From discovery to eradication: the coconut rhinoceros beetle on Guam

The coconut rhinoceros beetle has damaged many palm trees in Guam © Peter Lillywhite, Museum Victoria, Pests and Diseases Image Library (CC BY 3.0 license)

It takes a large combined effort to successfully eradicate a plant pest. The Guam Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Eradication Project has finally found a technique that could bring them their own eradication success story. The coconut rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros) was first discovered in Guam on 11th September 2007. Over the past five years it has caused severe damage to coconut palms, although its initial spread was slowed by the quick reactions of the government. It is now present in many parts of the island and, as coconuts are an important economic commodity for the US territory, is high priority for removal. Read more of this post

Weaving a web of crop protection

Hogna Wolf Spider by Thomas Shahan

Spider-Man was perhaps the first to demonstrate the full effects of a spider bite: crime-fighting superpowers. But now it’s the turn of cereal crops to benefit. The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) in Australia is looking into the possibility of using spider venom as an insecticide – a potentially safe, environmentally friendly, and sustainable pest control method.

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Update: Plant Health News (28 Mar 12)

Mangoes © W.A. Djatmiko

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including IPM advice for coffee-growers in Colombia, the latest on cashew pests in Vietnam, and already predictions are being made for lemon and mango production in 2013.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!

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The road to sustainable intensification of agriculture

The biodiversity of non-cropped areas can benefit farmers © Maggi_94 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license)

Last week, Professor Tim Benton, the UK Global Food Security programme ‘champion’, wrote a guest blog post about ecosystem services and the need for sustainable intensification of agriculture. This week he follows on from this by looking at how farmers can integrate protection of ecosystem services into their land management without losing out finanically. Read more of this post

Planet under Pressure

A major international conference ‘Planet under Pressure (PUP)’ is being held in London, United Kingdom, this week, 26–29 March 2012. The meeting is being attended by scientists, industry leaders and decision makers. It will show whether science can, not only diagnose our environmental crisis, but also provide effective solutions, says David Dickson, SciDev’s editor, the official organisation providing coverage of the event. CABI is also marking its presence at Planet under Pressure.

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Why it’s time for a Spice Girl come back

A different kind of spice girl - Women Do the Fugdi Dance at Sahakari Spice Farm in Goa, India. By Chris Goldberg

The 1990’s saw some significant steps made towards equality, democracy and sustainable living. Perhaps the thing that made the biggest impact on me was the ‘Girl Power’ movement, led by none other than the Spice Girl’s – their music might have been questionable, but they certainly made an impact. Fortunately for the rest of society, the 1990’s also saw a few other movements towards this: as President of South Africa Nelson Mandela focussed on ending poverty and inequality, environmental organisations came into their own, and 1992 saw the first ever Rio Earth Summit, where meetings were held to ensure global efforts were made towards a sustainable future for an increasing human population. This year there has been another surge of activity towards empowering women and appreciating the role they play in agriculture and food security. But has this been enough to make an impression on leaders in time for this year’s Rio+20 event, or will we all be left feeling like it was just a one hit wonder?

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Ecosystem services and the need for sustainable intensification

Our first guest blog is from Professor Tim Benton. Tim is Professor of Ecology at the University of Leeds, where his research interests focus around agriculture-ecological interactions.  He also currently has a role as “Champion” for the UK’s Global Food Security programme which aims to coordinate food security related research across the major public funders. Read more of this post

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