A new AI-powered app scans banana crops for early signs of disease

By Emma Bryce. Reblogged from Anthropocene.

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The banana is the world’s most popular fruit: we consume 100 billion of them a year. And yet, their future is threatened by a spate of diseases that are ravaging crops worldwide. Now, researchers have developed a tool to tackle these silent killers: an artificially-intelligent smartphone app that can scan banana plants for early signs of infection, and alert farmers before it takes hold on their crops.

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Homemade botanical remedies: can they really work for pest control?

By Rebecca Quarterman

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A recent study by CABI scientists looked at 12 botanicals

For many low-income farmers, commercial pesticides are too costly to use. Seemingly, the next best option for many is to turn to homemade botanical insecticides using local sources. But how reliable are these resources, and are they safe to recommend?

A CABI-authored paper published in Agronomy for Sustainable Development reviews the efficacy of some of the most commonly used homemade botanicals in controlling insect pests. This paper specifically focuses on previous studies that tested homemade preparations under “realistic local field or storage conditions”, as there has been no previous in-depth review on this particular topic.

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CABI programmes showcased at International Conference on Plant Protection in Horticulture

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CABI were a sponsor with Dr Claire Beverley a guest of honour at ICPPH 2019. Photo ©CABI

CABI programmes, Plantwise and Action on Invasives, have showcased their expertise in plant protection and improving rural livelihoods to a global audience of agriculture experts and scientists at the recent International Conference on Plant Protection in Horticulture held at ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bengaluru.

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Crop-devastating pests in Rwanda to be targeted with space-age technology from PRISE programme

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Pests, which threaten to destroy key cash and food security crops including maize, tomato and beans, are to be prioritized as part of an integrated pest management strategy using state-of-the-art space-age technology.

Scores of smallholder farmers in Rwanda are the latest to benefit from the CABI-led consortium, funded by the UK Space Agency and the Global Challenges Research Fund with co-funding from the CABI-led Plantwise, that is using a combination of earth observation technology, satellite positioning and plant-pest lifecycle modelling to provide an evidence-based Pest Risk Information Service (PRISE).

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COSMIC: Workshop to develop locust management tools in China

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Grasshoppers are one of the leading insect pests affecting the agriculture industry across Inner Mongolia and the whole of China (© CABI)

Grassland habitats play an important ecological and economic role in Inner Mongolia, China. The primary threats to this ecosystem are grasshoppers and locusts, which are major pest insects across China. There are currently a range of monitoring and management strategies in place to control and reduce the damage caused by these pest species. However, successful reduction of these insect populations within the grassland habitats remains a national and regional challenge. Early identification of these pest species has been found to enable a more significant change of controlling the problem, with recent advances in technology opening several opportunities for developing this.

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Aerobotics: Supporting precision agriculture across Africa

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Aerobotics are one of a number of companies incorporating the use of unmanned drones to promote crop pest and disease management (© Pexels)

Aerobotics, a Cape Town-based agritech startup company has recently partnered with the South African Federation of Agricultural Organisations (AgriSA) to launch a free data service for farmers using a range of spectral imaging technology.

As a company, Aerobotics specialises in farm monitoring processes using a number of modern spectral imaging technologies, including satellite and drone aerial imaging as well as incorporating AI technology to target crop pest and disease management.

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CABI collaborates on new research which suggests crop pests more widespread than previously known

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Insects and diseases that damage crops are probably present in many places thought to be free of them, new research shows.

Pests that have not been reported in a certain area are usually assumed to be absent, but analysis by the University of Exeter shows many pests are “currently unobserved, but probably present” (a likelihood of more than 75%).

The study identified large numbers of pests in this category in China, India, southern Brazil and some countries of the former USSR.

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