Clustering to make a difference

Claire Beverley from the Plantwise knowledge bank has been visiting Kenya, find out what she has been up to in her latest blog post!


Holding the banner for a new plant health clinic,
Credit: Claire Beverley ©CABI

I imagine there are few sights as breath-taking as the Rift Valley, so on Thursday I was pleased that we stopped for a few minutes on our way to Nakuru. I’m certain I joined the many tourists before me who have stopped at the same vantage point to take a photo or two, but, I’m not in Kenya to be a tourist. Instead my remit is to talk to plant health clinic doctors, based in various locations, about the challenges they face and the development of the Plantwise initiative. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing over the past week, making for a very productive and interesting introduction to Kenya.

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Getting Older Quicker: Wheat’s New Ageing Problem

Wheat: Getting old before its time. Source: Markusram, Flickr

Many of us dislike getting older, but you can usually predict how it will go: next year you expect to be 1 year older and you expect your body to be 1 year older. But what if instead of continually growing over a year, your body instead decided to grow for 6 months and then stop altogether until next year? Well, I’m sure that we’d all be rejoicing in the streets.

However, farmers are soon to be facing this very possibility and are starting to worry about it. But, it’s not their own bodies that they’re worried about, instead it’s that of their wheat yields. They’re predicted to stop growing earlier, because they’re actually ageing too quickly…

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Leaf miner becomes vine connoisseur

©Fabio Ingrosso

Leaf miners have an eclectic palate between them, enjoying everything from sweet potatoes to coconuts and cashews. It appears that at some point they decided that something was missing – perhaps a fine wine to wash it all down?

After intensive studying of diet, morphology and DNA barcoding, it has been revealed that a mystery moth that appeared in Italian vineyards in 2006 is not the Antispila ampelopsifoliella that it was suspected to be, but instead A. oinophylla, a grapevine leaf miner.

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Shouting out about plant clinics

Farmers bring their diseased crops to a plant clinic for diagnosis and treatment advice © Sven Torfinn / Panos Pictures

Plantwise works with in-country agencies to set up plant clinics, which farmers can attend with a sample of their affected crops to obtain a diagnosis and treatment advice. Plant clinics are often run in larger towns or villages, and farmers can travel many miles to talk to a plant doctor to solve their crop problems. So how do farmers find out about where and when the next clinic is running? I asked co-ordinators of plant clinics in Sierra Leone, Uganda and India about how clinics in their countries are advertised to farmers. Continue reading

Update: New Pest & Disease Records (21 Feb 12)

© Howard Walfish, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

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 a new, unnamed virus infecting tomatoes and Euphorbia species in Venezuela; first reports of watermelon viruses in Palestine and Serbia; and a phytoplasma that infects prickly pear being found in its weed, bug and mollusc pests.

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Update: Plant Health News (16 Feb 12)


Here’s a taste of some of the latest plant health news stories, including plants that resist pests by telling the time, the fly that’s endangering German fruit crops, and why less snow has led to more yellow-cedar trees freezing this year.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!



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