TerraSentia: The Automated Crop Monitoring Robot

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TerraSentia robot to aid crop breeding processes (© The Silicon Review)

A team of researchers from the University of Illinois have developed a completely automated robot capable of monitoring crops in the field during growth periods with the aim of aiding crop breeders in the extensive task of developing and comparing plant cultivars.

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Does gender affect how farmers use rural advisory services?

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In an article recently published in The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension, CABI authors set out to discover more about gender differences in access to rural agricultural information. The research was undertaken in Pakistan and found major gender differences regarding use and preference of agricultural information in relation age and literacy.

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From Satellites to Stem Borers: Using Earth Observation to Forecast Pest Outbreaks

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Globally, over 500 million smallholder farmers provide food for two thirds of the world’s population. With 40% of crops lost annually to pests, achieving zero hunger by 2030 depends on increasing the productivity of these smallholders.

We already have weather forecasts, pollen forecasts and UV forecasts, but what if farmers had access to pest forecasts?

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Fall Armyworm: A new collaboration to disseminate best management practices to farmers

From the 13th to the 15th of November 2017, USAID and CIMMYT held a Regional Training and Awareness Generation Workshop on Fall Armyworm Pest Management for Eastern Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Participants from 11 countries attended the workshop to discuss short, medium and long term strategies to control Fall Armyworm in Africa. Following its accidental introduction into West Africa, the pest has spread quickly to the whole continent. The current and predicted yield loss to maize from FAW over the 2017-2018 season in Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to reach US$ 3 billion.

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Fall armyworm caterpillar from ICIPE rearing facilities (Photo credit: Thomas Wallace, Africa Lead)

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Integrated crop management Masters course yields success

Integrated crop management Masters course yields success

A graduation ceremony held on 17 November 2017 in Engelberg, Switzerland, celebrated the successful completion of the 2017 Masters of Advanced Studies in Integrated Crop Management (MAS in ICM) programme by a number of international students.

Coordinated by CABI and the University of Neuchâtel, the MAS in ICM programme provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the principles of good crop management, with an emphasis on productivity and environmental sustainability.

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At loggerheads over agroforestry

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Photo: pxhere

Everyone knows forests are home to a wealth of biodiversity, with the Amazon alone hosting a quarter of global biodiversity. It is also now well established that diversity in crop production increases a farmer’s resilience to environmental stresses and shocks – from extreme weather to pests.

In terms of ending poverty, food insecurity and environmental degradation, agroforestry was positioned today at CFS44 as playing a crucial role in helping many countries meet key national development objectives epitomised under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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PRISE: speaking to the end user – pest alerts for plant doctors in Africa

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Brian Siame shows plant health conversations between plant doctors in the Zambia Telegram group (Photo: David Onyango, CABI)

After 2 hours drive, we arrive in Rufunsa District located approximately 150 kilometres east of the Zambian Capital, Lusaka. After exchanging pleasantries we settle down with Brian Siame, a trained plant doctor and one of the participants in our survey to find out more about plant doctor requirements for pest alert messages.

After a brief explanation of how PRISE will work, Brian was taken through the survey and its relevance to his role. “The pest forecast messages will be sent to plant doctors like you so that you can provide farmers with timely advice and help them manage local pest outbreaks,” explained Abigail Rumsey from CABI. “The alerts will take the form of short text messages, advising on predicted pest life stage and risk level, with the possibility of including the pest image to help ease identification and diagnosis”.

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