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  • Soybeans were an effective trap crop, pheromone traps killed stink bugs in the trap crop, and buckwheat plants fed beneficial wasps that reduced stink bug numbers.
Agricultural Research Service

Cotton growers in the United States are concerned about native stink bugs that have attacked cotton and other crops for decades.

The green stink bug (Chinavia hilaris), southern green stink bug (Nezara viridula), and brown stink bug (Euschistus servus) continue to threaten cotton. But an Agricultural Research Service scientist in Georgia has found some environmentally friendly alternatives to insecticides.

“Cotton growers are increasingly interested in producing their crops in ways that have less impact on the environment,” says ARS entomologist Patricia Glynn Tillman, who is based in Tifton, Georgia.

The three native stink bugs are immune to the insect-killing toxins incorporated into most modern cotton varieties. Insecticides are effective, but they also kill the stink bug’s natural enemies, and they often require repeated use throughout the growing season. Organic growers can’t use conventional insecticides.

Stink bugs continue to pose a serious economic threat. Last year, they collectively infested roughly a million acres of cotton in Georgia alone, and growers there spent $12 million to control them. The bugs are a particular problem in the southeastern United States, where cotton is often grown alongside peanuts. Brown and southern green stink bugs develop in peanut fields and migrate into cotton. Green stink bugs move into cotton from nearby wooded areas.

Because of work by Tillman and others, some growers are planting “trap crops,” such as soybean and grain sorghum, to lure stink bugs away from cotton. Other options include pheromone-baited traps, which capture and kill stink bugs, and nectar-producing plants, such as milkweed and buckwheat, to feed native parasitoid wasps that attack stink bugs.

In previous work, Tillman showed the effectiveness of setting up plastic barriers between the cotton and peanut rows. Her recent study focused on whether combining a trap crop, a nectar-producing plant, and pheromone traps would control stink bugs where cotton and peanuts grow.

Tillman and her colleagues grew cotton and peanuts side by side for 2 years. In the first year, they planted soybeans as a trap crop (with and without pheromone traps), between the cotton and peanut plots. In other areas, they placed 6-foot-high plastic barriers between the plots.

In the second year of the study, they added nectar-producing buckwheat plants near the cotton. Each week of the May-to-October growing season, they counted stink bugs and stink bug eggs killed by wasps, and they documented damage to cotton bolls.

They found that the plastic barriers between peanut and cotton were the most effective tool, but the multipronged approach is an effective alternative if barriers are not feasible. Soybeans were an effective trap crop, pheromone traps killed stink bugs in the trap crop, and buckwheat plants fed beneficial wasps that reduced stink bug numbers.

“Protecting Cotton From Stink Bugs” was published in the July 2016 issue of AgResearch Magazine.

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Imperial College News

The low-tech fruit fly solution worth millions to India’s mango growers

by Jenn Bywater 03 June 2016

main image

John Mumford with a Rainbow fruit fly trap. Rainbow
aims to sell 1 million traps a year.

Professor John Mumford reflects on the remarkable success of a pest-control project that’s adding value to rural life, in more ways than one.

India is the world’s biggest producer of mangoes, with around 2.5 million hectares under cultivation.

Most are grown by smallholders who rely on this crop for most of their income. There’s a healthy demand, but while good quality fruit can be sold at the farm gate for around $1.20 a kilo, damaged fruit is only good for pulp and juice, and it fetches just 20 cents a kilo.

The biggest culprit in damaging those mangoes – and their profit margin – is the ever-present fruit fly.

‘A dollar a kilo is a very big difference’

“These fruit flies lay their eggs on the surface of the fruit”, explains Professor John Mumford, Professor of Natural Resource Management; “then the maggots develop inside and once infested, they can only be sold to the processing market.”

The challenge then, is to protect the fruit while it’s growing on the trees, so that farmers can get the maximum price.

Some smallholders had tried spraying their crops, but that’s expensive and dangerous. Others had tried covering their mangoes with plastic bags, but with minimal success. As Professor Mumford explains: “What we wanted was a proven approach, adapted to meet local need.”

‘A huge collaborative effort’

John Mumford talking to two mango growers who have formed a local association to promote fruit fly control

Image above: John Mumford talking to two mango growers who have formed a local association to promote fruit fly control in their local area, with one of the fruit fly traps (and a lot of dead flies) hanging on the tree. 

“By maximising the value of their mangoes, farmers can buy essentials and send their kids to school. And it makes mango production attractive enough for the next generation, so they don’t have to move to the city and work in a factory.”

– Prof John Mumford

 

In collaboration with the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research and other partners across India, the team developed a simple but highly effective ‘lure and bait’ trap which kills the fruit fly with insecticide.

‘It’s very low tech’ says Professor Mumford; ‘but well conceived and well delivered.’ And the effect has been remarkable.

“Farmers are around $6-7,000 dollars per hectare better off and there are tens of thousands – and potentially hundreds of thousands doing it.”

In fact, this solution is estimated to be worth around $500 million a year to the Indian economy. And that money is staying in rural areas where it’s needed most.

The impact on farmers and their communities cannot be underestimated says Professor Mumford: “By maximising the value of their mangoes, farmers can buy essentials and send their kids to school. And it makes mango production attractive enough for the next generation, so they don’t have to move to the city and work in a factory.”

‘It was lovely to see how things had taken off’

“It’s a great example of how a small initial investment that showed a lot of promise, was followed up and moved to a bigger area.”

– Prof John Mumford

 

The success of this project has been particularly gratifying for Professor Mumford, given its long gestation: “It’s a great example of how a small initial investment that showed a lot of promise, was followed up and moved to a bigger area.”

In fact, its roots date back to 1998, when the Professor was awarded a small grant from the UK Department for International Development (DfID) to look at a similar problem in Pakistan. In 2000, that project won a prize – and the Professor used the money to extend the work from Pakistan into the much larger fruit growing belt in Southern India.

Seeing the impact, the Indian Government stepped in with further funding in 2005 to extend the project. They put materials into local languages, worked with the local suppliers – and it flourished. Now there are plans to move into Northern and Central India, so the potential remains huge.

‘Bring us your interesting problems’

Professor Mumford joined the staff in 1979, so he’ll be familiar to many Imperial alumni – and now he’d like to invite those alumni to “bring us interesting work”. He encourages alumni to get in touch with cases where there is a pest or disease problem that remains unsolved.

He would also be happy to hear from any alumni in large food production and importing companies who are interested in developing “a supply chain that rewards small producers”; another of his enduring passions.

As a first step, please contact Patrick Stewart, Head of Development for the Faculty of Natural Sciences, on +44 (0) 20 7594 2667 or by email to patrick.stewart@imperial.ac.uk.

Reporter

Jenn Bywater

Jenn Bywater
Advancement

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By Dyna Eam. Reblogged from the CGIAR CCAFS blog. Farmer representatives and project team members of Rohal Suong Climate-Smart Village in Cambodia learn about rice pest management in light of climate change. Many people attribute floods, droughts and cyclones to climate change and these natural disasters impact greatly on agricultural productivity. But recent scientific evidences […]

via Plant doctors to the rescue in integrated pest management — The Plantwise Blog

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http://www.freshfruitportal.com/news/2016/06/09/ladybird-dropping-drones-to-offer-eco-friendly-pest-solution/

June 09 , 2016

Danish university researchers are to develop a drone that drops ladybirds and mites, as part of an environmentally friendly new approach to combating pests.

With their tanks filled with ladybirds, predatory mites and parasitic wasps, the drones will fly over fields and spread the insects precisely where pests are ravaging crops.

The challenge, taken on by the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), is to develop a method of spreading insects without destroying them.

Associate professor Søren Wiatr Borg from the Institute of Technology and Innovation is well underway with developing the drone’s spreader to ensure the insects land safely.

Working with living insects, however, is not easy.

“Predatory mites will eat each other if they do not have anywhere to hide, so we cover them in vermiculite, which is natural soil improving agent, so that they have a place to hide,” Borg said.

Biological plant protection is being used to great success in many nurseries, where different insects are used to fight pests.

However, the EcoDrone project, led by SDU and the company Ecobotix, will make it possible to use nature’s own weapons outside of greenhouses.

“It’s about new thinking and developing technical tools that make it easier to avoid pesticides in the future,” said SDU centre leader Brad Beach.

“One of our ambitions is for the ecodrone to make it easier to grow organic food products. It will mean lower prices on organic food and also that we can better keep up with the growing international demand for organic products.”

A release from the university also highlighted the drone could be an important tool in reaching political targets for reducing the use of pesticides and promoting organic production.

“Previously, it has been difficult and far too expensive to use nature’s own pest control methods on large areas, but by using the drones it is now possible,” Borg said.

“First and foremost, it will be strawberry fields, fruit plantations and Christmas trees we will concentrate our project on, because there is a large yield in a small area, but in the long-term it is quite conceivable that the drones could fight pests in large cornfields.”

www.freshfruitportal.com

 

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Lamar Black’s biomass still stopping pigweed

  • In 1993, Lamar Black implemented conservation tillage but had been experimenting with it since the 1970s.
  • A key point to his successful conservation tillage program is his intensive management of cover crops.

Lamar Black can be considered one of the “conservation tillage pioneers” in the Southeast.

Black manages Tilmanstone Farm located in Jenkins and Burke counties in east central Georgia. The farm is 415 acres and traditionally uses a cotton, corn and peanut rotation. This year, all acres will be in cotton or peanut, partly due to current farm bill policy, Black said.

In 1993, Black implemented conservation tillage but had been experimenting with it since the 1970s. A key point to his successful conservation tillage program is his intensive management of cover crops. His conservation program started with planting into winter weeds, wheat and then ultimately rye.

Lamar Black

“When it comes to cover crops, I suggest starting with wheat, and then gradually going to a rye-based program. Rye is the best cover crop, the biomass produced is so much higher, however; you must have the right equipment and know what you are doing,” Black said.

When it comes time to plant his rye cover in the latter part of October, Lamar plants 50 pounds per acre of seed and will top dress with nitrogen at 30 pounds per acre in December or early January.

“Weed control in a cover crop is paramount for a successful stand and early growth, applying Round-up before planting your cover crop will kill henbit; which if not controlled, will lead to stunting and reduced cover crop growth,” Black said.

Black burns his rye cover crop down three weeks ahead of planting and runs a “crimper or roller” that attaches to a tractor and runs over the field, crimping the cover crop into a smooth mat to plant in. The planter will then run parallel to the roller’s path and plant seed directly into the ground. The ultimate goal will be accomplished, plant the crop into a thick vegetative mat that disturbs the soil as little as possible.

Black has been very impressed with the pigweed control he has experienced with planting into six-foot rye. “The pigweeds cannot come through the biomass, it cuts off the sunlight,” Black said.

Black said the main issue to deal with in terms of cover crop management is “dealing with heavy biomass prior to planting.”

He encourages farmers to try and use cover crops. He also encourages government agencies to stay involved in all areas of conservation tillage research and development because this is critical for the future.

“The Extension agent research is particularly interesting to me because it’s so easy to transfer to the farm. The research work that Wade Parker (local agent) and his colleagues have conducted over the years has been very beneficial to my operation. I have witnessed the data from on-farm research transform into full recommendations, used by farmers all over the Southeast.”

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IPM IL Logo      logo-feed-the-future 1     USAID logo

Research Associate, IPM Innovation Lab

 

Working Title: Research Associate, IPM Innovation Lab

Department: OIRED – International Education

Location: Blacksburg, VA + travel

Employee Category: Research Faculty

 

Position Summary:

The Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab (IPM IL) is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and conducts applied IPM research on selected crops. The IPM IL is managed by the Virginia Tech Office of International Research, Education, and Development (OIRED), which currently oversees a portfolio of approximately $46 million in international research and development projects.

A Research Associate is being sought to provide assistance and expertise to the IPM IL Management Entity (ME) in Entomology/Plant Pathology for development of various components of IPM packages for tropical vegetables and other crops in project countries. The position reports to the IPM Innovation Lab Director within OIRED at Virginia Tech.

Responsibilities include:

  • Assisting in the preparation of proposals for associate awards and other Request for Applications (from the donor agency).
  • Reviewing and participating in research programs in the IP IL host countries.
  • Contributing to scholarly publications based on project research.
  • Preparing Pesticide Evaluation Reports and Safe Use Action Plans (PERSUAPs) for the IPM IL projects.
  • Planning and participating in field days, workshops, country and regional meetings and conferences related to plant protection.
  • Coordinating with Virginia Tech, U.S. and host-country participating scientists
  • Performing other project–related responsibilities as assigned including helping prepare work plans, semi-annual reports, success stories, newsletters and other IP IL related publications as well as doing background research on program technical issues.

 

Required Qualifications:

  • PhD in Plant Pathology, Entomology, or Plant Protection related fields.
  • Experience in Integrated Pest Management.
  • Proficiency in technical writing and preparing reports and documents in a professional manner.
  • Good organizational, skills and an ability to complete assignments according to a deadline.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of computer software such as Word, Excel, Access and other data management software.
  • Ability to interact professionally with individuals from diverse, multi-cultural environments.
  • Willingness to travel overseas.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • International experience in agricultural research and development
  • Foreign language skills

 

To apply: http://listings.jobs.vt.edu:80/postings/66394

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logo-feed-the-future 1    logo-agtechxchange

 

Over the next three months Louise Labuschagne, Joint MD of Real IPM Kenya, will be attempting a world record. You are invited to watch the progress of her attempt to produce  #ZeroResidue roses and later tomatoes, on the Equator, where there are all year round growing conditions for pests and diseases – WITHOUT having to rely on chemical pesticides.  She will be bringing all the Real IPM biological control agents to bear on this formidable task.  Will she win – or will she lose? The rose greenhouse chosen for the attempt has been previously used for efficacy trials for chemical pesticides – so it has even had pests and diseases applied to the plants. As a result – the crop is very badly damaged and has high levels of pests and diseases.  The variety, Upper Class, is a beautiful rose but is susceptible to pests and diseases.  This is a very difficult scenario – but she is confident of success. Join us on Facebook and share her successes and failures.  Give us your advice as she struggles to keep pace with the pests and diseases.  How would you solve this problem biologically?

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