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BioSpace: Using space-enabled remote sensing for long term sustainable growth of biopesticide use

Pests and diseases cause significant losses of crops around the world and are a significant threat to food security. In China and Laos, locusts affect over two million hectares of agricultural land and recently, the fall armyworm is becoming prevalent in China and Southeast Asia, already affecting 35,000 hectares of maize in Laos. Due to a lack of detailed information on where risks to crops are greatest and farmers using inappropriate and ineffective control measures, managing the damage from pests can be problematic.

Saving Tristan’s only native tree and its associated unique buntings

Invasive non-native species are a major threat on oceanic islands due to their vulnerability and endemism, typical of island ecosystems. On Tristan da Cunha, a remote group of islands in the South Atlantic, Brown soft scale, (Coccus hesperidum), an invasive alien scale insect, has infested Tristan’s only native tree, Phylica arborea; and is now threatening the extinction of one of Britain’s rarest bird species, Nesospiza buntings. There is, therefore, an urgent need to find an appropriate method to mitigate the impact of the scale insects and prevent the total collapse of the Phylica forest. The aim of this project is to select and safely test suitable biocontrol agents to reduce scale numbers below a damaging threshold and safeguard Tristan’s endemic buntings.

Enabling safe and climate smart coffee production in Colombia

The coffee berry borer (CBB) is the most serious coffee pest, worldwide, causing crop damage in excess of $US500 million, annually. In Colombia, 75% of coffee crops are affected by this pest, where it directly damages coffee beans, destroying the taste and making the beans unsaleable. Furthermore, climate change is enabling the wider spread of CBB, especially at higher altitudes. To overcome losses, the trend amongst farmers is to intensify their activities and expand growing areas. CABI and partners are producing an alert system that uses climatic data and remote sensing technology to give farmers advance warnings of CBB surges, allowing them time to access and apply controls. Biopesticides will be profiled by CABI and relayed into the alert system to further advance the farmers’ abilities to select the right product, at the right time. Women farmers are also integral to the project and to on-farm decision-making but a lack of access to information reduces their participation. This project will focus on overcoming gender disparities in coffee farming.

Daisuke Kurose

Evaluation of fungal pathogens for biocontrol of cat’s claw creeper

Cat’s claw creeper is a vigorous vine native to tropical Central America and northern South America. Introduced into Australia for ornamental purposes, this troublesome liana escaped cultivation and is now regarded as a significant environmental weed.

Plantwise

Worldwide, over 500 million smallholder farmers provide food for two-thirds of the earth’s growing population. Achieving a zero hunger world by 2030 depends on increasing the productivity of these smallholder farmers – but their crops face a significant threat. Yearly, an estimated 40% of crops grown worldwide are lost to pests. If we could reduce crop losses by just 1%, we could potentially feed millions more people. The lack of access to timely, appropriate and actionable extension advice makes it a fundamental challenge for farmers to get the right information at the right time to reduce crop losses.