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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Farmers in Malawi to benefit from space-age technology in fight against devastating crop pests

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Farmers await for plant health advice at a plant clinic in Lilongwe, Malawi

Farmers in Malawi are the latest to benefit from a CABI-led consortium, funded by the UK Space Agency, which is providing a Pest Risk Information Service (PRISE) to fight pest outbreaks that could devastate crops and livelihoods across the country.

The service, which uses state-of-the-art technology to help inform farmers in sub-Saharan Africa – including Zambia, Ghana and Kenya where it is currently operating – gives farmers invaluable information to help them manage pests such as the fall armyworm that is already having a major impact in Africa and South East Asia.

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World Food Prize winner’s vision sown in CABI-led Plantwise programme in Myanmar

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World Food Prize Laureate for 2019 Simon N. Groot, founder of East-West Seed, helped train CABI Plantwise plant doctors in Myanmar so farmers can grow more and lose less to pests and diseases (Photo: World Food Prize).

Simon N. Groot, the Dutch founder of East-West Seed, has won the World Food Prize 2019 for empowering millions of smallholder farmers in more than 60 countries earn greater incomes through enhanced vegetable production.

This includes his company – under the East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer (EWS-KT) – working with the CABI-led Plantwise programme to train Myanmar’s first group of plant doctors who are helping farmers reduce their losses by diagnosing problems with their crops. East-West Seed also provided their expertise to CABI through a number of external factsheets provided for the Plantwise Knowledge Bank.

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CABI collaborates on innovative approach to tackling pesticide resistance evolution

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Southern armyworm (Spodoptera eridania) – a pest which is prevalent in Brazil ©Lyle J. Buss/University of Florida

CABI is joining an international team of scientists, led by the University of Stirling, to take a ‘revolutionary approach’ in attempting to tackle resistance to pesticides in insects with a specific focus on crops pests in Brazil.

The £620,000 study will see UK-based Dr Belinda Luke working on the mass production of fungal biopesticides and formulation development from CABI’s laboratories in Egham, Surrey, while Dr Yelitza Colmenarez, and Natália Corniani – from CABI’s centre in São Paulo, Brazil, will disseminate a range of associated training activities.

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CABI-led £1.6 million collaboration helps reduce China’s reliance on harmful pesticides

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A CABI-led project involving an international team of remote sensing and plant protection experts is helping China reduce its reliance on harmful pesticides to fight crop pests and diseases including yellow rust fungal disease of wheat and locusts.

The £1.6 million STFC Newton Agri-Tech Fund-financed project is leaving a lasting legacy in helping the Chinese Government reach its goal of zero increase in pesticide use by 2020 – adopting more sustainable controls, where possible, instead.

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Controlling whiteflies: How marigold is helping to promote safer alternatives for pest management

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Marigold (Asteracae) are commonly used as tools for the prevention of whitefly infestations in fields (© Pexels)

In a recently published study, researchers have identified the natural insect repelling chemical produced by marigold, reinforcing what farmers have culturally used for years as a tool to prevent or reduce whitefly infestations.

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