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Farming UK

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Soil and rootsThe soil around roots of plants such as barley – one of our most important crops – is a battleground where only certain bacteria can survive, suggests evidence gathered by a Scottish and German research team.

 

Researchers from the University of Dundee, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research used a massive sequencing approach called metagenomics to identify the major groups of bacteria that flourish in and around the roots of barley plants.

Their results suggest that the soil surrounding plant roots is a battleground where only certain bacteria can survive, including ‘friendly’ ones that help plants to extract nutrients from soil.

Interactions between soil, soil microbes and plants form a developing and vitally important area of research as the world looks to solve the problems of managing sustainable agricultural productivity to feed an ever growing global population.

“Despite the complexity of organisms in the soil, only a few bacterial families dominate in and around barley roots, and many soil bacteria are excluded,” said Dr Davide Bulgarelli, Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Fellow in Plant Sciences at the University of Dundee and based at The James Hutton Institute.

“Those groups that do survive are enriched in genes that bacteria use when invading a plant host, when interacting with other microbes, or when defending themselves against viruses, suggesting very active struggles for dominance.

“These new results are an important step towards understanding how we might rationally exploit soil interactions for sustainable intensification of agriculture in the future to ensure food security.”

The results of the study are contained in a manuscript published in the journal Cell Host and Microbe.

Co-author Ruben Garrido-Oter, CEPLAS PhD student from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, said, “Bacterial genes involved in iron mobilisation and sugar transport are also prominent among the groups that survive, hinting at beneficial exchanges of nutrients between plant and microbes.”

The researchers’ hypothesis is that plant-bacterium, bacterium-bacterium and virus-bacterium interactions cooperatively shape the barley microbiota, the microbial population associated with barley roots.

“Several aspects of the plant microbiota remain unknown but our research has uncovered molecular mechanisms which can now be investigated in greater detail,” concluded senior authors Prof Alice McHardy from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and Prof Paul Schulze-Lefert from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research.

Useful interactions with soil microbes can bring benefits to crops by increasing yield and protecting them from disease.

Barley is Scotland’s most important crop. The barley genome is in the process of being sequenced by a global consortium led by researchers in Dundee, Germany, Australia and the USA and its availability will provide further opportunities for the Scottish/German group to provide ever greater research possibilities to benefit sustainable crop production.

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Jerusalem Post

 

By SHARON UDASIN 02/22/2015

Nematode wormsNematode worms.. (photo credit:BIOBEE)
Originating in Southeast Asia, the red palm weevil has spread throughout the Mediterranean area as well as other countries such as China, Japan and even the United states, according to Agriculture Ministry data. The larvae of the weevil gnaw into the trunks and crowns of palm trees and cause severe damage – usually leading to the death and collapse of the tree and the destruction of entire orchards or parks.

In Israel, the red palm weevils first presented itself in palm groves north of the Dead Sea in 1999, after which they were controlled through mass trappings and chemical treatments, according to the Agriculture Ministry. Infections have occurred on and off since.

BioBee, a company that engages in “biologically based integrated pest management” – using living organisms to control agricultural pests – has brought in the nematode worms, which are not dangerous in any way to humans or animals, the company said.

The firm stressed that the weevils have become resistant to many of the chemical treatments against them, which can also be toxic to humans or other animals.

As part of the biologically based control method, workers place nematode worms in each of the affected palm trees, and the worms are able to identify the red palm weevil larvae and target them, BioBee said. The nematodes infect the weevils in a parasitic way, causing their death and dying with them as they lose their own food source.

In addition to bringing in the nematodes, BioBee is also making use of traps from Spain that mimic the smell of an infected tree. The weevils are attracted to the smell and enter the trap to drown. This method has proved successful in the Canary Islands, which have also suffered damage from the weevils, the company said.

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/42-billion-worms-airlifted-from-Germany-to-combat-palm-weevil-crisis-391817

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Scientific American logo

 

 

 

 

Food Matters

By Kelly Izlar | February 4, 2015

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American. Editor’s Note: Kelly Izlar is a Guest Contributor to Food Matters

Tuta absoluta is the scientific name of a moth no bigger than your eyelash. But considering how dastardly the pest can be, it might belong with the other bad guys. T. absoluta has a voracious appetite, and its favorite food is tomatoes. In fact, its alter ego name is “tomato leaf-miner,” because it literally mines through tomatoes, destroying the plant and leaving the fruit pockmarked and inedible. tuta S american

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustration by Steven White: sketchysteven.tumblr.com.

A female leaf-miner will lay about 260 eggs in a lifetime, which is 30-40 days. The eggs stick to the underside of tomato leaves and stems. After hatching, the larvae will nosh on every part of the plant. When satiated, they drop to the ground, pupate, and start the whole process over again. So what? Insects sometimes eat our vegetables, and it’s unfortunate, but you get over it, right? Maybe that’s true if you only occasionally fancy a slice of heirloom tomato topped with gourmet sea salt. But tomato is one of the most produced and consumed horticultural crops in the world. In West Africa alone, more than 500,000 farmers make their living by growing tomatoes. T. absoluta has been known to reduce crop yields by 80-100% on tomato farms. It attacks at any stage from seedling to sandwich, targeting farms and processing plants alike. Muni Muniappan, the director of the Virginia Tech-led Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Innovation Lab, has made the fight against this invasive pest his personal crusade. He’s traveled to three continents to conduct workshops and consult with growers and politicians about how best to combat this menace. The IPM Innovation Lab, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is a collaboration of scientists from all over the world who work to find sustainable solutions to agricultural problems in developing countries; and the tomato leaf-miner is a big problem. tuta  map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustration by Steven White: http://sketchysteven.tumblr.com/

Hailing from South America, this pest hitched a ride across the Atlantic in 2006, showing up first in Spain, and then spreading through most of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. In the past four years, it has crossed the Sahara desert into Senegal. With great speed, the leaf-miner established itself on both sides of the continent, decimating crops in the highlands of Ethiopia and the equatorial plains of Uganda, Kenya, and most recently, Tanzania. Muniappan and other researchers have spent the past few years warning about the impending onslaught, but many smallholder farmers have still been woefully unprepared for Tuta’s appetite. They have been frantically spraying insecticides to stave off the assault, but the pest is developing resistance to popular chemicals in these areas, while populations of beneficial insects are being wiped out. The frequent applications are not so good for humans either. “There’s no silver bullet for Tuta,” Muniappan says. “An invasion is irreversible; we can’t eradicate it. But we can control it, and we need to use every means at our disposal.” Muniappan’s prescription is “integrated pest management” in a nutshell. Instead of focusing on one method of pest management, IPM recommends a combination of common sense practices. If one doesn’t work, all is not lost. And in the case of Tuta absoluta, there are a number of viable steps to combat the hungry moth that don’t involve lathering pesticide over the tomatoes like mayonnaise. In the early stages of invasion, researchers suggest installing sex pheromone traps and using biological and plant-based insecticides. Once the pest has settled into a field, farmers are encouraged to remove and destroy damaged fruit and apply less toxic pesticides more infrequently. But studies show that releasing biological control agents would be the best move. This means using T. absoluta’s own natural enemies against it. Predatory bugs are already being used to fight Tuta in many European countries, and surveys have shown that there are a number of local insects that could be effective against Tuta on the African fronts. These “bioagents” also come without the hefty economic and environmental price tag of high-toxicity pesticides. The first and greatest hurdle is almost always a lack of information. Farmers don’t necessarily know what’s whittling away at their crops and or how to defend themselves against it. “We must establish relationships with locals, share data, and collaborate,” Muniappan says. “It is crucial that we educate growers – they see things first, and they have the most to lose.” Researchers who work with the IPM Innovation Lab and other like-minded programs are stationed throughout the continent, hosting workshops, symposia, and farmer schools to help tomato growers learn to identify the signs and behavior of Tuta absoluta. In most superhero comics, readers can usually distinguish heroes from villains, and good will most likely prevail over evil. But in the real world, ends don’t always justify the means, and there is rarely an unambiguous victory. Tuta absoluta isn’t evil – it’s an insect that reacts naturally to an evolving environment. Climate change, shifting weather systems, global population growth, trade patterns – all of these are uncontrolled variables with unsounded impacts. But the means by which this insect is adapting makes life harder for people who already struggle to meet basic needs. The IPM Innovation Lab and many other scientific and humanitarian programs around the world seek to strike a balance – helping people without hurting the environment. “We’re trying to get the technology to the people who need it the most,” Muniappan says. “We can reduce pesticide use, which makes the environment safer. We can improve health and increase food production. We can make a difference in the lives of poor people in developing countries.” Kelly Izlar About the Author: Kelly Izlar is a science writer and the communications coordinator for the Virginia Tech-led Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab, a USAID-funded program that seeks to raise the standard of living of farmers in developing countries by helping them find sustainable solutions to pest problems.

Follow the program on Twitter@ipmcrsp or visit their website. Follow the author on Twitter @kellyizlar or visit her website. Follow on Twitter@KellyIzlar.

Note: There will be a Tuta absoluta workshop, organized by Dr. Muniappan of the VA Tech IPM Innovation Lab, at the XVIII International Plant Protection Congress in Berlin, 24-27 August 2015 www.ippc2015.de  In addition there will be numerous paper and poster presentations on this emerging and invasive species.

E. A. “Short” Heinrichs

IAPPS Secretary General

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Norton book 1224Norton book 2225Norton book 3

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ipm crsp logo

 

IPM INNOVATION LAB

Feed the Future Lab for Integrated Pest Management

 

 

 

IPM Innovation Lab Call for Concept Notes
Call for Concept Notes:
1. IPM for exportable fruit crops in Vietnam
The USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management at Virginia Tech invites the submission of concept notes from U.S. universities, CGIAR institutions, and host country institutions to compete to lead the IPM for Exportable Fruit Crops in Vietnam. Concept notes will be reviewed and may lead to an invitation to submit a full proposal.
U.S. universities as defined under Section 296(d) of Title XII of the Foreign Assistance Act, CGIAR, and host country institutions are eligible to apply as the lead institution for a period of 4.5 years. Total funding (single award) is $0.8 million. Collaboration or partnerships with relevant and appropriate host country organizations, other universities, the CGIAR system, and/or development community partners is required.
Concept notes for IPM for exportable fruit Crops in Vietnam are due January 30, 2015. For complete information see: http://goo.gl/oJ2kuv

2. Biological control of the invasive weed Parthenium hysterophorus in East Africa
The USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management at Virginia Tech invites the submission of concept notes from U.S. universities, CGIAR institutions, and host country institutions to compete to lead the Biological control of the invasive weed Parthenium hysterophorus in East Africa. Concept notes will be reviewed and may lead to an invitation to submit a full proposal.
U.S. universities as defined under Section 296(d) of Title XII of the Foreign Assistance Act, CGIAR, and host country institutions are eligible to apply as the lead institution for a period of 4.5 years. Total funding (single award) is $0.75 million. Collaboration or partnerships with relevant and appropriate host country organizations, other universities, the CGIAR system, and/or development community partners is required.
Concept notes for Biological control of the invasive weed Parthenium hysterophorus in East Africa are due January 30, 2015.

For complete information see: http://goo.gl/oJ2kuv
The Virginia Tech IPM Innovation Lab is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development under cooperative agreement AID-OOA-L-15-00001.
Copyright © 2014 Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Integrated Pest Management, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Integrated Pest Management
Office of International Research, education, and Development (OIRED)
526 Prices Fork Rd (0378)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

 

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Press Release

Virginia Tech University

Friday, December 19, 2014

Blacksburg, VA, USA

University awarded $18 million to implement integrated pest management program in developing countries
Virginia Tech has won a new $18 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for a research program that will work to raise the standard of living of people around the world through environmentally sound agricultural practices as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab (formerly Collaborative Research Support Program) for Integrated Pest Management will conduct research and extension activities with farmers, counterpart universities, and host-country government research institutes to implement ecologically sustainable pest and disease control strategies. The predecessor programs to this new award have been led by Virginia Tech University for the past 21 years.
USAID recently announced that Virginia Tech would once again lead the program, a move that represents a vote of confidence in the work that has been ongoing since 1993. The new program will have a strong foundation in areas such as sustainable intensification, ecological service provision, ecological research, and empowerment of women farmers.
“We’ve been forming partnerships, conducting research, and getting to know farmers all over the world for the past two decades,” said Rangaswamy “Muni” Muniappan, who has led the Innovation Lab since 2006. “Our work has shown great results, and we look forward to continuing the fight against hunger.”
The competitively-awarded program will address new and emerging pest problems that plague farmers in the developing world, as well as model and manage the spread of invasive species. Program scientists will also be investigating ways to preserve biodiversity and offset the impacts of climate change on agricultural pests and diseases.
The new Innovation Lab, managed by Virginia Tech’s Office of International Research, Education, and Development, will commit its core resources to Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania in Africa and to Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Nepal, and Vietnam in Asia.
The Asian arm of the program will include two main sub-programs: one focused on rice in Burma and Cambodia, and a second on horticultural crops in Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Vietnam. The Nepal program will additionally address integrated pest management for grains and climate change impacts.
The projects in eastern Africa will focus on innovative crop protection research for increased production and preservation of high-priority Feed the Future staple crops like maize, wheat, and chickpea in Ethiopia; rice and maize in Tanzania; and high-value vegetables in Kenya and Tanzania. The program will also research and implement new strategies to control existing and emergent pest infestations in countries where farmers with limited resources are predicted to be heavily affected by climate variability.
“This program has been working on the ground with poor farmers, making a difference in their lives, and contributing to global food security,” said Guru Ghosh, vice president for Outreach and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. “We’re pleased to have the opportunity to learn from past challenges and build on our successes.”
As in all the previous phases of the program, U.S. researchers will strengthen and forge new partnerships with international colleagues and work directly with farmers. The core tenets will remain unchanged: The program will strive to reduce pesticide use, increase food production, improve health, and make a difference in the lives of poor people in developing countries all over the world.
“A small innovation in a farmer’s life can have a huge impact on their family and on succeeding generations,” said Muniappan.

About Feed the Future
Feed the Future (www.feedthe future.gov) is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty and undernutrition.

About USAID
USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.
About 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.

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http://grist.org/food/relax-california-isnt-about-to-dump-pesticides-on-organic-farms/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520Nov%252013&utm_campaign=daily

By Nathanael Johnson
13 Nov 2014 12:40 PM

legos-pesticides

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a story going round right now that makes it sound like the California Department of Food and Agriculture is planning to spray pesticides on organic farms, forcing them to go conventional. What’s actually happening is a lot less exciting, but still worth knowing about.

First, the background: Yes, the state of California does pest control — and that’s a good thing. Insect control doesn’t work very well if it’s done in a patchwork. You knock out some here and some there, but the bugs between those patches thrive and come back stronger the next year. This is especially true when you’re dealing with a non-native organism that’s just been introduced. If you can get rid of those pioneers, you have far less need for pest control in the long run.

For about the last 20 years, California has used integrated pest management — which means it tries to handle problems without chemicals, if at all possible. Often this means using biological controls, releasing predators or parasites that will kill the pest.

For instance: Every day, an airplane flies over the Los Angeles basin, releasing a stream of sterile male Mediterranean fruit flies. Those flies go out and mate with the females, preventing them from reproducing. It works, and it has prevented farmers from turning to pesticides.

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And then there are times when the state decides that the best way to deal with a pest is with a chemical pesticide. And yes, if the state decides it really needs to, it can spray on someone’s farm, even an organic farm. That has actually occurred, said Steve Lyle, spokesperson for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, but it’s incredibly rare.

All this has been going on for years. But now the state has put out a new environmental impact report that details everything it does in pest control. The individual programs — like the Mediterranean fruit fly program — all have their own environmental approvals. All this new report does is put everything into one document and update it. “This doesn’t give us any new authority,” Lyle said.

Still, this is an opportunity for stakeholders like the organic farmers to weigh in. Most of the time, the state’s pest control doesn’t happen in farmland. But it could.

In an email, Lyle wrote:

[I]n rare cases, it may be necessary for the Department to require treatment by producers. While a great deal of time and resources are dedicated to finding organic approaches, if a suitable approach cannot be identified, a producer would not lose organic status. The organic industry worked with regulators to make sure that provision is in federal law.

The draft report notes that, in this scenario, organic farmers would lose money, because they’d have to sell their crop without the organic premium that season. But they could return to organic production the next year. Individual farmers would pay a price — but in the long run, there would be less spraying overall, and fewer losses for organic farmers at large.

 

 

 

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