The devastating tsunami that hit northeastern parts of Japan last March left thousands of acres of farmland damaged by saltwater. Much of this agricultural land was paddy fields, which were left with up to 25 cm of sand and mud deposited and highly saline conditions resulting from evaporation of the seawater.
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 the most devastating coffee pest, the coffee berry borer, being found in Hawaii; a new fungal disease of citrus plants in the Philippines; and insects causing damage to amaranth crops in Mexico.
Agriculture is very important to India, employing 55% of its population and providing 16.5% of its annual GDP. The industry as a whole is worth US$ 17.5 million alone in exports. However, it’s not all plain sailing, with low productivity and regional groundwater depletion currently threatening Indian agriculture. Climate change and the demands of an ever-increasing population are also emerging as challenges that the country will soon have to adapt to.
Rice is one of the most grown crops within Indian agriculture. However, it has low productivity levels, with scientific literature suggesting that it’s as low as 2.9 tons of rice produced for every hectare of land used (ton/ha). China, on the other hand, has a higher productivity of 6.2 ton/ha. This higher productivity means that China is able to produce more rice per year than India, using less land (between 2000-2004).
A new study by Chernin et al. has found that volatile organic compounds produced by certain Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR) can disrupt bacterial cell-cell communication (quorum sensing) in a number of plant pathogens including Agrobacterium, Chromobacterium, Pectobacterium and Pseudomonas. Application of PGPRs could in future be used as a new disease management strategy.
Bats are perhaps one of the best kept secrets of agricultural success. As nocturnal fliers they are often ‘out of sight, out of mind’, but insectivorous bats (Chiroptera) provide us with a natural, eco-friendly, and free pest control solution, saving North America alone an estimated $3.7 billion every year. Good news then? Not so much for bats. Habitat loss and fragmentation, land-use change and disease (to name just a few) are all putting bat populations under pressure, and many are reaching breaking point.