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BCPC’s GM/Biotech Crops Report – April 2022

5th April 2022

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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:
Full Story

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.
Full Story

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.
Full Story

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.
Full Story

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.
Full Story

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.
Full Story

Potato virus Y resistance

Researchers in Iran have used gene-silencing techniques to develop potatoes that exhibit resistance to potato Y virus.
Full Story

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.
Full Story

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.
Full Story

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.
Full Story

THE LATEST ADDITIONS TO THE  GM/BIOTECH DATABASE ARE:

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

FOR INSTANT ACCESS TO GM BIOTECH MANUAL CLICK HERE (Registration required)

Already Registered? Click here to access

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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: 

1. MAKE A PLAN B NOW. 

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.

2. MAKE EVERY SPRAY COUNT.

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.”

3. FOCUS ON RESIDUALS. 

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. 

4. FOLLOW BEST PRACTICES. 

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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Graduate Students in Nepal Uncover the Impacts of Climate Change and Invasive Species Spread

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Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Jul 27, 2021

Anju Sharma Paudel
Anju Sharma Paudel

This post is written by Sara Hendery, communications coordinator for the Feed the Future Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Innovation Lab

Virginia Tech’s Feed the Future IPM Innovation Lab is celebrating the work of 27 students funded by one of its projects. 

The IPM Innovation Lab collaborates with Tribhuvan University and the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute to assess the spread of invasive weeds over the last 30 years — based on elevation and under different climate scenarios — in central Nepal. The project has found that as climate change events continue to occur, invasive weeds are spreading faster and higher than ever before. 

Over the course of this six-year project, many research findings have been uncovered by graduate students supported by the project’s funding. Post-graduation, those students are now working at high levels within the Nepal government, universities and the private sector. They have also participated in more than 45 international and national conference presentations and published more than three dozen research papers in national and international scientific journals, with more being developed.

“Student research, with the guidance of experts and advisors, has been at the helm of some of the most exciting research to come out of this project,” said Pramod Jha, professor emeritus at Tribhuvan University and the project lead. “Some have uncovered, for example, incredibly valuable biocontrol options for some of Nepal’s most pressing invasive weed issues as well as assessed the shrinking land availability of critical food crops communities depend on. These students are just at the beginning of recognizing the long-term impacts of climate change and this initial research will propel them into future careers where they can actually see their work come to life.”

Take, for example, soon-to-be graduate Seerjana Maharjan. Maharjan is earning her Ph.D. from Tribhuvan University, researching the ecology and management of the invasive weed Parthenium hysterophorus, which causes human, animal and environmental health issues. Her research considers the possibility of winter rust as a biocontrol agent of parthenium and projects the increased suitable habitat of parthenium under future climate scenarios. Post-graduation, Maharjan will serve as a scientific officer in Nepal’s Department of Plant Resources, Ministry of Forests and Environment

Dol Raj Luitel also works as a senior scientific officer in Nepal’s Department of Plant Resources, Ministry of Forests and Environment. Earning his Ph.D. at Tribhuvan University, Luitel’s research explores the impact of climate change on distribution, production and cropping patterns of finger millet and buckwheat along altitudinal gradients in Nepal. His research assesses the medicinal value of finger millet, the declining habitat of buckwheat under future climate scenarios and the important nutrients that can be found in finger millet and soil at varying elevations.

Ghanshyam Bhandari earned his Ph.D. from the Agriculture and Forestry University, researching insect diversity of maize and eco-friendly management practices of maize stemborers. Bhandari’s research also assesses the performance of traps for capturing maize insects and farmer perception of climate change in relation to maize cultivation. As a current research officer at the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Bhandari is assisting the IPM Innovation Lab in developing biological control efforts of the invasive fall armyworm in Nepal. 

Hom Nath Giri earned a Ph.D. from the Agriculture and Forestry University and currently serves as an assistant professor of horticulture at his alma mater. His research explores the growth of cauliflower at different ecological zones in Nepal, the effect of nitrogen on the post-harvest quality of cauliflower, and efficacy testing of pesticides against the cabbage butterfly in Nepal.

Anju Sharma Paudel earned a Ph.D. from Tribhuvan University, her research focusing on the management of the invasive weed Ageratina adenophora. Post-graduation, Paudel is continuing to develop her research, predicting the current and future distribution of Ageratina adenophora in Nepal and whether stem-galling of the invasive weed by the biocontrol agent Procecidochares utilis is elevation dependent.

The IPM Innovation Lab supported Ram Asheswar Mandal, a postdoctoral student at Tribhuvan University, over the course of the program. Mandal’s research assesses the impacts of climate change and biological invasion on livelihoods.

The IPM Innovation Lab has also supported 21 master’s-level students in the same project, many of whom now work as agricultural officers for the Nepal government or as lecturers at local universities.

Muni Muniappan, director of the IPM Innovation Lab, said the involvement of students in this project is a win-win for both students and research.

“Students are eager to address the biggest problems of our time,” he said, “whether it be food insecurity, resource limitations, climate change impacts or other constraints. Students bring to these global challenges new perspectives and out-of-the-box thinking that is exactly what is needed to help move the science forward. In return, they receive real-life, hands-on experience in their own country as well as other countries, which further nurtures their problem-solving abilities.”

Graduating master’s students funded by the project include:

  • Sagar Khadka, Tribhuvan University: Decomposition of Eichhornia crassipes of different fungi in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Bidya Shrestha, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of climate change on biodiversity utilization by smallholder farmers. 
  • Pristi Dangol, Tribhuvan University: Changes in the life history traits of the invasive weed Lantana camara in central Nepal.
  • Yashoda Panthi, Tribhuvan University: Diversity of invasive alien plant species and their impacts on provisioning services in a village of Lamjung district. 
  • Ganga Shah, Tribhuvan University: Distribution of vulture species and its nest site from lowland to highland in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal.
  • Vishubha Thapa, Tribhuvan University: Food access and threats to vultures in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Vivekanand Mahat, Agriculture and Forestry University: Hygiene behavior of the honey bee (Apis cerana. F. and Apis mellifera L.) and diversity of flower visitors in rapeseed (Brassica campestris var. toria). 
  • Sarita Sapkota, Agriculture and Forestry University: Relative abundance of dung beetles and their role in nutrient cycling in Terai and mid hills of Nepal. 
  • Ramesh Upreti, Agriculture and Forestry University: Fruit thinning and defoliation effects on the quality and yield of papaya (Carica papaya) cv. Red Lady under net house conditions at Chitwan. 
  • Madhu Sudan Ghimire, Agriculture and Forestry University: Evaluation of indigenous cultivation of potato against late blight (Phytopthora infestance L.) in Okhaldhunga, Nepal.
  • Pratiksha Sharma, Agriculture and Forestry University: Climate resilient maize production among Chepang and non-Chepang communities in Chitwan, Nepal. 
  • Srijana Paudel, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Mikania micrantha in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Abhisek Singh, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Ipomea carnea ssp fistulosa and spatio-temporal distribution of Lantana camara in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Sita Gyawali, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Chromolaena odorata in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Sandeep Dhakal, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Lantana camara in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Sanjeev Bhandari, Tribhuvan University: Climate change and its impacts on fodder availability in Puranchaur, Kaski district.
  • Himal Yonjon, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Eichhornea crassipes in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Chandra Paudel, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of Lantana camara on associated species. 
  • Binod Malla, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of Mikania micrantha on associated species. 
  • Aarati Chand, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of Parthenium hysterophorus on associated species. 
  • Nitu Joshi, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of  Chromolaena odorata on associated species.

This invasive weed modeling project is one of nine projects the IPM Innovation Lab currently manages. Since the program’s inception in 1993, it has funded the research of more than 600 students worldwide.FILED UNDER:AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITYCLIMATE AND NATURAL RESOURCES

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Invasive Species Spread: Mapping the Impacts of Climate Change from Space

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Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Oct 29, 2021

Sita Gyawali
Sita Gyawali

Nepal is considered to be one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change. The country’s unique geographic and topographic variations contribute to its rich biodiversity, which is at great risk from the spread of invasive species. As invasive species are more adaptable to change, they are wiping out critical native species that help communities and ecosystems thrive.  

Using satellite imaging, the Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management and Tribhuvan University in Nepal monitor the spread of invasive weeds, tracking species specifically between the period of 1990 to 2018. The programs account for climatic changes that have occurred over the last 30 years – such as fluctuations in rainfall and temperature – to measure how climate change impacts the spread of the invasive weeds over time.

Chromolaena odorata is one such weed, and is considered one of the world’s worst invasive alien species. Native species are greatly impacted by Chromolaena’s spread. The weed alters soil health, and due to the high level of nitrate content in its leaves, it’s poisonous to cattle.

Tribhuvan University graduate student Sita Gyawali utilized multispectral and medium spatial resolution satellite data – using programs such as Landsat, World View 2, and ArcGIS – to show that Chromolaena has significantly increased in spread over the last 30 years. The weed’s expansion in the Chitwan Annapurna Landscape (CHAL) area was 0.62% in 1992, and 0.87%, 1.11%, 1.29% in the years of 2000, 2010, and 2018, respectively. In total, its coverage increased from 201 sq. km to 412 sq. km, indicating that the weed is still invading new areas. The invasion of Chromolaena is expanding mostly in the mid-hill region of Nepal, considered to encompass the country’s most fertile lands.

“Images from such programs as Landsat and World View have become an invaluable source of data for detecting the spatial distribution of Chromolaena in Nepal,” said Gyawali. “Historical time series of remotely sensed data presents opportunities for characterizing habitat preferences of new species. This information provides us the insight we need in order to find management technologies that can combat the weed.”

In addition to Chromolaena, the project is also assessing the distribution expansion of the invasive weed Lantana camara. Lantana can be extremely destructive, as it smothers native vegetation, reducing species diversity and leading to species extinction. Tribhuvan University graduate student Sandeep Dhakal used Landsat images to show that the weed has increased in spread over the last 30 years, progressing from 0.24%, 0.9%, 1.45%, and 2.74 % in area in CHAL in the years 1992, 2000, 2009, and 2018, respectively. The largest area of distribution was found in Middle Mountain, followed by Siwalik and high mountains.

“Effective mapping of invasive species extent and determining the risk they pose for future invasions is incredibly important to Nepal,” said Dhakal. “The food we eat, the land our animals graze on, and more is at risk if we do not continue to utilize these types of programs to understand invasive species impact.”

Tribhuvan University students knew little about remote sensing before the start of the Virginia Tech-managed project. They gained satellite monitoring and modeling expert assistance from collaborators at the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute, who also operate the IPM Innovation Lab’s monitoring program of the invasive insect pest Tuta absoluta. Through this project alone, the IPM Innovation Lab has supported 27 students for their graduate degrees in Nepal. 

“For students to come into this program and learn a completely new skill – one that they will be able to apply to future careers – is a major contribution to building Nepal’s local research capacity,” said Pramod K. Jha, head of the program. “We know that invasive species respond quickly to change. As climate change persists and globalization continues, we cannot afford to wait to see how our lands are changing over time. Monitoring systems using satellite imaging help give us a bird’s eye view of not only how quickly this change is happening, but how quickly we need to react to ensure no further damage is done.”

Graduate students involved in the invasive weed modeling program in Nepal have already published 42 research publications in international and national journals in the areas of climate change, satellite imaging, biodiversity, and beyond.

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Stemming the tide of invasive weeds with world-first herbicide capsules

Amelia Limbongan using her equipment

2 December 2021

The University of Queensland

An innovative herbicide delivery system could revolutionise the way agricultural and environmental managers battle invasive weeds.

The ingenious method uses herbicide-filled capsules drilled into the stems of invasive woody weeds and is safer, cleaner and as effective as herbicide sprays, which can have negative health impacts on workers and surrounding areas.

PhD candidate Amelia Limbongan from The University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences said the method was highly effective against a wide variety of weed species, which pose a major threat to farming and grazing systems.

“Woody weeds such as Mimosa bush stifle pasture growth, impede mustering and cause physical and financial damage to animals and property,” Ms Limbongan said.

“This method of weed control is practical, portable and far more convenient than other methods and we’ve already seen several professional operators and councils adopting the approach.”

The portability and convenience of the system, coupled with its proven efficacy and safety, meant the encapsulated herbicide could be used in a variety of settings and locations worldwide.

“This method uses 30 per cent less herbicide to kill weeds, and is just as effective as more labour-intensive approaches, which will save valuable time and money for farmers and foresters,” Ms Limbongan said.

“It could also lead to better management of weeds in agricultural and environmental systems across the globe, while also protecting workers by practically eliminating their exposure to harmful herbicides.

“There is a great market for this technology in countries where invasive weeds are a problem and where forestry is an industry, which would be almost every country.”

Professor Victor Galea said the process used a mechanical applicator called the InJecta, that quickly drilled a hole in the stem of the woody weed, implanting a dissolvable capsule containing the dry herbicide and sealing the capsule into the stem with a wooden plug, bypassing the need to spray over large areas of land.

“The herbicide is then dissolved by plant sap and kills the weed from the inside and, due to the small amount of herbicide used in each capsule, causes no leakage,” Professor Galea said.

“Another reason why this delivery system is so useful is that it protects non-target plants, which are often damaged through accidental contact when using traditional methods such as spraying.”

Researchers are continuing to trial the capsule method on several different weed species and have a number of similar products in line for distribution, which will help farmers, foresters and environmental managers eliminate invasive weeds.

“One of the products tested in this research paper, Di-Bak G (glyphosate), is already being sold in Australia along with the applicator equipment and can be purchased through agricultural supplies outlets across the country,” Professor Galea said.

“Three more products are being prepared for registration and we plan to expand this range over time.”

The research has been published in Plants (DOI: 10.3390/plants10112505).

Media: Amelia Limbongan, a.limbongan@uq.net.au, +61 (0)432 083 776, Professor Victor Galea, v.galea@uq.edu.au, +61 (0)7 5460 1282, Dominic Jarvis, dominic.jarvis@uq.edu.au, +61 (0)413 334 924.

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IAPPS Region X Northeast Asia Regional Center (NEARC)

Present committee members

Dr. Izuru Yamamoto, Senior Advisor

Dr. Noriharu Umetsu, Senior Advisor

Dr. Tsutomu Arie, a representative of the Phytopathological Society of Japan, the chair of Region X

Dr. Tarô Adati, a representative of Japanese Society of Applied Entomology and Zoology

Dr. Hiromitsu Moriyama, a representative of Pesticide Science Society of Japan, the secretary general of Region X

Dr. Rie Miyaura, a representative of The Weed Science Society of Japan

The Phytopathological Society of Japan and Pesticide Science Society of Japan became official partners of IYPH2020 by FAO of UN and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) of Japan and endeavored to educate the society on plant protection. https://www.maff.go.jp/j/syouan/syokubo/keneki/iyph/iyph_os.html

Annual activities related to IAPPS especially to IPM of plant diseases, insects and weeds, and plant regulation (from April 2020 to March 2021)

The Phytopathological Society of Japan (PSJ)

2020 Kanto District Meeting, Online; Sep 21–22, 2020

2020 Kansai District Meeting, Online; Sep 21–22, 2020

2020 Tohoku District Meeting, Online; Oct 12–14, 2020

2020 Hokkaido District Meeting, Online; Oct 15, 2020

2020 Kyushu District Meeting, Online; Nov 24–26, 2020

2021 Annual Meeting, Online; Mar 17–19, 2021

Japanese Society of Applied Entomology and Zoology (JSAEZ)

65th Annual Meeting, online, March 23-26, 2021

28th Annual Research Meeting of the Japan-ICIPE Association, online, March 25, 2021

Pesticide Science Society of Japan

37rd Study Group Meeting of Special Committee on Bioactivity of Pesticides, online, Sep 18, 2020

40th Symposium of Special Committee on Agricultural Formulation and Application, Yokohama, Kanagawa; Oct 15–16, 2020 (Cancelled due to the spread of COVID-19)

43th Annual Meeting of Special Committee on Pesticide Residue Analysis, online, Nov. 5–6, 2020

46th Annual meeting, Fuchu, Tokyo and Online, March 8–10, 2021

The Weed Science Society of Japan (WSSJ)

2020 Annual Meeting, The Weed Science Society of Kinki, Online; Dec 5, 2020

35th Symposium of Weed Science Society of Japan, Online; Dec 12, 2020

2020 Annual Meeting, Kanto Weed Science Society, Online; Dec 22, 2020

22th Annual Meeting, The Weed Science Society of Tohoku, Japan, Online; Feb 25, 2021

2020 Study Group Meeting of Weed Utilization and Management in Small Scale Farming, Online; Feb 26, 2021

Hono-Kai (means, Meeting who are appreciating agriculture)

35th Hono-Kai Symposium was cancelled due to the epidemic of COVID-19

Japan Biostimulants Association

rd Symposium, Online; Nov 2–30, 2020

Nodai Research Institute

2020-1 Biological Control Group Seminar, Setagaya; Tokyo; Jun 16, 2020 (Cancelled due to the epidemic of COVID-19)

2020-2 Biological Control Group Seminar, online, Nov 13, 2020

2021-1 Biological Control Group Seminar, online, Jun 15, 2021

2021-2 Biological Control Group Seminar, online, Nov 9, 2021

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Weed Control Isn’t Just in a Jug

Chemical, Mechanical and Physical Weed Control is the Future

11/8/2021 | 8:28 AM CST

Matt Wilde

By  Matthew Wilde , Progressive Farmer Crops Editor

To control herbicide-resistant weeds, farmers need to consider all eradication methods, including pulling or cutting weeds. This family was pulling weeds in an organic soybean field, but hand weeding should also be considered in herbicide-tolerant and non-genetically modified soybeans. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico)
To control herbicide-resistant weeds, farmers need to consider all eradication methods, including pulling or cutting weeds. This family was pulling weeds in an organic soybean field, but hand weeding should also be considered in herbicide-tolerant and non-genetically modified soybeans. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico)

ANKENY, Iowa (DTN) — Mike Morgan has waged an all-out war on weeds for years in his Piggott, Arkansas, fields. He may be finally winning.

The main enemy is pigweed, particularly Palmer amaranth. The key to victory, Morgan said, is doing whatever it takes to conquer the weed seedbank and not settling for good-enough control. He’s found that a combination of effective herbicides with multiple modes of action and hiring chopping crews to remove weed escapees and burn them is effective.

But the war is far from over. “The fields are pretty clean now, but we’re still having weed trouble on field edges and seeing occasional escapes,” Morgan said.

Morgan knows herbicides alone no longer provide effective weed control. And in a year when many major herbicide active ingredients are in short supply or overly expensive, non-chemical solutions may be more important than ever.

Not long ago, Morgan was spending $100,000 or more annually on chopping crews that worked almost all summer to rid fields of Palmer amaranth because it threatened his livelihood. This year, he only spent about $10,000 to go after weeds manually because they weren’t as prevalent.

“If you don’t take care of pigweeds (Palmer amaranth), they will take care of you,” Morgan said. “You can see where they have totally taken over farms. We fight pigweed tooth and nail to keep the numbers down so they don’t explode.”

More than 250 weed species have developed resistance to herbicides, according to the Weed Science Society of America. If left unchecked, weeds may slice yields by depriving row crops of water, nutrients and sunlight.

Palmer amaranth and waterhemp, both members of the pigweed family, are particularly nasty and tough to control. Each is a prolific weed seed producer known to foil up to six and seven herbicide sites of action, respectively.

HOLISTIC APPROACH

Weed scientists urge farmers to adopt a holistic approach to weed control. This includes herbicides, hand weeding, cover crops, weed seed destruction, tillage and more.

Tom Barber, a University of Arkansas Extension weed scientist, said mechanical and cultural weed-control practices may not be cheap and easy, unlike when one pass of glyphosate did the trick. If farmers want to keep weeds at bay and preserve the efficacy of herbicides that still work, he said they need to consider multiple control methods.

“Farmers have to get out of the mentality that herbicides are the only answer,” Barber said. “Ever since glyphosate resistance became an issue, we made a huge shift in our education programs to focus on cultural practices to reduce weed numbers. Some farmers don’t want to do that because it costs more money, and it’s not as easy.”

COVER CROPS

Cover crops such as cereal rye and hairy vetch are Larry Steckel’s top nonchemical recommendations to fight herbicide-resistant weeds. Cover crops terminated just before or after planting can reduce Palmer amaranth infestations by 50%, according to the University of Tennessee weed specialist.

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Bayer develops herbicides for cassava to tackle weeds and raise yields

12 October 2021Bayer has developed and launched a new crop protection product known as Lagon to help farmers tackle the problem of cassava weeds in cassava and boost yield. Tested on more than 200 trials and demos across Nigeria and Tanzania, users rated Lagon among the best preemergence herbicides for controlling grasses and broadleaf weeds in cassava.

Bayer develops herbicides for cassava to tackle weeds and raise yields
Cassava Farmer, Marcos Antonio Dalevedove; Country Sales Manager, Bayer Nigeria Limited, Temitope Banjo; IITA Director for Development and Delivery, Dr Alfred Dixon; Nigeria Cassava Growers Association representative, Simeon Adetunji during the launch of Lagon for weed control in Cassava in Ibadan.

“The launch of Lagon today provides a big relief to farmers,” said Bayer Nigeria Country Sales Manager, Temitope Banjo. “These are exciting times for cassava farmers, and they need not worry about weeds anymore,” he added.

Weeds are a major challenge to increased cassava productivity in Nigeria and Africa in general, with women spending about 500 hours annually to keep a hectare of cassava weed-free using hoes. The manual method of weed control compromises the health of resource-constrained farmers, and in some cases, children are pulled out of school to support weeding.

When left uncontrolled, weeds compete with cassava for water, nutrients, and space, reducing yields by 40 to 90%. To tackle the menace of weeds, the IITA-managed Cassava Weed Management Project has screened more than 40 preemergence herbicides in the last eight years, both on-station and on-farm. The trials and subsequent demonstrations were conducted in Abia, Benue, Ogun, and Oyo states in Nigeria and in Tanzania.

Across the four states, which represent the key agroecological zones that predominantly grow cassava in Nigeria, cassava yields from Lagon-treated fields were more than double the national average and above 20 tons per hectare. Furthermore, cassava plants treated with Lagon were more robust than those on untreated fields or where the product was not used.

IITA Director for Development and Delivery Alfred Dixon said that the Cassava Weed Management Project team also conducted residue analysis on cassava leaves, stems, and roots. “The residue analysis provided negative results, meaning that Lagon is safe for application on field crops, particularly cassava,” Dixon added.

Farmers who use Lagon commended the Bayer preemergence herbicides for their efficacy.

According to Chichi Ngufan, using Lagon on farmers’ fields was doing “wonders” and helping farmers increase their yields and profits. Ngufan, a cassava commercial seed producer, said the use of Lagon has helped her group increase the size of their cassava farm in Benue.

“This is possible because we now manage weeds in cassava better,” she said, adding that with Lagon, farmers were saving more on weeding costs.

Ngufan called on the government to support the dissemination of Lagon so that more farmers could have access to the product and make more returns from growing cassava.FacebookTwitterEmailShare

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