Scientists have taken a step forward in their efforts to tackle serious crop pests by reducing the sensitivity of biopesticides to sunlight
Insect pests consume around a third of all the crops we grow, sometimes threatening food security. The main way of controlling these pests is by spraying chemical pesticides but these can be damaging to the environment and so safer alternatives are urgently required including more effective biological pesticides.
NIAB EMR, in a joint UK–China research programme, has discovered several strains of the strawberry disease Verticillium wilt (Verticillium dahliae), belonging to two different groups, that act in very different ways. The results are already being used by plant breeders in the development of a new generation of wilt resistant varieties.
Scientists have found diamondback moth (DBM) caterpillars surviving in UK Brassica crops this winter and are recommending growers check their own crops for the pest now.
Previously considered a migratory pest, recent research from AHDB indicated that diamondback moths could be surviving UK winters.
AHDB’s Dawn Teverson, and Rosemary Collier from Warwick Crop Centre have been out in the field hunting for the caterpillars and found the pest on the underside of leaves in un-netted swede crops, located in the south west of England.
UK herb growers will be able to protect their crops with a new weed control product in record time, following successful trials as part of AHDB’s £1.4m crop protection project.
To achieve this approval so quickly, the team used intelligence from other EU countries, collaborating closely with other manufacturers and growers, to ensure trials on control products fulfil market needs and are likely to gain authorisation for use.
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.
“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.”