“Several farmers attended the opening ceremony, including one who had travelled over 20 kilometers by bus and rickshaw to find out what was stunting the growth of his bitter gourd vines,” says Wick, a professor of plant pathology who secured funding for the clinic from the U.S.D.A. Foreign Agricultural Service. “Clearly, they were desperate for ways to increase their crop yields.”
A significant part of the problem is that an estimated 20 percent of the crops grown in Bangladesh are lost to insect pests and diseases before they reach the table. Increasing the amount of land used for agriculture won’t solve the problem. “Most of the arable land is already under crop production, and in some cases, a single plot of land produces up to three crops each year,” says Wick. “Increases in food production will come from using high-yield cultivars and the management of pests and weeds.”
Through the clinic, farmers and extension agents finally have a way to positively identify hundreds of plant diseases caused by microorganisms, instead of relying on visual inspections, which are often inaccurate. Farmers will be able to bring plant samples to the clinic, and the staff will use culturing techniques and microscopes to identify which fungus, bacteria or virus is causing the problem. The clinic will also identify insect pests, and provide information on nutrient deficiencies and their causes.
After receiving a diagnosis, farmers will be advised on the best management practices for controlling their particular problem, which will protect their health and the health of the environment by reducing pesticide use.
“Right now, farmers in Bangladesh believe that a prescription for pesticides will solve their crop problems, but this won’t help if the damage stems from bacteria or a plant virus,” says Wick. “At the clinic, they will be told how to manage crops in an environmentally friendly way, using cultural methods like weeding, rotating crops and trapping pests.”
According to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the average pesticide application rate in Bangladesh is currently 1.36 kilograms per hectare, which is equivalent to roughly 2.5 acres. This exceeds the recommended environmentally safe rate of 0.98 kilograms per hectare. Most of the pesticides are being used on rice crops, a situation that has led to water quality problems and the death of fish. Clinic staff will also educate farmers on the safe use of pesticides.
Although recently opened, the center has an ambitious agenda. In addition to helping farmers increase their crop yields and financial security, the center will educate extension specialists and students by offering workshops. Wick taught diagnostic plant pathology in Bangladesh as a Fulbright Scholar in 2006.
The clinic can also provide a quality control center for certifying that plants for export are free of pathogens, identify important or emerging problems that require investigation, and develop a historic record of the occurrence of plant diseases.
Eventually, the team hopes to establish clinics in each of the six districts of Bangladesh, similar to the plant disease clinics found at land grant universities in each state in the U.S.
New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine