Suitable Range for Spotted Lanternfly


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As the invasive spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) continues to expand its range in the eastern U.S., a new study on the temperatures it needs for progressing through its life cycle offers a clearer picture of where the spotted lanternfly is likely to thrive—and where it’s not. In short, northern ranges and higher elevations could escape its impacts. (Photo by Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org)

By Ed Ricciuti

Ed Ricciuti

Locations with shorter and cooler seasons may prevent invasive spotted lanternflies (Lycorma delicatula) from developing into adulthood shielding lucky homeowners in northern and upland areas from the glop and sooty mold left behind as the gaudy but destructive pests suck the sap and life out of myriad trees and crops.

In a study published in September in Environmental Entomology, a two-year project conducted by a team of Penn State University scientists provides strong evidence to support predictions that the spotted lanternfly’s potential spread will be limited by increasing altitude and latitude, saving places like the Appalachians of North Carolina and Green Mountains of Vermont from its depredations. Even in those places, however, a span of not much more than a proverbial stone’s throw or two away can make a big difference in the insect’s survival prospects.

The primary focus of the paper, says lead author Dennis D. Calvin, Ph.D., recently retired from the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State, “was to study the seasonal development of spotted lanternfly populations and develop mathematical equations based on seasonal degree-day accumulations to estimate the timing of key life-stage activity periods.”

Degree Days and Spotted Lanternfly Development

In entomology, a degree day (DD) is a measure of the time and extent to which temperatures are within the range that allows an insect to develop. For an insect to develop fully, it needs a particular number of degree days during which the temperature sits at a level that enables its development through each life stage. It is the so-called “Goldilocks Principle” at work—not too hot, not too cold, but just right. If the average temperature on one day is, for example, 10 degrees above an insect’s base threshold temperature for development, then 10 degree days are accumulated that day. The base threshold of development is the temperature at which insect development is essentially zero. Entomologists use accumulated degree days (ADD) to calculate the total heat demands an insect needs to develop through a stage or its entire life cycle. With ADD, scientists can peek into the hidden facets of insect growth and thus figure out the total heat demands required for survival.

The processes described in the new study should produce accurate predictions of the suitable geographic range of the spotted lanternfly by evaluating its potential to complete a life cycle from spring egg hatch to fall egg deposition based on season length, expressed as ADD, at a given location.

Equations that predict the timing of lanternfly life stages could be a critical tool for pest management practices, such as monitoring and activating controls. Using the equations, the Penn State researchers were able to estimate areas lacking enough accumulated degree days for lanternflies to reach the adult stage, lay eggs, and gain a foothold.

“If the timing of key life stages, as seen in field data, is consistent enough across years and/or locations to make sound management decisions, then pest managers can effectively time monitoring, surveillance, scouting, and control tactics,” the researchers write.

Wide vertical photo of the bottom six feet of a tree trunk surrounded by a round bed of mulch near a sidewalk in front of a gray house. Wrapped around the top of the visible portion of the trunk is a band of off-white material, with clear plastic above and below it and metal chicken wire placed over it. On the ground in front of the tree, a small sign reads "Spotted lanternfly experiment going on."
Closeup of a tree trunk in front of a gray house. Wrapped around the top part of the visible portion of the trunk is a white material speckled with many small dark flecks and a few spotted lanternflies. Below the white material is clear plastic, and over both is metal chicken wire. Below, on the unwrapped portion of the tree trunk, eight spotted lanternflies are visible, all appearing to head upward toward the sticky white material.

Calculations by the research team suggest that areas with fewer than 991 ADD are unlikely to provide enough time for females to emerge, mate, and develop mature eggs for deposition. “Thus, since the northern, higher elevation in the Northern Appalachians, Catskills, Adirondacks, Green, and White Mountains and the Allegheny Plateau region do not accumulate enough ADD for 1 percent adult emergence, these areas may have a very low risk of spotted lanternfly population establishment,” they write. Most of Maine, highland and lowland, is marginal for lanternfly reproduction. Other areas that do not provide enough season length to reach the adult stage include high elevations in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania and the Northern Allegheny Plateau in Pennsylvania.

The location they chose for their investigation of the lanternfly’s seasonal activity—on red maple and tree-of-heaven host trees—was a housing development in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania and the adjacent woodland. The inch-and-a-half-long insect was first detected nearby in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 2014. It has now expanded its range to at least 14 states. The study site has similar climate to that of its range in China, where natural foes control it.

Using 10.4 degrees Celsius as a lower threshold of development, the researchers related key life stage activity periods to the day of the year and ADD, starting January 1. They came up with mathematical equations for nymphal instar, adult, and fall egg-mass deposition activity. Another set of mathematical equations was engineered for adult and fall egg-mass deposition periods using the first observation of adults as a starting date. With these equations, they estimated the geographic range where spotted lanternfly can potentially complete a partial or full life cycle, from spring egg hatch to fall egg-mass deposition.

Where Temperatures Do (and Don’t) Suit Spotted Lanternfly

Not surprisingly, the impact of both latitude and altitude seems to have a major effect on potential lanternfly expansion, as average temperature decreases with increases in altitude or latitude. Beyond that, the fact that altitude can offset the impact of latitude can have profound implication on lanternfly habitat, the researchers explain: “In the north, the Hudson, Connecticut, Delaware, Merrimack, and Susquehanna River valleys and the area between the Catskills and Adirondacks Mountains, where the Erie Canal ran, are lower elevation and have longer season lengths than the surrounding area. In very short distances, the seasonal ADD can drop by 500 or more.”

As the invasive spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) continues to expand its range in the eastern U.S., a new study on the temperatures it needs for progressing through its life cycle offers a clearer picture of where the spotted lanternfly is likely to thrive—and where it’s not. Researchers at Penn State University studied the relationship between the spotted lanternfly’s development cycle and temperature and then applied that to climate data across the northeastern U.S., as shown here. Areas shaded in blue, corresponding to approximately 1,000 accumulated “degree days” and below, are unlikely to sustain average seasonal temperatures for spotted lanternfly to complete its full growth and reproductive cycles. (Figure originally published in Calvin et al 2023, Environmental Entomology)

Lanternflies threaten crops such as almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, peaches, grapes, and hops, as well as hardwoods such as oak, walnut, and poplar. Typical of plant hoppers, they chew into stems and branches of plants to suck out sap, causing wilting, leaf curling, and dieback. To make matters worse, like aphids, the lanternfly excretes sugary honeydew that attracts bees and wasps and feeds the growth of black sooty mold, which discolors and weakens plants and also makes a mess on patio furniture, cars, and anything else on which it grows. The honeydew problem is accelerated when lanternflies congregate, as they commonly do.

Calvin says that the equations developed may make a big difference in lanternfly control. “It is hoped that, by having equations that can be used to predict the timing of key life-stage activity periods, pest managers can use this information to better time monitoring, surveillance. and control activities. It can save time and money by giving a smaller window to time these activities and also show how the timing of these activities varies across geographic locations,” he says.

More Clues for Spotted Lanternfly Management

The Penn State scientists also turned up hints of other aspects of lanternfly behavior that, down the road, could boost control measures. Early in the season, the dominant sex of lanternflies on red maples was male. As fall and the reproductive season approached, however, females began to show up on the maples and then laid their eggs. The significance of egg laying close to the fall equinox suggests that its timing is not driven solely by degree days but possibly also influenced by another environmental signal such as day length that allows the insect to determine the season is drawing to an end.

Co-author Julie Urban, Ph.D., also of Penn State, says that “the movement of adults that we report could potentially have implications for the monitoring that is done at satellite or ‘pop-up’ populations of SLF found in previously uninfested areas.” In other words, monitoring should be extended beyond the initial site of infestation and host species.

Read More

Seasonal activity of spotted lanternfly (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae), in Southeast Pennsylvania

Environmental Entomology

Ed Ricciuti is a journalist, author, and naturalist who has been writing for more than a half century. His latest book is called Bears in the Backyard: Big Animals, Sprawling Suburbs, and the New Urban Jungle (Countryman Press, June 2014). His assignments have taken him around the world. He specializes in nature, science, conservation issues, and law enforcement. A former curator at the New York Zoological Society, and now at the Wildlife Conservation Society, he may be the only man ever bitten by a coatimundi on Manhattan’s 57th Street.

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FAO: Disasters cause $3.8 trillion in crop losses over 30 year


FAO: Disasters cause $3.8 trillion in crop losses over 30 year

by Juliette MICHEL

The frequency of disasters is increasing and so is their impact on food production, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization warns.

Natural and man-made disasters have caused $3.8 trillion in crop and livestock losses over 30 years, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization said on Friday.

Floods, droughts, insect infestations, storms, disease and war have caused about $123 billion per year in lost food production between 1991 and 2021, the equivalent of five percent of total production or enough to feed up to half a billion people per year, the FAO said in a report.

This is the first time the UN body has tried to compile such an estimate, with the aim of putting into context the scale of the cost of disasters on both a global and personal scale.

“The international community is taking stock of the fact that disasters are… increasing tremendously… quadrupling since the 1970s” and are having an increasing impact on food production, the deputy head of FAO’s statistics department, Piero Conforti, told AFP.

The FAO report, entitled “The Impact of Disasters on Agriculture and Food Security”, found that disasters are increasing in severity and frequency, from 100 per year in the 1970s to around 400 events per year in the past 20 years.

Climate change a systemic risk

Climate change is increasingly responsible, as well as human and livestock diseases.

“Agriculture around the world is increasingly at risk of being disrupted due to multiple hazards and threats such as flooding, water scarcity, drought, declining agricultural yields and fisheries resources, loss of biological diversities and environmental degradation,” said the FAO.

It identified the “systemic drivers of disaster risk” as climate change, pandemics, epidemics and armed conflicts.

The damage adds up quickly.

Average annual grain losses hit 69 million metric tons, the equivalent of France’s annual production.

Some 40 million tons of fruit and vegetable production was lost, and 16 million tons of meat, dairy and eggs.

Around 23 percent of losses due to disasters were sustained in the agricultural sector.

The FAO further found that poorer nations suffered the highest losses due to extreme events in terms of the percentage of their agricultural output, at up to 10 percent.

Asia is the worst-hit region, sustaining 45 percent of total agricultural losses due to disasters, and losing the equivalent of four percent of its agricultural output.

Horn of Africa nations that are regularly impacted by drought lost an average of 15 percent of crop production.

Island developing nations have also been particularly hard hit, sustaining losses of seven percent of their agricultural output.

Women at greater risk

Women are also hit harder than men.

“That’s because of resource constraints and structural constraints that women face in accessing things like information, financial instruments, the resources that they need to prepare to respond to or recover from disaster events,” said the report’s author, Zehra Zaidi.

In Pakistan, where women account for 70 percent of farm laborers, it was shown after floods that men found other work much easier than women.

Lack of sufficient data kept the FAO from calculating losses to fishing and forest production.

Despite the increasing frequency and intensity of disasters, it is possible to reduce risks to agriculture.

“There is no one size fits all solution,” said the FAO’s Conforti, but “there are a range of practices that can enhance the resilience of agricultural systems.”

That includes agronomic techniques such as using different plant varieties and different methods to prepare the soil, as well as creating and improving warning systems.

When locusts invaded the Horn of Africa region in 2020 and 2021, early warning provided the time necessary to treat 2.3 million hectares (5.6 million acres) in the region and nearby Yemen.

Some $1.77 billion in losses in grain and dairy production was saved, the FAO estimates.

Moreover, it was extremely cost-effective, with each dollar invested in prevention measures resulted in $15 of avoided crop losses.

© 2023 AFP


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Early warning systems send disaster deaths plunging: UN

Ghana: Early pest warnings and IPM advice improve food security


Ghana: Early pest warnings and IPM advice improve food security

November 14, 2023 

Donna Hutchinson 

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Early pest warnings and IPM advice are improving food security for maize farmers in Ghana

Pest warnings are changing the way that smallholders in Ghana farm. Smallholder maize farmers in Ghana have long grappled with the challenges posed by crop pests. Over the past few years, this has included the notorious fall armyworm. This voracious invader has, in the past, led to significant crop losses. And the losses have impacted both food security and livelihoods in rural communities.

However, a recent study led by CABI has shown an interesting development. Early warning pest alerts reap benefits when coupled with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) advice. And they can make a substantial difference to farmers’ livelihoods and food security.

See the full paper here, published in the journal Food Security.

Tomato farmer inspecting crops, Kenya

The alerts are broadcasted through community information centres or sent via mobile phone as text messages to farmers. They include IPM advice, which helps smallholders to boost crop yields by using a holistic approach. IPM combines various techniques, including biological control, monitoring and reduced pesticide use. The approach helps farmers manage pests more effectively while minimizing damage to crops. This results in increased yields. Plus, the techniques are more sustainable. They are better for human and environmental health.

The power of satellite technology for early pest warnings

The link between space-based technology and pest warnings might not be obvious at first. But information gathered by satellite is helping farmers better prepare for pest outbreaks.

In Africa, invasive pests, pathogens and weeds cost agriculture a staggering $65.58 billion annually. In 2016, CABI initiated the Pest Risk Information Service (PRISE) to tackle these challenges. The initiative was launched in collaboration with a number of international partners. It is partly funded by the PlantwisePlus programme. PRISE leverages several approaches and technologies. These include earth observation technology, satellite data, pest life cycles and real-time field observations. When harnessed, the information gathered by the service delivers early warnings about crop pests to farmers. This empowers farmers to implement IPM plans that can help limit potential yield losses.

The alerts help farmers address some of Africa’s most damaging crop pests. The fall armyworm, for example, is a significant threat to maize crops. It contributes to an average loss of 27% in Ghana. During the 2021 agricultural season, pest alerts were beneficial. PRISE used a combination of data, modelling and observation to forecast the risk of fall armyworm outbreaks. These alerts were then transmitted to farmers. They received them through Community Information Centres (CICs) and voice short message service (SMS).

The evidence and impact of pest warning information

Research into PRISE is now revealing the impact these alerts have had on farmer food security. In 2021-22, CABI conducted a study in Ghana’s major maize-growing regions of Bono and Bono East. It involved 888 farm households operating 1,305 maize fields. These smallholder farmers were provided with pest risk information obtained from satellite technology. The results gave positive results. Those who received this information experienced an average gain of 4% in their maize yields. Furthermore, they were also 33% less likely to report experiencing hunger. This is a crucial indicator of food security.

The findings of the research imply some interesting results. Early warning pest alerts, together with actionable IPM information, are a win-win. They can contribute to the adoption of sustainable crop protection technologies. And they can improve the standard of living of farming households in Ghana.

Including women in pest alert services

Moreover, the study revealed a notable trend. When women received the pest risk information, positive outcomes were more likely. This is in comparison to when the information was solely directed at men. The positive outcomes were evident when women were either alone or together with their spouses. This insight underscores an important finding. Ensuring that information reaches all stakeholders in farming households – especially women – is beneficial.

Extension worker and a smallholder farmer using a tablet in the field.

A brighter future for smallholder farmers

The study’s lead author is Dr. Justice Tambo, a Senior Socio-Economist at CABI. He underscored how the gains from pest risk information are significant. However, they are not limited to increasing yields and reducing hunger. The reduction in pesticide use was less substantial than expected. Neither were improvements in household dietary diversity. However, the positive impact on food security was undeniable.

Dr. Tambo talked about how the study’s objectives were not nutrition-related. However, any positive indirect effect on dietary quality or nutrition outcomes is important. This is particularly pertinent given the alarming levels of malnutrition among rural populations.

Could pest warnings pave the way to nutrition-sensitive agriculture?

The findings of this study open the door to a broader perspective on agricultural interventions. Early warning pest alerts and IPM can increase yields and reduce hunger. But they can also be leveraged to promote nutrition-sensitive agriculture. Integrating nutrition education into pest-related campaign messages is beneficial. These interventions can contribute to better diets and, ultimately, healthier rural populations.

This research underscores the potential for well-informed, technology-driven interventions. They can transform the lives of smallholder farmers. In Ghana and beyond, early pest warnings and IPM advice are transformational. They have the power to enhance food security and reduce hunger. They can lay the foundation for more resilient and prosperous farming communities. We continue to face agricultural challenges in an ever-changing world. Climate change impacts rural communities across the globe. But the data-driven knowledge sharing offers hope and practical solutions for the future.

For more information about PRISE, see the project page

For more information about fall armyworm, see the portal.

PlantwisePlus is financially supported by the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS), Netherlands; European Commission Directorate General for International Partnerships (INTPA, EU); the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), United Kingdom; the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC); the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR); the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China (MARA)

All images are ©CABI

Fall armywormGhanaIPMPRISEfood securitymaizepest alertsplant healthtechnology

Agriculture and International DevelopmentCrop health

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IPM and Biocontrol solutions also help improve sustainability


IPM and Biocontrol solutions also help improve sustainability

1 min read Certis Belchim

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30 October 2023, Europe: The second Innovation panel of the Biofruit Congress focussed on the latest Biocontrol and IPM innovations that also contribute to improve sustainability

The 6th international BIOFRUIT CONGRESS run during Fruit Attraction, organized by Eurofresh Distribution and IFEMA, included for the second time a session on Innovation and sustainability. Last’s year focus was on post-harvest innovations, this year’s panel on Biocontrol and other IPM innovations which help reduce the farm footprint at the level of disease and pest management. The use of Biocontrol solutions alone is calculated to have an average 30% lesser footprint than the use of chemical products alone. The reduction is higher when their applications are also more effective. Biocontrol leaders Certis Belchim, Bioline and Koppert, as well as Kimitec research center (Maavi Foundation), shared their latest and future innovations which help to improve both crop protection solutions and sustainability.

Biorationals, chemicals, pheromones, botanicals, vegetation cover… a clear and unique IPM concept under the Growing For The Future umbrella, Certis Belchim has been developing combined biocontrol and chemical solutions to grow residue-free crops in both greenhouse and field production. “Residue-free is possible in many crops today, thanks to the combination of our natural and chemical solutions” confirms Pedro Juan, Head of Food Chain Management. It has been possible due to Certis Belchim’s cooperation across the entire food chain. “Growing for the future” or G4TF is Certis Belchim’s food chain value-proposition, developed since 2012 to help growers and exporters to meet today’s residue level requirements of the European retailers, 50 to 70% lower than the European MRL, as well as the EU objectives of sustainability for the future: 50% reduction of the use of pesticides, 25% of production organic and 50% reduction of food loss.

Also Read: Innovative Label Design: Revolutionizing Agrochemical Packaging in India

(For Latest Agriculture News & Updates, follow Krishak Jagat on Google News)

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California: Spotting Wine Grape Disease From Skies


California: Spotting Wine Grape Disease From Skies

Aug. 4, 2023

Plant pathologist Katie Gold, an assistant professor at Cornell University, inspects diseased grapes in a field. Gold’s team used a JPL-developed instrument to detect infected crops from the air in one of California’s most important wine grape producing regions.

 Credit: Allison Usavage

In a case study, scientists detected the costly infection in cabernet sauvignon grapevines before they showed symptoms visible to the human eye.

Withering molds, root-rotting bacteria, viruses, and other plant pathogens destroy an estimated 15 to 30% of global harvests every year. Early detection can make the difference between a failed crop and a treatable one. Using an airborne science instrument developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, researchers have found that they can accurately spot the stealthy signs of a grape disease that inflicts billions of dollars in annual crop damage. The remote sensing technique could aid ground-based monitoring for this and other crops.

In a pair of new studies, researchers from JPL and Cornell University focused on a viral disease called GLRaV-3 (short for grapevine leafroll-associated virus complex 3). Primarily spread by insects, GLRaV-3 reduces yields and sours developing fruit, costing the U.S. wine and grape industry some $3 billion in damage and losses annually. It typically is detected by labor-intensive vine-by-vine scouting and expensive molecular testing.

The research team wanted to see if they could help growers identify GLRaV-3 infections early and from the air by using machine learning and NASA’s next-generation Airborne Visible/InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS-NG). The instrument’s optical sensor, which records the interaction of sunlight with chemical bonds, has been used to measure and monitor hazards such as wildfires, oil spills, greenhouse gases, and air pollution associated with volcanic eruptions.

A drone captured a grateful message written among grapevines by individuals with the wine industry who collaborated on the pathogen-spotting research in the Lodi, California, region.

 Credit: Aaron Lange/Lodi Winegrape Commission

It was during a 2020 campaign to map methane leaks in California that plant pathologist Dr. Katie Gold and her team seized the opportunity to pose a different question: Could AVIRIS-NG uncover undercover crop infection in one of the state’s most important grape-producing regions?

“Like humans, sick plants may not exhibit outward symptoms right away, making early detection the greatest challenge facing growers,” said Gold, an assistant professor at Cornell University and senior author of the new studies. In the case of grapevine leafroll virus, it can take up to a year before a vine betrays the telltale signs of infection, such as discolored foliage and stunted fruit. However, on the cellular level, stress is well underway before then, changing how sunlight interacts with plant tissue.

Aerial Advantage

Mounted in the belly of a research plane, AVIRIS-NG observed roughly 11,000 acres of vineyards in Lodi, California. The region – located in the heart of California’s Central Valley – is a major producer of the state’s premium wine grapes.

The team fed the observations into computer models they developed and trained to distinguish infection. To help check the results, industry collaborators scouted more than 300 acres of the vineyards from the ground for visible viral symptoms while collecting vine samples for molecular testing.

California: Spotting Wine Grape Disease From Skies


California: Spotting Wine Grape Disease From Skies

Aug. 4, 2023

Plant pathologist Katie Gold, an assistant professor at Cornell University, inspects diseased grapes in a field. Gold’s team used a JPL-developed instrument to detect infected crops from the air in one of California’s most important wine grape producing regions.

 Credit: Allison Usavage

In a case study, scientists detected the costly infection in cabernet sauvignon grapevines before they showed symptoms visible to the human eye.

Withering molds, root-rotting bacteria, viruses, and other plant pathogens destroy an estimated 15 to 30% of global harvests every year. Early detection can make the difference between a failed crop and a treatable one. Using an airborne science instrument developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, researchers have found that they can accurately spot the stealthy signs of a grape disease that inflicts billions of dollars in annual crop damage. The remote sensing technique could aid ground-based monitoring for this and other crops.

In a pair of new studies, researchers from JPL and Cornell University focused on a viral disease called GLRaV-3 (short for grapevine leafroll-associated virus complex 3). Primarily spread by insects, GLRaV-3 reduces yields and sours developing fruit, costing the U.S. wine and grape industry some $3 billion in damage and losses annually. It typically is detected by labor-intensive vine-by-vine scouting and expensive molecular testing.

The research team wanted to see if they could help growers identify GLRaV-3 infections early and from the air by using machine learning and NASA’s next-generation Airborne Visible/InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS-NG). The instrument’s optical sensor, which records the interaction of sunlight with chemical bonds, has been used to measure and monitor hazards such as wildfires, oil spills, greenhouse gases, and air pollution associated with volcanic eruptions.

A drone captured a grateful message written among grapevines by individuals with the wine industry who collaborated on the pathogen-spotting research in the Lodi, California, region.

 Credit: Aaron Lange/Lodi Winegrape Commission

It was during a 2020 campaign to map methane leaks in California that plant pathologist Dr. Katie Gold and her team seized the opportunity to pose a different question: Could AVIRIS-NG uncover undercover crop infection in one of the state’s most important grape-producing regions?

“Like humans, sick plants may not exhibit outward symptoms right away, making early detection the greatest challenge facing growers,” said Gold, an assistant professor at Cornell University and senior author of the new studies. In the case of grapevine leafroll virus, it can take up to a year before a vine betrays the telltale signs of infection, such as discolored foliage and stunted fruit. However, on the cellular level, stress is well underway before then, changing how sunlight interacts with plant tissue.

Aerial Advantage

Mounted in the belly of a research plane, AVIRIS-NG observed roughly 11,000 acres of vineyards in Lodi, California. The region – located in the heart of California’s Central Valley – is a major producer of the state’s premium wine grapes.

The team fed the observations into computer models they developed and trained to distinguish infection. To help check the results, industry collaborators scouted more than 300 acres of the vineyards from the ground for visible viral symptoms while collecting vine samples for molecular testing.

Gold noted it was a labor-intensive process, undertaken during a California heat wave. “Without the hard work of the growers, industry collaborators, and the scouting teams, none of what we accomplished would have been possible,” she said. Similar efforts will continue under the NASA Acres Consortium, of which Gold is a lead scientist.

The researchers found that they were able to differentiate non-infected and infected vines both before and after they became symptomatic, with the best-performing models achieving 87% accuracy. Successful early detection of GLRaV-3 could help provide grape growers up to a year’s warning to intervene.

In a complementary paper, the researchers said their case study shows how emerging capabilities in air and space can support ground-based pathogen surveillance efforts. These capabilities include forthcoming missions like NASA’s Surface Biology and Geology (SBG) – part of the fleet of missions that will compose the agency’s Earth System Observatory. They said that SBG will provide data that could be used in combination with machine learning for agricultural decision-making at the global scale.

Fernando Romero Galvan, a doctoral candidate and lead author of both studies, noted that sustainable farming practices are more important than ever in the face of climate change. “I think these are exciting times for remote sensing and plant disease detection,” he said. “Scalable solutions can help growers make data-driven, sustainable crop management decisions.”

“What we did with this study targets one area of California for one disease,” said co-author Ryan Pavlick, a research technologist at JPL. “The ultimate vision that we have is being able to do this across the planet for many crop diseases and for growers all over the world.”

News Media Contact

Jane J. Lee / Andrew Wang

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-354-0307 / 626-379-6874

jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov / andrew.wang@jpl.nasa.gov

Written by Sally Younger

2023-111

Australia: Biocontrol of weeds | Global Plant Protection News


Australia: Biocontrol of weeds

8 November 2023

Renewed focus on weed biocontrol through a collaborative initiative is set to deliver benefits to land managers and the environment in the fight against weeds.

The initial phase of implementing the National Weed Biocontrol Pipeline Strategy includes the drafting of a national priority list of candidate weeds for biological control.

Biological control, or biocontrol, is the practice of managing pests or weeds by introducing its ‘natural enemies’, such as insects and pathogens (known as biocontrol agents).

Australian Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer, Dr Bertie Hennecke, said the development of biocontrol capability is a complex process.

“Research into biocontrol can take years to complete, but by establishing a national priority list we can best direct investment to get the ball rolling,” Dr Hennecke said.

The Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS), partnering with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, Biosecurity Queensland – Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Agriculture Victoria, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, and Wild Matters will collectively lead the project.

The strategy (prepared by CSIRO and CISS) has been approved by the Environment and Invasives Committee, a subcommittee of the National Biosecurity Committee, and the initial phase of work is funded by the Australian Government with in-kind support from the states and territories, and research institutions.

​CISS CEO Andreas Glanznig said that weed biocontrol is a great investment in Australia’s landscapes, biodiversity, and agriculture.

“Previous research has shown that from an average annual investment of $4.3 million, Australia reaps annual benefits of $95.3 million,” Mr Glanznig said.

Senior Research Scientist at CSIRO Dr Michelle Rafter said biocontrol is an effective way to control weeds across the landscape.

“Modern science-based biocontrol is a sustainable, safe and cost-effective way to help control weeds at a landscape scale,” Dr Rafter said.

Weeds have a negative impact on Australia’s environment, livelihood, and agricultural productivity, with an overall average cost of nearly $5 billion across Australia each year. Biocontrol offers a way forward to potentially claw back some of this huge cost to Australia.

For more information, visit Weeds Australia.