Monday, August 25, 2014/ Lincoln (NE) Journal Star
Archive for the ‘Insects’ Category
Benin is now storing some 150,000 tonnes of rice on farms
But insect pests are taking a financial toll on the stores, destroying up to five per cent of rice
Regional variations could reveal more about the best ways to tackle the pests
[COTONOU, BENIN] Insect pests that attack stored rice are causing financial losses to farmers in Benin, researchers report in the first such study of the crop in the country. But they also found significant regional differences in damage.
According to their paper, published in the Journal of Applied Sciences earlier this year (21 February), rice production in the past was not high enough in Benin to justify long-term storage on farms so insect damage was less significant.
But since 2009, rice production has increased in many African countries and storage has become common practice. In 2012, Benin recorded 150,000 tonnes of stored paddy rice.
The researchers sampled 65 rice stores around the country and carried out a survey among farmers to determine their views on the economic importance of insect damage.
For a storage period of four to six months, they found financial losses were up to 21,315 Francs of the African Financial Community (around US$42) per tonne of stored rice in the south of the country and up to US$16 in the north.
By weight, they reported losses of about 5.5 per cent after six months of storage in the south, four per cent in the central region and 1.6 per cent in the north.
The damage caused by insect pests includes a reduction in nutritional value, grain discolouration, reduced germination, bad odour and taste, and the formation of mycotoxins that can cause serious illness in consumers, says lead author Abou Togola, an entomologist at the Africa Rice Centre (AfricaRice) in Benin.
The Gympie Times
12th Aug 2014 5:17 AM
NEW innovative lures for trapping major horticultural pests will soon give growers an effective tool for better on-farm integrated pest management.
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry business manager Jodie Campbell said the new traps would help growers control both banana spotting bugs and fruit spotting bugs, leading to less crop damage and improved productivity.
“Banana spotting bugs and fruit spotting bugs are two major pests of a wide range of tropical and subtropical crops including avocado, macadamia, papaya, mango, limes and custard apples,” she said.
“These pests were notoriously difficult to monitor, which is a large reason why growers in tropical and sub-tropical regions of Australia were forced to use broad-spectrum cover sprays.
“After more than 20 years of research and development, DAFF entomologists are now seeing very promising results from these new lures that use pheromones to trap and monitor the bugs.
“The pheromone lures have been effective in attracting both male and female spotting bugs and the ‘sticky panel’ trap component we designed is highly effective at catching these bugs.
“We are now at the stage of working with a commercial partner to maximise the potential of the lures to benefit the Australian horticultural industry.
“This is great news for growers, who will be able to access this technology from around mid-2015.”
Organic Crop Protectants was selected as the commercial partner to take the innovative lure technology to the market.
“OCP is a well-qualified company that has been commercially focused in the business of integrated pest and disease management for over 20 years,” Ms Campbell said.
“OCP’s plan will be to support further research and optimise the lures and traps into an integrated pest management system.
“The aim is to provide effective integrated pest management tools that give farmers better confidence to make the transition to more sustainable farming practices.”
The selection of OCP as the commercial partner for the new traps was undertaken through an open, competitive tender process by DAFF and Horticulture Australia.
By Ojoma Akor
Cocoa is a very important cash crop in Ghana and is one of the main contributors to the country’s foreign exchange earnings. But like other crops, it is also plagued by various diseases and pests.
The Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) is called Tafo Cocoa Station when it was established in 1938 and later changed its name to the West African Cocoa Research Institute (WACRI) in 1944. It has mandate of conducting research to facilitate improved production of disease-free or disease-resistant cocoa, not only in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) but also in other West African countries which were under British rule, including Nigeria.
However, various countries later established their own research institutions after they gained independence and Ghana renamed WACRI as the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).
The Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) was established in Ibadan, Oyo State, on December 1, 1964, as a successor autonomous research organisation to the Nigerian substation of the defunct West African Cocoa Research Institute (WACRI).
According to the Executive Director of Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), Dr Franklin Amoah, the institute was established in 1938 after a farmer observed some unusual symptoms on his cocoa tree as a result of diseases, particularly the swollen shoot disease in 1936.
The institute was established to look into the case and other diseases and pests problems that came up. It later became a centre for research for post-graduate students from different countries.
Amoah said when it comes to research on Cocoa, Ghana and Nigeria have many things in common, adding: “The Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria was formerly a substation of our institute until after independence when they decided to be autonomous.
“But since then we have had a lot of collaboration and share a lot of things, including research findings. Virtually every year I travel to Ukraine where I collaborate with the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria,” he told media fellows of the Biosciences for Farming in Africa (B4FA) when they visited the institute in Tafo, Ghana in April.
He said the diseases and pests of cocoa are major problems but the research institute has been doing its best to keep the disease and pests under control, adding that the two major diseases that affect cocoa are the swollen shoot disease and black pod disease.
“As at now, we are managing the swollen shoot disease, we have not found any major cure for it. It is a viral disease. As I speak over two million cocoa trees have been removed, eradicated, cut out and replanted while the breeders are also trying to develop materials which are very resistant or tolerant to the disease.
“We are also putting other agronomic practices to ensure that the spread of the disease is minimised. We have what we call the barrier cropping where core plot of cocoa is surrounded by two or three lines of non host plants.”
He said the swollen shoot is a major cocoa disease in Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo, adding that the symptoms vary with environmental conditions. The symptoms include the swelling of the root or stem, leaf discolouration and death of the trees, thus, affecting crop yields.
Posted in Biological control, Emerging/invasive pests, Insect-plant interaction, Insects, Weeds, tagged IPM Innovation Lab, Parthenium, R. Muniappan, USAID, VA State University, VA Tech, Wondi Mersie, Zygogramma bicolorata on August 22, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 22, 2014 – An invasive weed poses a serious and frightening threat to farming families in Ethiopia, but scientists from a Virginia Tech-led program have unleashed a new weapon in the fight against hunger: a tiny, speckled beetle.
The weed, called parthenium, is so destructive that farmers in the east African nation have despairingly given it the nickname “faramsissa” in Amharic, which, translated, means “sign your land away.” Farmers have doused the weed in pesticides and ripped it out with their hands, but it has only spread further.
After a decade-long effort, scientists from the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab released a parthenium-eating beetle called Zygogramma bicolorata.
“Extensive research has shown us that the beetle eats and breeds only on parthenium leaves,” said Muni Muniappan, director of the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab, a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. “It’s been tested in Australia, India, South Africa, and Mexico with similar results.”
Parthenium is native to the Americas, where a suite of natural enemies that includes the Zygogramma beetle keeps the weed in check. But in the early 1970s, parthenium entered Ethiopia in shipments of food aid from the United States. With no serious contenders, the plant flourished.
In the past three decades, parthenium has become the second most common weed in Ethiopia, suppressing the growth of all other plants and wreaking havoc in the fields and gardens of smallholder farmers.
“The plant is an aggressive invader. A single plant can produce 25,000 seeds and completes its life cycle in six to eight weeks,” said Wondi Mersie, a Virginia State University professor and principal investigator of the Virginia Tech-led project. “It displaces native species, affects human health, and negatively impacts quality of life.”
Parthenium is poisonous. People who come into contact with it can suffer from skin irritations, bronchial asthma, and fever. Animals that eat it can experience intestinal damage, and their milk and meat becomes bitter and useless.
The Innovation Lab built a quarantine facility in 2007 to ensure that the pea-sized beetle had eyes for parthenium alone. Testing under quarantine is one of the crucial steps involved in biological control, a rigorously tested method where an invasive species’ natural enemies are used to regulate it.
“Opportunities for biocontrol in Ethiopia are huge, and there would be enormous benefits,” said Arne Witt, a biologist not associated with the Virginia Tech program who works with UK-based nonprofit CABI.
After a laborious process involving many agencies and much red tape, Zygogramma bicolorata was approved for release. Researchers collaborated with farmers, local government officials, and extension agents to construct a breeding facility and increase the number of beetles.
Finally, on July 16, the Innovation Lab team joined a group of about 30 scientists and farmers in Wollenchitti, Ethiopia, to release the insects. The group moved from parthenium patch to parthenium patch, dumping beetles from containers.
Ethiopian researchers will monitor the sites and assess the impact. As a second step, scientists are poised to release a stem-boring weevil that will join Zygogramma. But even these measures will not eliminate parthenium from Ethiopian farmland.
“Biocontrol is control, not eradication,” said Witt. “But it means that a farmer sprays less pesticide. We need an integrated strategy, and biological control is the most cost-effective strategy – let’s embrace it.”
The Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab is managed by the Office of International Research and Education at Virginia Tech.
Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 225 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $496 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.
Written by Kelly Izlar
I am happy to inform that University of Agricultural Sciences – Bangalore, India in association with AVRDC-The World Vegetable Center (Taiwan) and Cornell University (USA) will be organizing the Seventh International Workshop on Management of the Diamondback Moth and Other Crucifer Insect Pests during March 23-27, 2015 in Bangalore, India.
The website for Registration and other workshop related details is http://www.dbmworkshopindia.org/. The website will soon be updated with additional details.
I shall appreciate if you could share this information with your colleagues and the Graduate students in your organization.
Thanks for your attention, and looking forward to have your support and participation in this workshop.
Dr. R. Srinivasan PhD
Entomologist and Head of Entomology Group
AVRDC-The World Vegetable Center
60 Yi Ming Liao, Shanhua
Tainan 74151, Taiwan
Ph:+886 6 583 7801 Extn.426 (O); 812 (R)
Fax:+886 6 583 0009
PUBLIC RELEASE DATE: 3-Jul-2014
Contact: Caroline Wood
Society for Experimental Biology
Many modern crops have high productivity, but have lost their ability to produce certain defence chemicals, making them vulnerable to attack by insects and pathogens. Swiss scientists are exploring ways to help protect 21st century maize by re-arming it with its ancestral chemical weapons.
The researchers, led by Dr Ted Turlings (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland), found that many varieties of modern maize have lost their ability to produce a chemical called E-β-caryophyllene. This chemical is normally produced by traditional ancestors of modern maize roots when the plant is under attack from invading corn rootworms. The chemical attracts ‘friendly’ nematode worms from the surrounding soil which, in turn, kill the corn rootworm larvae within a few days.
The scientists used genetic transformation to investigate if restoring E-β-caryophyllene emission would protect maize plants against corn rootworms. After introducing a gene from oregano, the transformed maize plants released E- β-caryophyllene constantly. As a result, these plants attracted more nematodes and suffered less damage from an infestation of Western Corn Rootworms.
“Plant defences can be direct, such as the production of toxins, or indirect, using volatile substances that attract the natural enemies of the herbivores” says lead scientist, Dr Ted Turlings (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland). One of the types of toxins that maize plants produce against their enemies is a class of chemicals called benzoxazinoids. These protect maize against a range of insects, bacteria and fungi pests, yet some species have developed resistance against these toxins and may even exploit them to identify the most nutritious plant tissues.
These results show how knowledge of natural plant defences can be practically applied in agricultural systems. “We are studying the wild ancestor of maize (teosinte) to find out which other chemical defences may have been lost during domestication of maize” Dr Turlings added. “These lost defences might then be reintroduced into modern cultivars”.