Bridging the Agricultural Extension gap through Plant Health Rallies in Uganda

Article published in the Agribusiness Digest, UgandaUG_Plantwise bridging agric extension through PHRs

Water weed removed with surgical precision

Blog written by PT Bandara, CABI Associate, and WMDH Kulatunga, Sri Lanka.

Proliferation of Salvinia molesta in tank No.4 in March 2014.

Proliferation of Salvinia molesta in tank No.4 in March 2014. Images: Thushari Weerakoon, Moragahakanda Kaluganga Development Project.

“A looming threat imposed by Salvinia molesta was averted through the introduction of a biocontrol agent by technical experts of the Department of Agriculture.” These were the words of Project Director Engineer RB Tennakoon, of the Moragahakanda Kaluganga Development Project, Sri Lanka; a project with the key objective to improve the availability of irrigation to water-scarce farmlands and thereby increase crop production and productivity in the area surrounding Kaluganga and Moragahakanda reservoirs, as well as supplying domestic water to Anuradhapura, Trincomalee and Matale districts.

Salvinia molesta recently replaced Rinderpest virus on the list of “100 of the world’s worst invasive alien species” in a global survey conducted in 2013 where over 650 invasion biologists participated. It is a water fern which forms dense mats over water reservoirs and slow moving rivers, causing large economic losses and a wide range of ecological problems to the environment, native species and communities. It can clog water intakes and interfere with agricultural irrigation water supply and hydropower generation.

One of the water tanks at Kaluganga was completely covered with Salvinia in March 2014 and there was a huge possibility of spread of Salvinia throughout the irrigation system of Kaluganga Project. The case was referred to the Plant Protection Service of the Department of Agriculture. Within ten months the tank was clear of Salvinia, without the use of any mechanical tools or chemicals but using a control method perfectly compatible with nature. What made this possible?

It is due to a tiny weevil Cyrtobagous salviniae used as a biocontrol agent. Larvae of  C. salviniae tunnel within the rhizomes/stem causing them to disintegrate. Larvae also tunnel in the buds and adults eat buds, thus suppressing growth and vegetative propagation of this sterile weed. Technical experts from the Plant Protection Service of the DoA, who are responsible for rearing this weevil  provided a culture of the biocontrol agent and introduced them into the infested water bodies.

The elimination of this troublesome weed led to the jubilation of the Project Director. Mr Tennakoon acknowledged the support given by Mr PT Bandara, Deputy Director Plant Protection Service at the time of this project, and his team in removing this highly invasive water weed and thus eliminating a huge threat that would have jeopardized the Moragahakanda Kaluganga Project.

Find out more about management of this weed by searching “Salvinia molesta” on the Plantwise knowledge bank, including factsheets from the DoA, Sri Lanka in Sinhala and Tamil.

The case was referred to the Plant Protection Service. Mr WMPT Bandara and other technical experts visited the tank and released specific biological control agent on 14 March 2014.

The case was referred to the Plant Protection Service. Mr WMPT Bandara and other technical experts visited the tank and released specific biological control agent on 14 March 2014. Images: Thushari Weerakoon, Moragahakanda Kaluganga Development Project.

By June 2015 the tank becomes clear and the control method is a success

By June 2015 the tank becomes clear and the control method is a success. Images: Thushari Weerakoon, Moragahakanda Kaluganga Development Project.

Increased carbon dioxide levels in air restrict plants’ ability to absorb nutrients

1.Pollution over fields- could now be a threat to plant nutrition    (Photo by Ken Douglas )

1. Pollution over fields- could now be a threat to plant nutrition (Photo by Ken Douglas)

Contributed by Fiona Bunn

A recent study from the University of Gothenburg has shown that plants that are grown in air with a higher percentage of carbon dioxide (CO2) have reduced levels of nitrogen in their tissue, causing increased nitrogen deficiency and reduced growth. The study was conducted across four continents in large scale projects, and the plants showed the negative effects in all three major types of ecosystem: crops, grasslands and forests. The effects were even shown when fertiliser was applied, proving that CO2 restricts the plants’ ability to absorb the necessary nutrients, not the levels in the soil.  Read more of this post

Old friends and new faces at CPM10

Blog  Commission on Phytosanitary Measurespost by Roger Day, Deputy Regional Director (Development), CABI Africa.
As delegates gathered for the opening of the 10th session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) at FAO in Rome, it was clear from the greetings and smiles, not to mention hugs and kisses, that many of them know each other well already. That’s probably a good thing.  The International Plant Protection Convention aims to secure “common and effective action to prevent the spread and introduction of pests of plants and plant products”, and good collaboration is based on mutual trust and understanding. Read more of this post

Perú: Dos nuevas clínicas de plantas para los agricultores Lambayecanos

Proporcionando servicio de diagnósticos y recomendaciones  a los agricultores a las clínicas de plantas en Solecape (Martha Passador, CABI)

Proporcionando servicio de diagnósticos y recomendaciones a los agricultores a las clínicas de plantas en Solecape (Martha Passador, CABI)

Autores: Martha Passador (CABI) y Juan Pablo Gonzáles (EEA Vista Florida)

English summary follows

Debido a las necesidades de asistencia en algunos puntos más lejanos de la región de Lambayeque en Perú, y  mediante dos nuevos módulos de asistencia técnica, en el cual las Clínicas de Plantas forman parte del componente de diagnóstico y recomendación a los problemas identificados, implementados por el Instituto Nacional de Innovación Agraria – INIA. La institución busca brindar el servicio y beneficiar de manera directa a más de 200 agricultores lambayecanos en el diagnóstico oportuno de plagas y enfermedades  con el objetivo de reducir las pérdidas ocasionadas por el ataque de estas.

Las dos nuevas atenciones en las “Clínicas de Plantas” se encuentran ubicadas en los sectores de Solecape y Puente Tuñoque en Muy Finca, distrito de Mochumí. En ellas, los agricultores, podrán acercarse a realizar sus consultas sobre plagas y enfermedades sin costo alguno.

Agricultores de Solecape con doctores de plantas, especialistas del INIA y el equipo CABI (Martha Passador y Javier Franco) (Foto: Juan Pablo Gonzáles Delgado)

Agricultores de Solecape con doctores de plantas, especialistas del INIA y el equipo CABI (Martha Passador y Javier Franco) (Foto: Juan Pablo Gonzáles Delgado, EEA Vista Florida)

La metodología de trabajo de estas clínicas de plantas o módulos de asistencia técnica, permite brindar un espacio donde el agricultor pueda recurrir frente a la necesidad de asesoría y que la reciba de manera oportuna. Para ello estas clínicas atenderán de manera periódica.

La Ing. Patricia Villegas, Coordinadora de la Unidad de Extensión Agraria de la EEA “Vista Florida” – Lambayeque, indica que la metodología de atención en estas clínicas de plantas, es similar a las jornadas de atención médica. El agricultor sólo necesita acercarse con una muestra de su planta atacada por alguna plaga o enfermedad y el “Doctor de Plantas” le brindará la asesoría necesaria para tratar su problema fitosanitario, además de brindarle las recomendaciones necesarias para prevenir futuros ataques de la plaga. Esto no le demandará al agricultor más de media hora, con lo cual puede acudir a la clínica de plantas y luego volver a sus labores cotidianas, indicó la Ing. Villegas.

Las primeras reuniones para implementación de las atenciones de las clínicas de plantas en estos dos lugares se realizaron en los días 2 (Solecape) y 3 (Puente Tuñoque) de Diciembre del 2014. Las atenciones de estas clínica cuentan con dos ingenieros especialistas, que ofrecieron, en esta primera reunión,  explicaciones y demostraciones para utilización del Trichogramma sp. para el control de plagas lepidópteras en algodón.

Explicación y simulación de una atención de clínica de plantas a los agricultores en Puente Tuñoque (Foto: Martha Passador, CABI)

Explicación y simulación de una atención de clínica de plantas a los agricultores en Puente Tuñoque (Foto: Martha Passador, CABI)

Después que Patricia Villegas presentó a los agricultores los objetivos de la clínica de plantas, fue realizado un simulacro de una atención en clínica de plantas. En los dos sitios hubo una respuesta positiva por parte de los productores, los cuales esperan ansiosamente el inicio de las actividades de la clínica de plantas.

Además de dos especialistas en plagas del algodonero y representantes de la asociación de los productores locales, estuvieron apoyando al equipo del INIA, dos integrantes del programa Plantwise de CABI,  la Dra. Martha Passador y el Dr. Javier Franco.

Cabe mencionar que estos módulos han sido instalados gracias al trabajo del INIA y los Coordinadores Nacionales Luis Torres (EEA-La Molina) y Luis Navarrete (EEA-La Molina), junto al Programa Plantwise, el cual se ejecuta a nivel mundial y tiene presencia en 33 países y hasta la fecha ha implementado más de 720 clínicas de plantas brindando un servicio directo a los agricultores.

Agricultores de Solecape con doctores de plantas, especialistas del INIA y el equipo de CABI )Martha Passador y Javier Franco) (Foto: Juan Pablo Gonzáles Delgado)

Agricultores de Solecape con doctores de plantas, especialistas del INIA y el equipo de CABI )Martha Passador y Javier Franco) (Foto: Juan Pablo Gonzáles Delgado)

El programa tiene como objetivo mejorar la seguridad alimentaria mediante la reducción de las pérdidas de cultivos a través del apoyo a los agricultores con los módulos de atención- clínica para plantas y un banco de conocimientos global sobre plagas y enfermedades de los cultivos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In December 2014, due to an increase need for agricultural assistance in some of the furthest parts of the Lambayeque region in Peru, INIA (Instituto Nacional de Innovación Agraria), assisted by Plantwise staff, implemented two new plant clinics in Solecape and Puente Tuñoque (Muy Finca, Mochumí district). Through those new clinics, INIA aims to provide a diagnostic and recommendation service to more than 200 farmers with the objective of reducing crop losses caused by pests and diseases. As part of the service provided by the plant clinics, during the first session, two cotton specialists demonstrated the use of parasitic wasps (Trichogramma sp.) to control lepidopteran pests in cotton fields. In both locations, positive feedback has been received from producers, who are looking forward to the beginning of the plant clinic activities.

Roundtable brings high-tech farming ideas to India’s risk-prone ecologies

David J. Spielman joined the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in 2004, and is currently a senior research fellow based in Washington, DC. His research agenda covers a range of topics including agricultural science, technology and innovation policy; seed systems and input markets; and community-driven rural development. His work maintains a regional emphasis on East Africa and South Asia.

This post is re-blogged from the IFPRI blog.

Rice field in Bihar, India

Rice field in Bihar, India. Credit: Jim (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)

Imagine agriculture in India as a high-tech, highly mechanized venture. Picture a rice farmer taking soil samples with a handheld meter to gauge nutrient and moisture needs, calibrating planting along plot contours with GPS-guided tools, placing rice in precise rows using a mechanical transplanter, and doing this with the backing of reliable, customized financing. Now picture this farmer as a woman—because most of the men in her village have migrated to the cities in search of better opportunities.

It sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? It certainly doesn’t correspond with our image of poor rice farmers toiling in knee-deep water under the hot sun and monsoon rains, prey to the local moneylender.

But this future is nearer than we realize, and it was the focus of a roundtable on “Sustainable Intensification in South Asia’s Cereal Systems: Investment Strategies for Productivity Growth, Resource Conservation, and Climate Risk Management” held on May 19 in New Delhi. Read more of this post

New technology for detecting pests and diseases

by Keron Bascombe, Technology4Agri

IPM Scope for identifying diseases

IPM Scope – a new technology to aid identification of plant diseases © Spectrum Technologies

Much of farm enterprise activity is spent dealing with pests and diseases which significantly lower the yield of produce. For many producers this warrants the use of pesticides of many kinds to deter a wide variety of pests and insects that can either destroy crops or act as vectors that cause disease. Excess use of pesticides can not only harm the plant and its soil (or soil medium) but it is potentially harmful to those labourers applying the chemical and in the long run to those consuming the crop.

In this regard, early detection of pests and disease is paramount when operating a medium to large scale agri enterprise, as pesticide application can be minimised if pests are found before they get out of control. There are numerous technologies, ranging from simple applications to complex innovations, that can be used to identify harmful insects and the like. Currently, some of the more high-tech tools are quite expensive, especially for farmers in developing countries. However, as demand and use increases in countries such as the United States, these tools will become more accessible worldwide. Read more of this post

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