How to improve rice yield using the System of Rice Intensification (SRI)

This video shows how farmers in East and Southern Africa have been benefiting from increased rice yield after implementing SRI management practices. By following some simple principles in how to transplant the rice seedlings, maintain soil health, carefully irrigate, and manage weeds and nutrients, farmers can now produce a lot more rice than they used to using traditional methods. Continue reading

Update: Plant Health News (29 Aug 12)

Soybean cyst nematode and egg

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including lack of rain leading to crop losses in India and Guatemala,  discovery of how cyst nematodes attack plants, and increased effort to stop the spread of maize lethal necrosis in Kenya.

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

Epigenetics – a new dimension to understanding plant disease

Coast live oak showing sudden oak death symptoms (Credit: Joseph O’Brien, USDA Forest Service,

The history of diseases that have affected a plant can determine the ability of its progeny to cope with similar diseases. Studies have revealed that, in many cases, progeny of a plant that was diseased develops tolerance to similar stresses in just a few generations, far too quick to be explained by chance mutations. It is here that scientists believe epigenetic mechanisms play a role. Continue reading

Sweet potato improving Vitamin A status in Uganda

Orange fleshed sweet potatoes are aiding the battle against vitamin A deficiency © Llez (CC BY-SA 3.0)

A variety of sweet potato has been shown to decrease childhood blindness, when eaten regularly. The variety, called Orange Sweet Potato (OSP), provides higher levels of β- Carotene (the precursor the body uses to produce Vitamin A) than its white and yellow counterparts. Continue reading

Update: New Pest & Disease Records (22 Aug 12)

The Sauternes vineyards are under threat from the crop pest Drosophila suzukii © Fir0002/Flagstaffotos (CC-BY-NC)

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 novel maize-infecting mastrevirus from the French island Réunion, a new report of leaf blight on eucalyptus caused by Pestalotiopsis virgatula in Thailand and the first occurrence of Drosophila suzukii in the Sauternes vineyards.

Continue reading

MaryLucy’s diary – training plant doctors in Kenya

Yesterday, Mrs Rael Taiy, the District Agricultural Officer for Trans Nzoia East, told us that her and the extension team are very happy about the plant clinics as the initiative greatly complements their extension work. Farmers present their ‘sick’ plants and they are given solutions immediately by the plant doctors. This reduces pest incidence and severity thereby improving food security and income generation.

Update: Plant Health News (15 Aug 12)

Scientists are helping growers of diseased pomegranates. Credit: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos (CC-BY-NC license)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including banana and cassava diseases becoming more prevalent in parts of DR Congo, pomegranate growers in India getting help with managing bacterial blight, and flooding in Costa Rica affecting crops.

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