Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the use of technology to improve the detection of papaya viruses, toxins discovered in banana root tissue kill root pests and the vital importance of water conservation in Nigeria to avoid food crises.
Click on the links to read more of the latest plant health news!
Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record tore through the Philippines on 8th November. With a confirmed death toll of 4,460, 4 million people displaced and 13 million people affected, the typhoon has undoubtedly caused widespread destruction and devastation. The destruction to the country’s agricultural sectors is becoming increasingly evident. An estimated 153,495 ha of crops have been damaged causing losses of $225 million and the livelihoods of over 1 million farmers adversely affected.
A recent study carried out in Costa Rica found that insectivorous birds such as the Yellow Warbler help to reduce infestations of the Coffee Berry Borer Beetle on coffee plantations by 50%. This free pest control service is estimated to save a medium sized coffee farm up to $9,400 per year. The study carried out by biologists from Stanford University could provide incentive for biodiversity conservation and enhancement of ecosystem services and also offer hope to coffee farmers devastated by the beetle.
We’ve selected a few of the latest stories about plant health. Records this week include the identification of plants’ natural defense mechanisms against pests, the first report of tomato yellow spot virus in Brazil and recordings of foliar necrosis of potato in India.
Article by Shamela Rambadan, CABI Country Coordinator.
In Trinidad and Tobago many Plantwise plant clinics have been implemented to provide free information and advice to smallholder farmers. To date there are 8 plant clinics in Trinidad and 2 are planned for Tobago. CABI Plantwise is partnered with the Ministry of Food Production with extension workers from the Ministry and the Department of Agriculture in Tobago trained by CABI to become plant doctors at local plant clinics. The plant doctors diagnose plant pest and diseases and provide recommendations as to the control. For plant samples that require further identification they are sent to the diagnostic facility at the Ministry of Food Production in Trinidad.
The plant clinic at St George West County Extension Office in Trinidad and Tobago recently received Merleen, a householder in desperate need to control the slug population on her prized Anthuriums. Merleen came to the clinic to seek advice to resolve the pest problem without the use of harsh chemicals. She noted that many of her Anthuriums died once the slugs started feeding on the leaves and has subsequently lost 24 out of 50 plants since the onset of the slug battle in September 2012. Merleen explained that in an attempt to control the slug population she would go out into her garden late at night armed with a flashlight to identify the slugs and table salt which she applied directly onto the slugs in order to destroy them. Despite a small reduction in population, the slugs kept coming back night after night. Continue reading →
The distribution of plant pests and pathogens has been observed to be moving away from the equator towards the North and South poles and inhabit areas previously too cold for their existence. This threatens to increase the percentage of crops lost annually to pests and pathogens and subsequently raises major concerns over global food security.
A new study published in Nature Climate Change revealed distributions of plant pests and pathogens are advancing polewards at an average rate of 2.7 km (1.7 miles) per year. The current shift in the range of plant pests and pathogens will increase the percentage of crops lost every year. This is expected to increase as temperatures continue to rise. Dr Dan Bebber and his co-authors from the University of Exeter warned that “If crop pests continue to march polewards as the Earth warms the combined effects of a growing world population and the increased loss of crops to pests will pose a serious threat to global food security”.