Update: Plant Health News (9 May 12)

Disease-resistant raspberries – from FreshFruitPortal.com

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the development of disease-resistant raspberries in the U.S., news on a biofertilizer that could save citrus crops in Brazil, and how DNA barcoding could be the future of crop pest control.

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Plant-bacteria relationships a-maize scientists

The seedlings of cultivated Zea mays. Credit Bff.

Many of us have seen the adverts trying to convince us that there are ‘good bacteria’ that we should be making the most of in yogurty, pro-biotic drinks to help keep our guts healthy. Now it turns out that plants like maize are already one step ahead of us – not only making the most of beneficial soil (or rhizo-) bacteria, but having also learnt to draw the good bacteria towards their root system. Once they’ve done that, the plants just sit back, relax, and let the hardworking bacteria do all the work for them.

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Update: Plant Health News (25 Apr 12)

Coconuts by Joyonweb

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the development of a new scab-resistant apple, how temperature and rainfall affect crop pest and disease interactions, and the Tanzanian research hoping to combat coconut troubles.

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Update: Plant Health News (13 Apr 2012)

USDA citrus disease app ©FreshPlaza.com

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the launch of the USDA’s ‘Save Our Citrus’ app, how disease-resistant bananas have proven to be a success in Jamaica, and a video of aphids reacting to a pheromone alarm.

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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.

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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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Update: Plant Health News (13 Mar 12)

©FreshPlaza.com

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including some good news for growers in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, how scientists have finally caught gene-thieving fungi, and a quick ‘pecan’ to the future of weevil control.

 

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Vector control goes viral

Bird cherry-oat aphid, a significant vector of barley yellow dwarf virus in wheat. Credit: David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

Whether it’s measles, mumps or just the common cold, we’ve all suffered from a virus at some point, and so do crops. While we might try to avoid the person coughing and sneezing in the corner, the problem with many viruses (both human and plant) is that those carrying the disease are not always obvious. Attaching a large, neon sign to an infected human would probably be considered slightly unethical, but pointing out the most virulent plant disease carriers is exactly what new research will enable scientists to do to vectors like aphids and whiteflies.

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Puddles of pests: why the weather really matters

Weather – an integral part of
farming ©Paul Dickson

While folklore has worked well for many farmers over the years, watching out for red skies or the wind changing direction isn’t always convenient, and a little more notice of hurricanes and tropical storms is usually appreciated. With recent stories of rain beating down on mangoes in Mexico, hail wreaking havoc on tobacco in Zimbabwe and droughts leaving crops more than a little thirsty in Cameroon, it seemed like good timing for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to announce its new development plans. Promising not only accurate predictions, but also free and easy access to more information than ever before, this latest advance is expected to go some way towards improving food security, particularly in developing countries.

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