Combine harvesters spread weedy rice

Picture copyright Gao et al.

Weedy rice is one of the worst weeds worldwide, capable of severely decreasing yield in rice fields. Scientists Gao et al. recently showed that combine harvesters are major agents of weedy rice seed dispersal within fields and across rice-growing areas. They recommend that fields severely infested with weedy rice should be harvested separately in order to avoid accumulation of weed seeds in the combine harvester and their subsequent dispersal.

Safeguarding the future of chocolate

Picture copyright Andres et al.

The sustainable supply of cocoa beans is at stake due to the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease, that has ravaged hundreds of millions of trees in West Africa. Scientists Andres et al. showed that farmers with better access to information, a larger farm, and more secure land tenure rights were more likely to adopt preventive measures against this disease. They recommend, therefore, to relay prevention information to Ghanaian cocoa farmers on local radio, TV stations or mobile devices to help limit the spread of the disease.

Willingness to pay for crop protection apps

Picture copyright Bonke et al.

Integrating smartphone apps into farmer’s decision process can facilitate sustainable crop protection. Scientists Bonke et al. studied the acceptance of crop protection apps from an economic perspective. Their results show that the large majority of German farmers are willing to pay for these apps and that, amongst others, the potential to reduce negative environmental effects and costs have a positive influence on this willingness to pay for such applications.

Biodiversity as a tool to manage weeds

Picture copyright Petit et al.

Weed management is a challenging issue in the context of pesticide reduction. Scientists Petit et al. recently reviewed several options for the biological regulation of arable weeds: weed – (cover) crop competition, weed seed granivory by invertebrates and weed interactions with pathogenic fungi. However, the understanding of these biodiversity-based options and their performance in weed biocontrol requires the implementation of farm-scale experimental trials in future.

Using synthetic chemicals against vine and citrus pest mealybugs

Picture copyright Antonio Biondi

Synthetic chemicals, which can be incorporated in either pesticides or insect sex pheromones, have been extensively used against vine and citrus pest mealybugs worldwide. Scientists Mansour et al. reviewed the current knowledge on mealybug control based on these synthetic chemicals. Mixing pheromones and insecticides with novel modes of action, long-lasting efficacy and less adverse side effects on beneficial arthropods is a promising strategy for pest management in vineyards and citrus orchards.

Boosting biological control for diamondback moth

Copyright Patrick Clement

Diamondback moth is a significant and economically important pest of cabbage family crops. Ecologists Gurr et al. review the biological control options for diamondback moth management as sustainable alternative to – or complementary to – insecticides. They show that landscapes with a diversity of vegetation types promote natural enemy species that improve biological control of diamondback moth. For example, woodlands serve as refuges from which natural enemies can efficiently recolonize nearby brassica crops

Poaceae species as a source of bioherbicides in Brazil

Picture copyright Favaretto et al.

The Poaceae family is the most ecologically dominant and the most economically important plant family, worldwide. It is also an important source for new molecules. Scientists Favaretto et al. reviewed allelopathy – i.e. plant growth suppression by another species due to toxic substances – in Poaceae species present in Brazil. They revealed that less than 3% of the Brazilian species have yet been studied. They advocated supplementary research on Poaceae allelochemicals with bioherbicide properties to promote sustainable agriculture.

Biological control against grapevine insect pests

Picture copyright Denis Thiery

Worldwide viticulture covers about 7.5 million ha and makes intensive use of pesticides The main insect pests threatening worldwide viticulture are currently two moth species. Scientists Thiery et al. critically reviewed the different options able to reduce or replace synthetic insecticide-based control. Very recent results promote the use of grassing and floral strips between the grape rows to increase pest control by spiders or parasitoid wasps. The production and release of such natural enemies have a great potential to render biological control strategies more efficient and reduce insecticide use in vineyards.