Plantwise plant clinics start up in China

Pilot plant clinic opened in Guangxi, Southwest China © CABI

A pilot scheme of Plantwise clinics has started in China. Huanhuan Wan and Caroline Scotter-Mainprize report on the success of the first clinic session in Southwest China.

China’s first Plantwise plant clinic was successfully established in Rongjiang town, Xing’an county, Guangxi province, Southwest China on 19 May 2012. A great number of local farmers arrived with problem crop samples to consult the plant doctors; Han Chuyuan, a vineyard owner, travelled more than 40km with his samples of pest-damaged vines and grapes. Continue reading

From discovery to eradication: the coconut rhinoceros beetle on Guam

The coconut rhinoceros beetle has damaged many palm trees in Guam © Peter Lillywhite, Museum Victoria, Pests and Diseases Image Library (CC BY 3.0 license)

It takes a large combined effort to successfully eradicate a plant pest. The Guam Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Eradication Project has finally found a technique that could bring them their own eradication success story. The coconut rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros) was first discovered in Guam on 11th September 2007. Over the past five years it has caused severe damage to coconut palms, although its initial spread was slowed by the quick reactions of the government. It is now present in many parts of the island and, as coconuts are an important economic commodity for the US territory, is high priority for removal. Continue reading

Agricultural Super Ducks

Agricultural super ducks? You may think that the entire phrase is flawed. Ducks waddle around in parks, not on farms. You probably have never thought of them as being particularly ‘super’ as they paddle around the park pond, searching for scraps of bread. However, you’d be mistaken, as I was, for the humble duck is now emerging as a new tool in the farmer’s arsenal for improving food security. Brace yourself for the rise of the agricultural super duck.

Recently, we have witnessed a rise in the use of ducks in Asian agricultural systems. They have their own book dedicated to their amazing agricultural abilities in Japan and are already employed in some of Bangladesh’s rice paddies. These agricultural superstars provide an effective pest management solution and have even been found to reduce both production costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

A Farmer's New Best Friend? Source: Flickr, Nick Fedele

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The problems of achieving food security for 1.6 billion people in China

Agriculture in China has grown at a remarkable rate over the past 50 years © Gabriele Quaglia (Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license)

It is predicted that the population of China will stabilise at 1.6 billion within the next two decades. In order to feed this many people, crop production will need to increase by 2% each year to provide the estimated 580 million tonnes of grain that will be required. Mingsheng Fan and colleagues have published a review of past trends in agricultural production in China and the solutions that they think will allow China to produce more food in the future without an increase in available agricultural land. The main crops produced in large quantities in China are cereal crops, particularly wheat, maize and rice. The main limiting factors for the continued increase in agricultural production are water availability and soil quality. There is also the requirement to reduce use of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilisers because they pollute the air and water.

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