Rothamsted Research has secured government funding to kick-start its new five-year strategic programme, Smart Crop Protection (SCP), to control sustainably the pests, pathogens and weeds that destroy nearly a third of crops grown worldwide. The investment of circa £6.3 million covers the programme’s first three years.
The blueberry aphid, Ericaphis scammelli, has been detected during routine aphid surveys by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) and is thought to be widespread across Scotland. It is also known to occur in other parts of the United Kingdom and Europe.
Scientists at the John Innes Centre have discovered how plants send internal warning signals in response to attack by aphids.
They found that when the insect feeds on a leaf it triggers the plant to admit calcium into the damaged cells. This small flux of calcium prompts the plant to signal that an attack is underway, and a larger amount of calcium is then mobilised from within the cell.
Warwick University‘s School of Life Sciences is a partner in a new £1.4M 4-year project ‘SCEPTREplus’ funded by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). The aim of the project is to deliver applied research on high priority disease, pest and weed problems in fresh produce and ornamental crops in order to support approval of products and devise and develop IPM programmes. The project consortium is chaired by Ed Moorhouse (Agri-Food Solutions Director) and includes RSK ADAS, NIAB EMR and Stockbridge Technology Centre.
Maintaining production of many UK crops is at risk if neonicotinoids, the pesticides linked with harming bees, are more widely restricted or banned completely, says Rothamsted Research in a position statement published today.
“Furthermore, if groups of chemistries are limited by legislation, the remaining groups will be more widely used, resulting in an increased risk of pests developing resistance to them,” continues the statement from Rothamsted, the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world.