Update: Plant Health News (02 Mar 16)

A lack of Nitrogen in soil affects the crop (top leaf) and reduces yield (Photo by Dr Prakash Kumar)
A Nitrogen deficient leaf and a normal leaf. Lack of Nitrogen in soil can severely limit yield (photo by Dr Prakash Kumar)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including what can be done about the depleted nitrogen in African soils, investment in safe agricultural products in Vietnam and the effect El Niño is having on global food production.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!

Continue reading

New Type of Invasive Whitefly Recorded In South Africa

The whitefly Bemisia tabaci (USDA image PD USDA ARS via Wikimedia Commons)
The whitefly Bemisia tabaci (USDA image PD USDA ARS via Wikimedia Commons)

A species of whitefly that transmits cassava mosaic virus has been detected in South Africa for the first time. The whitefly, Bemisia tabaci is a cryptic species complex containing some important agricultural pests and virus vectors. The term ‘cryptic species complex’ means that Bemisia tabaci is considered to be a complex of at least 24 different species that look almost identical but are in fact genetically different.  Researchers from a range of organisations including the University of Johannesburg, the University of Witwatersrand and ARC-Vegetable and Ornamental Plant Institute conducted surveys to investigate the diversity and distribution of Bemisia tabaci species in 8 provinces in South Africa. The study aimed to update the information regarding the different Bemisia tabaci types present in the country.

Continue reading

Plantwise plant clinics – Pest diagnosis for a farmer in Barbados

A farmer, Pedro Welch, attended the Plantwise plant clinic at this year’s Agrofest 2012, the annual agricultural show in Barbados. He described the problems he was having on his lime tree, and the plant doctor diagnosed the problem straight away, giving advice on how to manage the pest. Watch the video below to see a plant clinic in action.

Continue reading

Vector control goes viral

Bird cherry-oat aphid, a significant vector of barley yellow dwarf virus in wheat. Credit: David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

Whether it’s measles, mumps or just the common cold, we’ve all suffered from a virus at some point, and so do crops. While we might try to avoid the person coughing and sneezing in the corner, the problem with many viruses (both human and plant) is that those carrying the disease are not always obvious. Attaching a large, neon sign to an infected human would probably be considered slightly unethical, but pointing out the most virulent plant disease carriers is exactly what new research will enable scientists to do to vectors like aphids and whiteflies.

Continue reading