Breakthroughs in science and technology are helping overcome global food production challenges and changing the worlds’ agriculture. A new Centre for Applied Crop Science is ensuring the UK has the necessary capital needed to deliver a cutting edge platform to support agriculture in the UK and beyond. CABI is the lead partner in three main work strands namely: Novel control discovery and implementation, Collection of biotic crop pests, and Horizon scanning and international development.
Farmers face issues with insect pests that damage their crops. In Africa, cold storage facilities necessary for some biopesticides aren’t always available. As experts in this and crop management, we are working with Asymptote Ltd, a UK technology company, to develop an appropriate product for rural conditions in Africa, meaning African farmers will no longer have to rely on harmful chemical pesticides to protect their crops.
Jatropha gossypiifolia (bellyache bush) is a major invasive plant in northern Australia. Previous biocontrol efforts have focused on insects but the Australian Government is now also keen to explore fungal pathogens. As experts, CABI is carrying out safety and efficacy experiments with the rust pathogen Phakopsora arthuriana using a strain originating from Trinidad. Results will help the Australian authorities decide whether this rust is suitable for biocontrol of J. gossypiifolia in Australia.
Agriculture is very important to China and chemical pesticides are often used to control their associated pests. Biopesticides, which have a low impact on surrounding plants and the environment can be used instead and China wants to switch over to them. Using CABI’s expertise, this project uses Earth Observation (EO) and other data to build a prototype system that provides information on locust control in China.
Crassula helmsii is an invasive water weed that dominates still or slow-flowing water bodies. It’s spreading throughout the UK and has the potential to out-compete native flora and reduce oxygen levels by forming dense mats. Management of this species can be very challenging, with chemical and mechanical options limited. CABI were commissioned by the UK government to investigate the possibility of controlling the weed using biological control. This includes testing by our scientists to ensure that any potential agent is safe for release.
Floating pennywort is an invasive aquatic plant that can over-run water bodies in the UK, and is threatening habitats, native plants, fish and insects. Also a problem across much of Europe, this plant has rapid growth and can regenerate from small fragments. Management is mainly limited to mechanical clearance which is expensive and often ineffective. Through comprehensive host range testing, this project aims to identify the safest and most effective biocontrol agent to keep the plant in check.