Last year, one of the strongest El Niño events ever recorded caused significant changes to weather patterns around the world. Southern and Eastern Africa were hit particularly hard and suffered some of the worst drought conditions for decades, with as little as a quarter of the expected rainfall in the last few months of the […]
Archive for the ‘Climate change’ Category
NAU study finds – NAU News : NAU News
NAU study finds drought-quenching bacteria protect plants from climate stress
By 2050, when the world’s population will exceed 9 billion, food demand is expected to more than double.
Although agricultural improvements have boosted food production in the past 50 years, drought and salinization threaten more than half of the planet’s arable land. A team of researchers at Northern Arizona University’s Center for Ecosystem Science and Society recently published findings in the scientific journal Plant and Soil showing soil-borne bacteria could help mitigate crop losses due to drought.
Led by NAU doctoral student Rachel Rubin, the researchers conducted a meta-analysis, reviewing more than 50 scientific studies from throughout the world. When plants in the studies were provided with growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR), a diverse group of organisms known for their root and rhizosphere colonizing ability, vegetable and grain yields increased 20 to 45 percent. The benefits of rhizobacteria were even greater in plants grown in a drought compared to their well-watered counterparts.
Like the human gut, plants have a tight relationship with their root microbiome, a relationship that has existed long before agriculture. Industrialized agriculture—extensive irrigation, inorganic fertilizers and artificial selection for high-yielding varieties—may have weakened this linkage, rendering plants more susceptible to extreme climate events.
“Our findings show heirloom cultivars, hybrid crops and even transgenic crops can still ‘remember’ how to interact with these beneficial bacteria,” Rubin said. “We just need to provide them the opportunity.”
Bacterial byproducts are a hot research area as a means to improve crop yields, with some species able to extract rare nutrients from soil and protect plants against pathogens. A well-known example is Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which produces a biological pesticide that kills corn rootworm. The NAU study highlights a new direction—that rhizobacteria can consistently confer a protective effect during times of climate stress.
Applying intact, living organisms to soil also may help to restore soil health in the long run.
“If plants can maintain a reservoir of beneficial organisms from germination until harvest time, the benefit of PGPR may endure for multiple growing seasons,” Rubin said. “Evaluating inoculum longevity in the field is the next major step toward applying these bacteria on a larger scale.”
The United Nations estimates 12 million hectares of arable land are lost to drought and desertification each year. The authors hope sourcing PGPR from agricultural and natural areas that are already drought-prone will help farmers restore productivity to degraded agricultural soils.
A few researchers, including Salme Timmusk at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, are doing just that. They discovered bacteria isolated from the rhizosphere of wild barley growing in the desert under conditions of high stress were more likely to solubilize phosphorus, form biofilms and produce enzymes that slow wilting compared to bacteria isolated from plants grown in a lower stress environment.
Timmusk, who was not involved in the NAU study, welcomed the analysis.
“The study by Rubin and colleagues is of high scientific and social importance because it illustrates the potential of native soil bacteria to solve issues raised with global challenges,” Timmusk said. “While relevance of human gut microbiome has been broadly accepted, wide-scale application of native soil bacteria with crop plants is still in its infancy.”
Timmusk’s team is developing a consortium of rhizobacteria collected from Mount Lemmon in Arizona, the Negev Desert in Israel and the Tina Plain in Giza, Egypt, for field application in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The commercial use of the plant-beneficial bacteria will require a number of issues to be addressed, such as carefully matching specific bacterial communities to different crop plants and through developing efficient delivery methods to use the technology at large scales in the field,” Timmusk said.
The arid and semi-arid regions of the world, where this biotechnology is most needed, may be the ideal places to look for new drought-adapted bacterial heroes.
FAO – News Article: Maize, rice, wheat farming must become more sustainable
World experts agree improved crop varieties need to go hand-in-hand with eco-friendly farming systems
Rome, 19 December 2014 – Cereal-based farming systems must join the transition to sustainable agriculture if they are to meet unprecedented demand for maize, rice and wheat. That was one of the key messages to emerge from a meeting held by FAO this week and attended by leading crop production specialists.
FAO estimates that over the next 35 years farmers will need to increase the annual production of maize, rice and wheat to 3 billion tonnes, or half a billion tonnes more than 2013’s record combined harvests.
They will need to do that with less water, fossil fuel and agrochemicals, on farmland that has been widely degraded by decades of intensive crop production, and in the face of droughts, new pest and disease threats, and extreme weather events provoked by climate change.
Experts at the meeting said that that challenge could only be met with eco-friendly agriculture that achieves higher productivity while conserving natural resources, adapting to climate change, and delivering economic benefits to the world’s 500 million small-scale family farms.
The meeting focused on maize, rice and wheat because those three crops are fundamental to world food security, providing 50 percent of humanity’s dietary energy supply. Cereals are also increasingly vulnerable: climate trends since 1980 have reduced the annual global maize harvest by an estimated 23 million tonnes and the wheat harvest by 33 million tonnes. Green Revolution cereal yield increases, once averaging a spectacular 3 percent a year, have fallen to around 1 percent since 2000.
In Asia, the degradation of soils and the buildup of toxins in intensive paddy systems have raised concerns that the slowdown in yield growth reflects a deteriorating crop-growing environment.
The FAO meeting agreed that agriculture can no longer rely on input-intensive agriculture to increase crop production. Improved varieties of maize, rice and wheat must go hand-in-hand with what FAO calls “Save and Grow” farming systems that keep soil healthy, integrate crop, tree and animal production, use water far more efficiently, and protect crops with integrated pest management.
Examples of ecosystem-based farming
Papers presented at the meeting provided an inventory of proven ecosystem-based farming technologies and practices, including:
- In Viet Nam, more than a million small-scale farmers have adopted the System of Rice Intensification, which produces high yields using less fertilizer, water and seed than conventional irrigated rice
- In China, planting genetically diverse rice varieties in the same field has cut fungal disease incidence so significantly, compared to monocropped rice, that many farmers were able to stop spraying fungicide
- In southern India, site-specific nutrient management, which matches nitrogen inputs to plants’ real needs, has reduced fertilizer applications and costs, while increasing wheat yields by 40 percent
- The elimination of soil tillage on wheat land in central Morocco cut water runoff volume by 30 percent and sediment loss by 70 percent, leading to increased water holding capacity that boosts crop productivity in drier seasons.
- In Zimbabwe, conservation agriculture has helped smallholder farmers produce up to eight times more maize per hectare than the national average.
- Farmers in Zambia grow an acacia tree, Faidherbia albida, near maize fields and use its nitrogen-rich leaves as natural fertilizer and a protective mulch during the rainy season, resulting in a threefold increase in yields.
The challenge facing policymakers is to accelerate the adoption of “Save and Grow” farming systems. One clear need flagged by the meeting was greater support to smallholder farmers in adapting ecosystem-based farming practices to local conditions, which will require the revision of national policies, considerable upgrading of extension services and approaches that reduce the transaction costs of knowledge sharing, such as farmers’ field schools.
The FAO forum was attended by 50 crop production specialists from AfricaRice, CIMMYT, FAO, ICARDA, IWMI, IRRI, and agricultural development institutions in Asia and Latin America. Their findings will be presented in a policymakers’guide, Save and Grow: Maize, rice and wheat to be published in 2015.
Help for national programs supporting smallholder farmers
“African communities are highly dependent on agriculture, which is vulnerable to unpredictable changes in climatic conditions,” said Dr. Jürgen Kroschel, CIP’s Agroecology and Integrated Pest Management science leader. “Any increase in temperature caused by climate change will have drastic effects on pest invasions and outbreaks affecting pest management, crop production and food security.”
Climate change will exacerbate existing vulnerabilities of resource-constrained farmers who depend on agriculture for a living. CIP launched the Pest Risk Atlas for Africa to benefit researchers and extension workers involved in pest risk analysis and pest management. Ultimately, this information will create better awareness of current and future pest risks under climate change and promote the inclusion of pest risk adaptation plans at country level. Consequently, it may lead to the adaptation of sustainable pest control methods that are not overly dependent on pesticides and therefore are best suited for farmers in Africa to improve their food security and daily lives under future climates.
In its global pest management research efforts, CIP’s Agroecology and Integrated Pest Management program developed a scientific framework based on advanced pest phenology modeling and Geographic Information System risk mapping to better understand future pest risks on global, regional, and local scales and to use this information for adaptation planning.
The Pest Risk Atlas for Africa provides detailed information for pest risk analysis including:
- Detection and identification, morphology, and biology with an emphasis on temperature-dependent development
- Means of movement and dispersal, economic impact, geographical distribution, and phytosanitary risks
- Risk mapping under current and future climates: global risk and regional risks for Africa with individual country risk maps
- Phytosanitary measures and adaptation to risk avoidance at farm level.
On average, 30-50% of the yield losses in agricultural crops are caused by pests, despite the application of pesticides to control them. Climate, especially temperature, has a strong and direct influence on the development and growth of insect pest populations. A rise in temperature due to climate change may both increase or decrease pest development rates. Hence, an increase in temperature can potentially affect range expansion and outbreaks of many insect pests. Therefore, if adequate integrated pest management (IPM) strategies are not developed and made available to farmers, greater losses in crop yield and quality could ultimately result.
Natural enemies play an important role in managing pests and are often used in classical biocontrol programs to manage invasive non-indigenous pests. It is important to better understand how climate change will affect this trophic level and how crop management can build and rely on biocontrol strategies. The Pest Atlas for Africa includes important data and mapping information to better use this powerful pest management option.
The Pest Risk Atlas for Africa is now available online at http://cipotato.org/riskatlasforafrica/and will be periodically updated and enriched with new pest chapters. All individual pest and biocontrol agent chapters can be downloaded for free. It also contains interactivity that allows users to zoom into maps, and do quick searches for specific information.
The International Potato Center, known by its Spanish acronym CIP, was founded in 1971 as a root and tuber research-for-development institution delivering sustainable solutions to the pressing world problems of hunger, poverty, and the degradation of natural resources. CIP is truly a global center, with headquarters in Lima, Peru and offices in 20 developing countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Working closely with our partners, CIP seeks to achieve food security, increased well-being, and gender equity for poor people in the developing world. CIP furthers its mission through rigorous research, innovation in science and technology, and capacity strengthening regarding root and tuber farming and food systems.
CIP is part of the CGIAR Systems Organization, a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for a food secure future. CGIAR research is dedicated to reducing rural poverty, increasing food security, improving human health and nutrition, and ensuring more sustainable management of natural resources. Donors include individual countries, major foundations, and international entities.
Contributed by Kritika Babbar, CABI India
Climate change has emerged as one of the most important environmental, social and economic issues today – especially for South Asia, which is highly impacted by these changes. In light of this, an international conference on Biodiversity, Climate Change Assessment and Impacts on Livelihood (ICBCL) was convened in Kathmandu from 10-12 January 2017. The conference was opened by Bidhya Devi Bhandari, the President of Nepal, and saw participation from eminent scientists, policy makers and development workers across the agriculture sector in South Asia.
Plantwise was invited to showcase its work on climate change and Tuta absoluta in three developing regions – Asia, Africa and South America. CABI and Nepal’s Plant Protection Directorate (responsible for Plantwise implementation in Nepal) highlighted their role in reporting, monitoring and disseminating information about the pest to farmers in Nepal. Since Tuta absoluta was first reported in Nepal in 2016, plant clinics have been aiding in both monitoring and management of the invasive pest. CABI staff also took the opportunity to raise awareness about the upcoming launch of CABI’s Invasive Species programme and highlighted the synergy between it and Plantwise as a holistic approach to address pests like Tuta absouta. The presentation was well received and Plantwise’s global approach to coordinate efforts against the spread of plant pests and diseases was widely recognised as particularly efficient.
The majority of the information in this book is drawn from technologies developed, tested, validated, and implemented by the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab (previously known as the Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Program-IPM CRSP), supported by USAID Cooperative Agreements awarded to Virginia Tech.
Chap.1 – IPM for Food and Environmental Security in the Tropics
Chap. 2 – IPM Packages for Tropical Vegetable Crops
Chap. 3 – Virus Diseases of Tropical Vegetable Crops and Their Management
Chap. 4 – Exploring the Potential of Trichoderma for the Management of Seed and Soil-Borne Diseases of Crops
Chap. 5 – Physical, Mechanical and Cultural Control of Vegetable Insects
Chap. 6 – Integrated Pest Management of Cruciferous Vegetables
Chap. 7 – Integrated Pest Management of Okra in India
Chap. 8 – Integrated Pest Management of Onion in India
Chap. 9 – IPM Packages for Naranjilla: Sustainable Production in an Environmentally Fragile Region
Chap. 10 – IPM Technologies for Potato Producers in Highland Ecuador
Chap. 11 – Integrated Pest Management for Vegetable Crops in Bangladesh
Chap. 12 – Development and Dissemination of Vegetable IPM Practices in Nepal
Chap. 13 – IPM Vegetable Systems in Uganda
Chap. 14 – Impacts of IPM on Vegetable Production in the Tropics
ISBN 978-94-024-0922-2 ISBN 978-94-024-0924-6 (eBook)
Library of Congress Control Number: 2016957790
IAPPS Secretary General
Asia Program Manager, IPM Innovation Lab
Fungal disease reduces onion produce
July 27, 2016 9:53 pm
AGGRAVATED by climate change, fungal disease infection resulted in yield losses in the onion supply in Badoc town in Ilocos Norte. An assessment by the municipal agriculture office revealed that the areas planted to the red onion variety have decreased by almost 50 percent because of the sudden occurrence of the plant’s disease during this year’s planting season. Cornelio Dinong, Badoc municipal agricultural technologist, said the dominant fungal diseases that hit the growing onions are the “anthracnose” and the purple blotch, which usually develop during drizzles and the rainy season, and are further aggravated by climate change. To eliminate the fungal disease causing microorganisms, intensified information campaign was staged urging local farmers to practice soil sterilization and crop rotation at the onset of planting season. Farmers, meanwhile, have chosen to grow hybrid corn, mungbean and high value vegetables in their field in lieu of onion.