Factsheet of the month: May 2015 – Tolerant bean varieties against stem maggots

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The saying “prevention is better than cure” is no more true than when applied to agriculture. Taking precautionary measures against common pests can increase farmer income by investing a small amount of money into minimising crop losses, ensuring a high yield. Preventative measures can include correct land preparation, physical barriers, field hygiene and cultivation of tolerant varieties. Unlike resistant varieties, tolerant varieties can host the pest, but are not seriously affected by it. Different varieties have different levels of tolerance to different pests. It is therefore important for farmers to select a variety with tolerance to the pests known to occur in their area. This month’s Factsheet of the month ‘Tolerant bean varieties against stem maggots’ provides information about the use of bean varieties tolerant to stem maggots, also known as bean flies. Stem maggots are an important pest of legumes found mainly in Asia and East Africa. They feed by tunnelling into leaves, stems and roots, weakening the plant and increasing the chance of death in younger plants.

 This factsheet was written last year by staff from the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI).

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Factsheet of the month: December – Management of white stem borer of coffee

The white stem borer, also known as Seto Gavaro, is a major pest of coffee in Nepal. In fact, the government and industry hold the pest largely responsible for the drop in production between mid-2012 and mid-2013. Coffee is a major cash crop in Nepal so it is important that farmers do not lose yield to pests such as the white stem borer. Earlier this year, the government set up a new Coffee Research Centre in Baletaksar after a major outbreak of the white stem borer.

To find out more about white stem borers on coffee and their management, read this month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers which was written by staff from the Pesticide Registration and Management Division, Goverment of Nepal.

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Factsheet of the month: November – Brown planthopper of rice

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Last week, Nature published an article on the story of rice, from a wild grass to the stable crop we know today. Rice is one of the most important crops in the world as it forms the basis of the diet of a large portion of the human population. Due to the high importance of this crop, there is a vast amount of research that goes into ensuring the world’s rice production is as efficient and sustainable as possible.

Like all crops, rice is affected by a range of pests including insects, pathogens, weeds, nematodes and birds. One of the most damaging pests for rice in Asia is the Brown Planthopper (BPH). This pest not only feeds on rice plants, but also transmits grassy stunt virus and ragged stunt virus which cause stunting and reduce productivity. There are chemicals that will control this insect pest but it is important to note that this isn’t always the best method of control, due to the effect on natural enemies that feed on BPH. There are a range of non-chemical options that are effective at preventing and controlling BPH including the use of resistant varieties and avoiding excessive urea application to the field.

To find out more about BPH and its management, read this month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers which was written by staff from Shushilan, an agroecology and rights-based NGO situated in South West Bangladesh. Please note this factsheet is also available in Bengali.

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Artificial Intelligence employed to protect crops against the oriental fruit fly.

A female oriental fruit fly laying her eggs into a Papaya. (ARS, USDA)

A new system has been developed in Taiwan which uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the monitoring of the oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis). The system uses infrared beams to detect the number of flies present in the area, in order to predict impending outbreaks. It is hoped that this system will reduce the need for the drastic action seen in California recently, which saw an emergency alert issued after 13 insects were spotted in the state. This prompted insecticide to be sprayed on affected crops and could lead to large areas of farmland being quarantined to avoid the spread of the pest.

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