Twenty Innovators Selected to Tackle Fall Armyworm in Africa with Digital Solutions

By Lauren Bieniek. Reblogged from Agrilinks.

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It’s hard to believe that a small worm could destroy millions  millions of tons of crop yields, millions of dollars in farm income and millions of tons of food for families.

I’m talking about the Fall Armyworm (FAW), an invasive pest that has spread quickly across the African continent. Originally from the Americas, FAW was first reported in West Africa in early 2016 and now seriously threatens food supplies across the continent.

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Protecting Carnaúba Palm Trees in Brazil from Devil’s Claw

Carnauba palms and Devils claw vine
Carnaúba palms covered by Devil’s claw vine

Called the “White Forest” by native populations, the Caatinga ecosystem covers an estimated 11% of Brazil and is spread across the states of Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, northern Minas Gerais, Maranhão Paraíba, Piau, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte and Sergipe. This dry forest is home to the largest populations of Carnaúba palms in the world. It also has some of the world’s most diverse plant life and its biodiversity is critically important to maintaining the variety of animals native to the region, such as the emblematic three-banded armadillo.

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Does travel stress strengthen invasiveness?

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Research has already shown that invasive species tend to be more tolerant to environmental stress than related non-invasive species. However, a recent study published in Biological Invasions, set out to discover whether this stress tolerance was an inherent trait or whether it was something acquired en route from their natural habitat to the new one.

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Himalayan Balsam: Cause or Associate of Soil Erosion?

Himalayan Balsam
Himalayan balsam was introduced as an ornamental plant and has now become a widespread invasive plant (© Stacey Newman)

Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is a non-native annual plant that was introduced into parts of Europe during the mid-nineteenth century as an ornamental plant for parks and gardens.

This plant species was first recognised as an invasive species and a threat to ecological stability in the 1930’s. However, since then the problem has escalated and is now of international concern, due to its negative impact on ecosystem biodiversity. This is primarily due to its ability to out-compete and overcrowd native vegetation. Himalayan balsam has now naturalised in many countries, resulting in a shift in management strategies from attempting to remove the invasive plant, to limiting its territory and further spread.

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March of the Armyworm

By Stephanie Parker. Reblogged from Earth Island Journal.

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Since fall armyworms invaded his maize fields in central Ethiopia last year, Mohamud Abdu has had little success controlling them. He estimates that he lost 50 percent of his crop in 2017. Photo: Stephanie Parker

Mohamud Abdu stands tall in his maize field in Alaba, Ethiopia, a small agricultural district over 200 kilometers south of the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. Smooth green leaves reach up to his waist. The field is off a dirt road where children ride old bicycles and the occasional wooden cart, pulled by donkeys and piled high with people, passes by.

The sea of green where Abdu stands looks lush and healthy at first glance. The maize stalks are planted closely together and the leaves rustle gently in the wind. But upon inspection, these leaves are riddled with holes and plant detritus litter the remainder. Abdu pries open the whorl of a nearby maize plant with his fingers, and takes out a small caterpillar, roughly an inch long. It squirms on his palm.

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A night at the movies: with soybean and fall armyworm as stars of the show

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A similar screening takes place with a community in Uganda

Farmers in northern Ghana are beginning to get a taste of the latest movie out of the Box Office – it’s not a romantic comedy or a thriller – instead it’s a production that will help them get more from their soybean crops and protect their maize from the fall armyworm caterpillar.

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