heartache into creating something that would go out and make a positive difference in our world.”

Howe-Wiperi said uwhi has created the potential for sustainable work for the weavers who have had their lives turned upside down by Covid.

“Every single weaver in this group has been helped by the uwhi kaupapa and now we are ready to share our knowledge and skills to help other people, not just in Aotearoa, but the world.

“We have already had inquiries from Tūwharetoa, Ngāi Tahu and even officials from Australia looking for similar solutions for their lakes.

“I just know our tūpuna would be looking down on us right now saying ‘wow’; This uwhi trial has helped many of us reconnect with our tūpuna in a way we hadn’t before.”

Te Arawa Lakes Trust biosecurity manager William Anaru says the trial highlights the advantages of genuine collaboration between iwi and government agencies.

“Through the dedication and hard work of everyone involved, we have been able to carry out a mātauranga Māori trial that is creating a positive difference in our lakes.”



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Abating the Invasive Parthenium Weed to Improve Livestock Health

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Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Nov 29, 2019

parthenium and livestock
Photo Credit: Agricultural Research Council – Plant Health and Protection

This post is written by Sara Hendery, Communications Coordinator for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management

From afar, an expansive field of Parthenium hysterophorus appears as a lush and billowy sea of white and green. Up close, however, the noxious weed reduces crop yields, increases agricultural labor burdens, causes human health issues, and significantly threatens livestock well-being.

When livestock graze on parthenium, invasive in Africa, Asia, and Australia, both milk and meat are tainted. The weed leads animals to contract a number of conditions such as lesions, mouth ulcers, and contact dermatitis. In extreme cases, if livestock consume an excessive amount of parthenium, reduced fertility or even death may result, and cattle from parthenium-invaded areas have lower market value.

Parthenium’s adverse impact on livestock is one of several reasons why the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management at Virginia Tech aids management of the weed in East Africa. Utilizing classical biological control, the team releases two host-specific natural enemies native to Central and South America—the leaf-feeding beetle Zygogramma bicolorata and the stem-boring weevil Listronotus setosipennis—approved for release to manage the weed in several East African countries and South Africa, following their earlier successful use in Australia.

“In Ethiopian local markets, milk tainted by consumption of parthenium is sold at a lower price than untainted milk,” said Wondi Mersie, leader of the parthenium project in East Africa. “In parthenium-infested areas, people taste the milk before they purchase it. If the milk comes from a cow that grazed on parthenium it will have a bitter taste and either its price is reduced or it may not get a buyer. This primarily affects women because they are the sellers of milk in the market or buy it for their infants. Parthenium leaves and flowers contain many compounds that persist in the body. At present, the impact of these compounds on the overall health of children including their immune system is not known.”

In a study conducted by the Women and Gender in International Development team at Virginia Tech, Ethiopian participants reported that cattle feeding in parthenium-invaded lands lowered the price of milk by 50 percent and market value of cattle by 40 percent. Farmers spent half or more of the money from milk sales on feed for their cows to curtail them from eating parthenium, often gaining zero profit from milk production.

Study participants also confirmed that the unpalatable taste and smell of milk produced by cows that feed on parthenium is a major detriment to sales to larger customers outside of the market. If selling milk to a hotel or major company, parthenium-tainted milk would not be accepted or would not be bought a second time. Additionally, children often reject parthenium-tainted milk due to its bitter taste.

But for many small-holder farmers, parthenium-tainted milk is the only available option.

Lorraine Strathie, a South African researcher on the parthenium project, said that the introduction, successful establishment, and widespread distribution of host-specific natural enemies against this weed, known as one of the most destructive invasive weeds in the world, can ultimately bring about significant long-term, sustainable control, and help restore livestock health in invaded areas. This weed was successfully controlled over time in the rangelands of Queensland, Australia, using eleven introduced natural enemies, resulting in considerable, cumulative economic benefits.

“Parthenium is a serious economic concern for agricultural production, conservation of biodiversity, and human and animal health,” Strathie said. “The use of natural enemies against parthenium is self-perpetuating, cost effective, and can be integrated with other control methods. It is a critical management option for farmers burdened by high labor rates and food insecurity.”   

In September of this year, both Zygogramma bicolorata and Listronotus setosipennis had caused dramatic, localized extensive defoliation and stem damage to parthenium infestations where they had been released in southern Ethiopia, resulting in more suitable vegetation replacing the weed. Continued, concerted efforts to mass-rear and distribute these biocontrol agents to as many suitable sites in the country and East African region are needed and require national government support, so that benefits can be more fully realized for the millions of farmers affected in the entire invaded distribution.

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Using Integrated Pest Management to Reduce Pesticides and Increase Food Safety

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Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Mar 06, 2018

Photo: A farmer sprays pesticides on cucurbit crops in Bangladesh.
Photo: A farmer sprays pesticides on cucurbit crops in Bangladesh.

Written by Sara Hendery, Communications Coordinator of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management

In 2017, thousands of beetles and weevils moved into Ethiopia’s Amhara region. Like most living things, they were hungry, but their appetites desired a specific earthly delicacy: weeds.

Zygogramma, the leaf-feeding beetle, and Listronotus, the stem-boring weevil, were released in Ethiopia by Virginia State University, collaborators of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management, funded by USAID and housed at Virginia Tech. Zygogramma and Listronotus combat Parthenium, an invasive weed that threatens food security and biodiversity, causes respiratory issues and rashes on human skin, and taints meat and dairy products when consumed by animals. Biological control and other holistic agricultural methods are specialities of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Innovation Lab. Its team of scientists and collaborators generate IPM technologies to fight, reduce and manage crop-destroying pests in developing countries while reducing the use of pesticides.  

The application of pesticides is a major threat to human health. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 50,000 tons of obsolete pesticides blanket the already at-risk land. Pesticides can taint food, water, soil and air, causing headaches, drowsiness, fertility issues and life-threatening illness. Especially vulnerable populations are children, pregnant women and farmers themselves; hundreds of thousands of known deaths occur each year due to pesticide poisoning. Pesticides often increase crop yields, but an abundance of crops is anachronistic when the cost is human life.

In a small community in Bangladesh, farmers used to rely on pesticides to manage insects and agricultural diseases destroying crops, but community members began to develop symptoms from the excessive pesticide use, and, more than that, children were doing the spraying. The IPM Innovation Lab implemented a grafting program in the community that generated eggplant grafted varieties resistant to bacterial wilt. Eggplant yields increased dramatically and purchases of chemical pesticides dropped, which meant safer and healthier produce for families.

This story is one of many. The IPM Innovation Lab taps into a collection of inventive technologies in both its current phase of projects in East Africa and Asia, and since its inception in 1993, to enhance the livelihoods and standards of living for smallholder farmers and people across the globe:

  • In Vietnam, dragon fruit is covered in biodegradable plastic bags to protect the plants from fungal disease.
  • In Niger, the release of parasitoids eliminates the pearl millet headminer.
  • The spread of coconut dust inside seedling trays grows healthy plants in India.
  • Parasitic wasps destroy the papaya mealybug from India to Florida.
  • Trichoderma, a naturally occurring fungus in soil, fights against fungal diseases in India, the Philippines and elsewhere.  
  • Cuelure bait traps save cucurbits from fruit flies in Bangladesh.
  • Eggplant fruit and shootborer baits protect eggplants from insect damage in Nepal, India and Bangladesh.

Pesticides do not necessarily eliminate pest invasion; they eliminate even the “good” insects on plants. Insects often develop resistance to popular chemicals when applied frequently, so not only is chemical spraying sometimes unnecessary, it is excessive.

Tuta absoluta, for example, is a tomato leafminer destroying tomato crops across the globe. In Spain, in the first year of the pest’s introduction, pesticides were applied 15 times per season, but the pest is resistant to pesticides and is so small (about the size of a stray pencil mark) that it often burrows inside the plant rather than around it. The IPM Innovation Lab and its collaborators generated one-of-a-kind modeling to track the movement of the species and introduced pheromone traps and neem-based bio-pesticides to help manage its spread, further ensuring the implementation of a series of technologies, rather than just relying on one, to reduce crop damage. The age-old saying “two heads are better than one” is accurate — just ask Zygogramma and Listronotus.

In developing countries, it is difficult to regulate the amount of chemical pesticides that make it onto crops, thus increasing the risk that chemicals will have a dramatic effect on the safety of food and the potential for exposure to foreign markets. One of the reasons pesticide over-application is common in developing countries is due to misinformation. In Cambodian rice production, pesticides are often misused because labels are printed in a foreign language; it is common that farmers mix two to five pesticides, resulting in pesticide poisoning. The IPM Innovation Lab’s project in Cambodia reduces the number of pesticides in rice production by introducing host-plant resistance and biological control.

Also, a fundamental practice of the IPM Innovation Lab is conducting trainings and symposia for farmers and IPM collaborators across the world to educate on the use and implementation of IPM technologies, further reducing the risk of possible harm to crops and human life. Additionally, IPM Innovation Lab partners with agriculture input suppliers and markets in project communities to ensure that bio-pesticides and IPM materials such as traps are readily available and that the purchase of pesticides are not the only option.

Ultimately, when you spray, you pay. The IPM Innovation Lab prioritizes both human and plant health by reducing the use of pesticides, and with the human population growing by the thousands every day, it is crucial that food is not only abundant but also safe and healthy to eat.

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Weed Control In A New World Order

Consider these strategies if your former plan isn’t an option.
Consider these strategies if your former plan isn’t an option.

By SARA SCHAFER December 8, 2021

Consider these strategies if your former plan isn’t an option

Supply chain constraints could limit the amount — or dramatically increase the price — of key weed control products such as glyphosate and glufosinate in 2022. Prepare for if these options are not in the cards. 

“Glyphosate made weed control simple before we had glyphosate- resistant weeds” says Bill Johnson, Purdue University weed scientist. “There aren’t simple answers now. It’s time to become a weed scientist student again.” about:blank

Consider these strategies: 


Sure, the supply chain could be repaired by the spring, and you have standard weed control products available to you, but making that your plan brings great risk, Johnson says. 

“If in May farmers are asking their retailers or custom applicators to spray alternative products on short notice, we will have chaos,” he says. about:blank

As you consider alternative products, make sure they are effective against the common weeds you see most. Note their application windows and instructions. 

You will also want to consider the role of non-herbicidal control options, adds Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri weed scientist. For example, if you only have a certain amount of product, you might want to couple it with tillage or cultivation.


If you can only spray a product one time, Johnson says, where or when will you get the best results? Rank your field by previous weed pressure. 

“Now is the time to be better stewards of our chemicals,” Bradley says. “We can’t afford to go out there with the wrong rates, wrong nozzles or wrong adjuvants.”


Instead of relying on managing weed escapes, Johnson says, make residual herbicides the backbone of your 2022 weed management program (see below).

Weed Control Research

“If you’re the one person who doesn’t like residual herbicides, you need to change,” Bradley says. “You need to rely on residual pre- and postemergence herbicides.”

In corn, if you have residuals do the bulk of your weed suppression, you still have options for post-weed escapes. Those can include Group 2, Group 4 and Group 27 herbicides. 


Regardless of if you’re stretching your favorite herbicides or trying new ones, Johnson and Bradley recommend these best practices:

  • Watch your chemical mixing order. Some chemicals are not compatible with other components in the spray mixture, such as other herbicides, fertilizers, biologicals, fungicides or insecticides.  
  • Think about off-target movement and know your likelihood of drift and damage to neighboring crops. 
  • Review carrier volume instructions and set your sprayer correctly. Some products require low and some require high volumes. Some products have specific instructions about spray droplet size as well.
  • Target labeled rates on small weeds rather than higher rates on big weeds. Products such as glyphosate, dicamba and 2,4-D were more forgiving on large weed sizes.

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