The science behind the home-pregnancy test is now being trialled to detect the presence of diseases, which can devastate fields of vegetable crops, including the Christmas sprout.
Trials are underway to help protect crops of Brassicas – sprouts, broccoli, cabbage – and onions, which generated more than £356 million for UK agriculture last year. Diseases including ring spot, light leaf spot and downy mildew are being monitored.
In a paper published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, a team of researchers from Italy and the US record their study of the effects on honey bees of agriculture that exposes the insects to both poor nutrition (low quality nectar) and pesticides (neonicotinoids).
“Our results provide the first demonstration that these stressors can synergistically interact and cause significant harm to animal survival,” report the researchers. “These findings have implications for pesticide risk-assessment and pollinator protection, and emphasise the importance of nutrition.”
In a government statement today, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, says the UK supports further restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids because of their effects on bees and other pollinators.
The announcement, says the statement, follows advice in October from the UK government’s advisory body on pesticides, the Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP). Scientific evidence now suggests that the environmental risks posed by neonicotinoids are greater than previously understood, says the ECP advice.
Researchers reported in the journal Science this week that tests for five neonicotinoid compounds found at least one in 75% of honey samples from 198 sites around the world.
Combining methods of disease control rather than relying on a single resistance strategy can extend the durability of crops by many years, confirms computer modelling that draws on classical population genetics theory.