Breakthroughs in science and technology are helping overcome global food production challenges and changing the worlds’ agriculture. A new Centre for Applied Crop Science is ensuring the UK has the necessary capital needed to deliver a cutting edge platform to support agriculture in the UK and beyond. CABI is the lead partner in three main work strands namely: Novel control discovery and implementation, Collection of biotic crop pests, and Horizon scanning and international development.
Farmers face issues with insect pests that damage their crops. In Africa, cold storage facilities necessary for some biopesticides aren’t always available. As experts in this and crop management, we are working with Asymptote Ltd, a UK technology company, to develop an appropriate product for rural conditions in Africa, meaning African farmers will no longer have to rely on harmful chemical pesticides to protect their crops.
Robinson Crusoe Island, part of the Juan Fernández Archipelago in Chile, is under threat from invasive species. So action needs to be taken. As part of a larger management programme for the whole Archipelago, a team from CABI will help conserve and re-establish native species on the island. In the long term this project will provide the biological resources and protocols for replanting larger areas of land.
Invasion by the alien plant Madagascar rubbervine is endangering native flora and fauna in northeastern Brazil. In the Caatinga area, the endemic Carnaúba palm, with its highly valued wax, has come under threat. CABI, in collaboration with Brazilian counterparts, is seeking to evaluate the rust Maravalia cryptostegia as a potential biocontrol agent for Madagascar rubbervine. The same rust has been used in Australia to successfully control another invasive alien rubbervine species.
Jatropha gossypiifolia (bellyache bush) is a major invasive plant in northern Australia. Previous biocontrol efforts have focused on insects but the Australian Government is now also keen to explore fungal pathogens. As experts, CABI is carrying out safety and efficacy experiments with the rust pathogen Phakopsora arthuriana using a strain originating from Trinidad. Results will help the Australian authorities decide whether this rust is suitable for biocontrol of J. gossypiifolia in Australia.
Agriculture is very important to China and chemical pesticides are often used to control their associated pests. Biopesticides, which have a low impact on surrounding plants and the environment can be used instead and China wants to switch over to them. Using CABI’s expertise, this project uses Earth Observation (EO) and other data to build a prototype system that provides information on locust control in China.