Many farmers who grow soybean and corn also integrate crop rotation strategies to avoid the continuous corn yield cost, but scientists from the US have given a new reason to use crop rotation. Evidence suggests that rotating crops increases yield and lowers greenhouse gas emissions compared to monoculture corn or soybean.
A short extract of some of the main points raised during the course “Examining Issues around Global Food Security” by Dr Julie Flood from CABI at the Department of Continuing Education’s program of the University of Oxford on March 7th, 2014. The course aimed to highlight the issues of food security/insecurity, and particularly around growing of biofuels.
A major international conference ‘Planet under Pressure (PUP)’ is being held in London, United Kingdom, this week, 26–29 March 2012. The meeting is being attended by scientists, industry leaders and decision makers. It will show whether science can, not only diagnose our environmental crisis, but also provide effective solutions, says David Dickson, SciDev’s editor, the official organisation providing coverage of the event. CABI is also marking its presence at Planet under Pressure.
It has been estimated that presently pests cause 30-50% of yield losses to agricultural crops in developing countries and these rates are likely to increase with climate change. Although much attention has been given to the impacts of climate change on insect abundance and severity in temperate regions, little is known about potential impacts in tropical regions. Furthermore, recent studies suggest that climate change may favour pests over their natural predators, disrupting classical biocontrol of insect pests.
To address this gap, a new software, Insect Life Cycle Modelling (ILCYM), was developed by The International Potato Center (CIP) to better estimate and to help mitigate the impacts of global warming on pest risk to food crops.
How is ILCYM used?
The “model builder” software supports the development of insect phenology models based on experimental temperature data of a specific insect, explained the model developers in a report, published in the CGIAR page. The module also provides tools to analyse an insect’s life-table and to validate existing models. The second module implements the CIP-developed temperature-driven phenology model in a GIS environment and allows for regional as well as global spatial simulation of insect activities (“pest risk mapping”). In its present version the software uses the phenology model of the potato tuber moth, Phthorimaea operculela, as an example, but can also be applied to other insect species.
The effects of the 1997 El Niño event on Peru provided a preview of what global warming may bring. Temperatures on the Peruvian coast were about 5°C higher than average and insect pest populations flourished, which prompted farmers to respond by applying high doses of pesticides every 2-3 days.
The ILCYM software is a new tool, which, it is hoped, will facilitate the development of insect phenology models and mapping of risk scenarios, highlighting places where training and adaptation efforts can be most effective.
CIP is coordinating further development of ILCYM and its application to a wider range of insects in a new project. Collaborators include the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the University of Hohenheim, Germany, under the CGIAR System-wide Program on Integrated Pest management, and partners at national agricultural research institutes and universities in Africa.
Link to CIP webpage.