Potential slug invasions and their impact on UK biosecurity (Part 1)

By Dr Jenna Ross

Guest writer, Dr Jenna Ross, from Crop Health and Protection (CHAP), joins us for a two-part special series on the outputs of her prestigious Nuffield Farming Scholarship, where she spent 26 weeks travelling the world studying all aspects of slug invasions and methods of control. In Part 1, Jenna discusses the current slug fauna of the UK and potential slug invasions.

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Figure 1: Dr Jenna Ross

The slug fauna of the UK is constantly evolving. To date, there are an estimated 42 slug species in the UK, with another newly introduced milacid species identified in 2018. However, what is particularly interesting, is that of the species present in the UK, only 18 are native, with the rest being introduced. This means that over 50% of the UK’s slug fauna are exotic. So why are slugs so successful at invading new habitats? There are many reasons for this, including their high reproductive rates, environmental tolerance, flexible behaviour, ability to thrive in association with humans (synanthropic) and the fact they are free from their natural predators and parasites when entering new unoccupied ecological niches.

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Deploying biopesticides to combat fall armyworm in South Sudan

Ivan was in South Sudan to assist farmers to manage FAW

A new project in South Sudan is combatting the fall armyworm, an insect that can cause significant damage to crops, particularly maize. With more than half of South Sudan’s current population—nearly 6.2 million people—in need of life-saving food assistance, safeguarding food security where possible is essential. Launched in January 2019 as a partnership between CABI, a private sector partner – AgBiTech, CIMMYT, FAO, USAID, and the South Sudan Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS), the project is piloting the use of a baculovirus biopesticide called Fawligen.

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Collaborative effort in Kenya to manage the impact of scale insect in coastal region

Coffee production in Rwanda
Coffee is a value cash-crop for many in Africa but successful yields can be affected by scale insects including the coffee mealybug (Copyright Charles Agwanda/CABI)

By Fernadis Makale, CABI

Scale insects – such as the coffee mealybug and cassava mealybug – are some of the least studied group of invertebrates in East Africa. However, a collaborative effort has been made to address the threat they pose to smallholder farmers: despite their cross-cutting status as pests in all plant groups, crops, ornamentals, trees and weeds.

Several organisations* in Kenya including CABI, and in conjunction with the UK’s Natural History Museum, have joined forces to train up to 30 new extension officers whose role will include identifying scale insects and communicating theirs risks and how they can be managed with smallholder farmers.

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Kenya faces devastating Prosopis invasion: What can be done

By Purity Rima Mbaabu. Originally published on The Conversation.

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Prosopis in Lake Baringo, Kenya. Photo: ©CABI

Woody plant species have been deliberately introduced into many arid and semi-arid regions across the world as they can help combat desertification and provide resources – like fuelwood – to the rural poor. But some of these alien trees and shrubs have become invasive, having devastating effects on other species as well as people.

This is big problem in the mainly arid Baringo County, in Kenya’s Rift valley as well as other counties north, east and south of the country.

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Scientists release new allies in the battle against invasive yellow toadflax in the Rocky Mountains

The CABI Blog

ToadflaxYellow toadflax in the field (credit Pixabay)

A team of international scientists are collaborating to fight the noxious weed yellow toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) in Montana’s world-famous Rocky Mountains with the help of a tiny insect – the shoot-galling weevil Rhinusa pilosa.

Yellow toadflax, first introduced from Wales in the late 1600s as an ornamental and medicinal plant and to make textile dyes, is an aggressive invader listed as a noxious weed in more than 10 US states (including North and South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Idaho) – which suppresses desirable vegetation through intense competition for limited soil moisture.

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Reaching more farmers with fall armyworm knowledge and information through ICT-enabled extension

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A community video screening on fall armyworm

Since 2017, CABI and partners have launched a series of extension campaigns in Kenya and Uganda in the fight against the invasive pest fall armyworm. These campaigns used integrated ICT-enabled approaches combining radio, SMS, and community video screenings with the aim of improving awareness, knowledge and management practices for fall armyworm.

Although smallholder agriculture is the main contributor to agricultural production in Africa and vital to food and nutritional security, agricultural productivity generally remains low.

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CABI joins international team of scientists calling for a Global Surveillance System to fight crop diseases

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Blue-green sharpshooters are a disease vector of Xylella fastidiosa (Photo: Katja Schulz / Flickr)

CABI has joined an international team of scientists calling for a Global Surveillance System (GSS) to fight a range of diseases which threaten priority crops including maize, potato, cassava, rice, beans and wheat.

The team, which includes the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) – lead authors of a new report published in Science (28 June 2019), say a GSS is needed to ‘improve and interconnect crop biosecurity systems which could go a long way to improving global food security.’

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