Four new bee species described in Australia – many more remain unidentified

by Miroslav Djuric, DVM, CABI. Reblogged from CABI’s Hand Picked blog.

One of the new species of Australian bee, Euhesma albamala
One of the new species of Australian bee, Euhesma albamala. Copyright: K. Hogendoorn, M. Stevens, R. Leijs, CC BY 4.0 license

Bee specialists from South Australia have described four new native bees. Three of these bee species have been described as  having narrow faces and very long mouths, allowing them to feed on slender flowers found on the emu bush, a hardy native of the Australian desert environment, and to collect the nectar through a narrow constriction at the base of the emu bush flowers. Based on the authors’ description, the way these bees have adapted to feed on emu bush flowers is an excellent example of evolution. The fourth species belongs to a different group and has a more commonly observed round-shaped head.

The four new species belong to the genus Euhesma. Their description is based on evaluation of DNA ‘barcoding’ and morphological comparison of the bees with museum specimens.

The study was led by K. Hogendoorn of the University of Adelaide and was carried out in collaboration with specialists from the South Australian Museum. The results of the study are published in the journal ZooKeys.

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Tackling climate change and agriculture at COP21 – a look at the landscape approach

by Dr Trevor Nicholls, CEO, CABI

In the Fields in Sherpur, Himachal Pradesh, India
Photo credit: Michael Foley, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license

At COP21 last week, the world’s leaders agreed on a way forward to manage climate change. Limiting global warming to less than two percent was undoubtedly a landmark decision and, for the first time, there was unanimous recognition that humans impact the climate and that humans must do something about it.

I was honoured to deliver an address to the UNFCCC on CABI’s work in agriculture and the environment, specifically highlighting our knowledge and science-based initiatives like Plantwise that help smallholder farmers living in rural communities grow more and lose less of their produce, and embrace climate smart agricultural processes.

Talking about these projects, it struck me how agriculture has been caught in the centre of the COP21 debate as both a cause and a victim of climate change, and how – as the foundation of food security – agriculture must be carefully managed. A perfect storm is brewing of increased global warming and growing global population, which places pressure on agriculture to produce more outputs using fewer resources like land and water. How we feed a world of 9 billion people by 2050, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, is one of the most important questions we must ask and answer. Continue reading

Who owns open agricultural data?

This is an edited re-blog from an Open Data Institute (ODI) blog post published under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 UK license

by Martin Parr, Head of Open Data at CABI. Follow Martin on Twitter.

Kenya tablets at a plant clinic
Plantwise plant doctor gives advice to a farmer and delivers it by SMS. Credit: Holly Wright, copyright: CABI.

The Plantwise programme has developed a knowledge bank to share Good Agricultural Practice and a very high level of anonymised data about incidences of plant pests and diseases.

Success of the CABI Plantwise programme is measured by the extent to which it provides advice to farmers, agencies and governments in tackling pests. Increasingly it’s moving away from solely giving advice at a local level, to also understanding national, regional and global trends.

Through our partnerships with governments, extension workers, NGOs and others on the ground, we’ve collected data through thousands of recorded consultations with farmers. To date, we’ve documented 150,000 cases globally in 34 countries which highlight the everyday concerns of small- and medium-sized farms around the world.

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Open Data & Farming 101

GODAN-Logoby Ben Schaap, Tim Davies and Ana Brandusescu, GODAN

What is open data?

We all make decisions everyday based on different sources of information. Much of that information ultimately starts out as digital data. Open data is about changing the default, so that instead of being locked away for the benefit of a few, data is accessible as widely as possible.

Open data is data that anyone can access, use and share. In practice, that means making data accessible online, putting in standard digital forms which are machine-readable and having terms or licenses that allow anyone to reuse the data for anything [1]. Continue reading

Plant doctors share advice using WhatsApp and Facebook in Central America

by Erica Chernoh and Eduardo Hidalgo, CABI

Haga clic para la versión español de abajo

Discussion of symptoms and a diagnosis on the WhatsApp group for plant doctors in Honduras
Discussion of symptoms and a diagnosis on the WhatsApp group for plant doctors in Honduras

 

The software application WhatsApp is being used by plant doctors in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras to provide and receive plant diagnostic support. WhatsApp has proven to be popular in many countries, because it is a free communication tool for sending and receiving SMS messages. Continue reading

Plantwise Vietnam welcomes the Chairman, Governing Board of CABI

Report by Dr Sivapragasam Annamalai, CABI Country Coordinator for Plantwise Vietnam

Mr. Philip Walters, the Chairman of the Governing Board, CABI visited a plant clinic in Tan My Chanh Village, My Tho City, Tien Giang Province, south Vietnam on the 2nd  November, 2015.  It was his first ever visit to a plant clinic in operation. During the visit, he was accompanied by Dr. Nguyen Van Tuat, the Vice President of VAAS and National Coordinator of Plantwise Vietnam; Dr. Nguyen Van Hoa, Director General of the Southern Fruits Research Institute (SOFRI), a local Implementing Organization of Plantwise, Vietnam and Dr. Siva Annamalai, the CABI Country Coordinator for Plantwise in Vietnam.  During the visit, he was able to see the plant doctors in action diagnosing disease samples and giving appropriate recommendations for the problems faced by mainly citrus farmers in the area.  He also interviewed some farmers and a Vice Chairman of the commune to get a feel of their perception on plant clinics and their future needs.

After the visit to the plant clinic, Mr Philip visited SOFRI and was briefed on the overall Plantwise operations in Vietnam by Dr. Tuat and Dr. Hoa. He addressed the questions raised by the Plantwise Team in Vietnam, assisted by Dr. Siva. Mr. Philip also visited the diagnostic laboratory and other Plantwise-related facilities in SOFRI.   Overall, the trip was a successful one and in the words of Mr. Philip: “impressed with the Plantwise developments going on in Vietnam”.