A plant doctor’s fight against rice blast in Tamil Nadu, India

Story by Malvika Chaudhary, CABI in India

Photo: Saurav Paul

DSC_4249Vargur is a small village in the Tamil Nadu state of India where paddy is grown on a large scale. The plant clinics in this region are very popular with farmers. For plant doctor Sarangpani it was a usual day, anticipating the regular crowd of paddy farmers in his plant clinic. He enjoyed this interaction with them, especially after improving his pest diagnostic and advisory skills through training provided by Plantwise and research non-profit M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF).  His rich experience as a farmer in the past had now translated into service for his community through these regular plant clinics.

Though ‘samba,’ or long grain rice season was usually quiet, this time Balchander and many farmers like him had a different story. The farmers had been seeing white spots on the young leaves of their paddy plant, which began to turn to grey-green in couple of days, bringing them increasing worry. It was time for plant doctors like Sarangpani to take immediate action to try and help Balchander and his neighboring paddy farmers.

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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (11 Jun 14)

Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense tropical race 4, associated with Panama wilt, has been identified outside Southeast Asia © Scot Nelson (CC BY-SA)

Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense TR4, has been identified outside Southeast Asia © Scot Nelson (CC BY-SA)

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include Phytophthora cinnamomi in the rhizosphere of agricultural crops in southern Bahia (Brazil),  the first report of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense tropical race 4 associated with Panama disease of banana outside Southeast Asia and the first report of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ associated with Huanglongbing on Persian lime in Martinique and Guadeloupe.

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Update: Plant Health News (04 Jun 14)

Scientists have identified a gene that encodes resistance to Phytophthora capsici, a fungus-like pathogen spreading root rot disease in peppers © Gerald Holmes (CC BY-NC).

Scientists have identified a gene that encodes resistance to the fungus like-pathogen causing root rot disease in peppers © Gerald Holmes (CC BY-NC).

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the discovery of a microbe that could help control rice blast, concern over the effects of erratic rainfall on crops in Somalia and the discovery of a gene encoding resistance to stem and fruit rot of pepper.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Update: Plant Health News (23 Apr 14)

The proportion of coffee producing areas used to cultivate shade-grown coffee has reduced by almost 20% in as many years (Fernando Rebelo, GFDL)

The proportion of coffee producing areas used to cultivate shade-grown coffee is decreasing (Fernando Rebelo, GFDL)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the postharvest pathology of beans, a reduction in the proportion of shade grown coffee and the filamentous fungus that may be effective at controlling sugarcane nematodes.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Update: Plant Health News (04 Dec 13)

A new strain of the destructive banana wilt disease is spreading in Africa © IITA (CC BY-NC)

A new strain of the destructive banana wilt disease has been found in Africa © IITA (CC BY-NC)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including a new banana disease identified in Africa, ways to deal with oil seed rape pests after the neonicotinoid restrictions and the role of agricultural cooperatives and storage in rural Ethiopia.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Update: Plant Health News (06 Nov 13)

Bangladesh has started harvesting a bumper production from new stress tolerant rice varieties © IRRI (CC BY-NC-SA)

Bangladesh is harvesting a bumper production from stress tolerant rice varieties © IRRI (CC BY-NC-SA)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including a bumper harvest for Bangladesh from stress tolerant rice varieties, news that plant production could decline as climate change affects soil nutrients, and Autralia’s Minister for the Environment launches a new sustainability app for farmers.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Update: Plant Health News (23 Oct 13)

New survey reveals role of botanical gardens in achieving food security © Craig Elliott (CC BY-NC-ND)

New survey reveals role of botanical gardens in achieving food security © Craig Elliott (CC BY-NC-ND)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the role of botanic gardens in food security,  how grazers and pollinators shape plant evolution and a new soil testing kit designed for smallholder farmers.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Update: Plant Health News (09 Oct 13)

Crop diversification is common amoung farmers wishing to lessen their dependence on one crop © CGIAR Climate (CC BY-NC-SA)

Crop diversification lessens farmers’ dependence on one crop © CGIAR Climate (CC BY-NC-SA)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including a new rice variety to cushion farmers against crop loss through blast, a checklist of scale insect pests in Iran and Asian citrus growers looking to diversity their crop with bananas.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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How plant clinics are helping farmers in Puducherry, India

Plant clinic in Pondicherry, India

Plant doctors inspect a diseased rice sample at a plant clinic in Pondicherry, India. Photo: Sanjit Das/Panos

Plantwise plant clinics are currently operating in 31 countries in Asia, Africa and Central & Latin America. Thousands of farmers come to these clinics for advice on managing their crops, particularly crops that are being affected by pests or disease. The video below gives the story of a farmer in Puducherry, India, who got advice on how to manage the rice in her paddy field that had turned yellow during a cyclone.

For information on plant diseases in India, visit the Plantwise Knowledge Bank.

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Helping to Secure Crop Yields Globally with Land Drainage

by Tim Sissons of William Morfoot land drainage, experts based in the East of England.

Water drainage on farmland

© William Morfoot

Along with a combination of other factors, agriculture, and therefore food production depend on the proper management of water to enable crops to develop properly and yields to be healthy.

Globally, ecosystems and environments vary greatly and even the most experienced crop producers can see a drop in yields when dealt a particularly nasty deal by Mother Nature.

To provide them with sustainable agricultural development and to help secure their harvest, farmers often rely on land drainage systems to help them cope with a deluge of rain or even a lack of it.

Although it may seem like an odd statement, a sustainable land drainage system is as important in areas of low rainfall as it is in those where rainfall is high. In the first instance a correctly installed land drainage system can help to minimise soil salinisation and in the second it is necessary to prevent the water logging of soils which can lead to a whole host of difficulties.

In 2002, the FAO estimated that salinity had damaged about 20 to 30 million hectares of irrigated land, resulting in loss of crops for a number of those working in the agricultural industry globally – upsetting food security. A build-up of saline happens more regularly on irrigated land due to the addition of salts in irrigation water where natural drainage is insufficient.

Land drainage is also pivotal for securing the quality of soils, as waterlogging prevents crops accessing the vital nutrients needed to grow to their full potential.

So how is land drainage relevant across the world? And how do different ecosystems use land drainage systems to their advantage? Read more of this post

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