Natural Pest Regulation on Orphan Crop Legumes in Africa (NaPROCLA)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Greenwich
Department Name: Natural Resources Institute, FES

Abstract

Population growth and associated rising food demands places increasing pressure on global food production, and by 2050 the world will need 60% more food than is available today with pressure on limited land area to produce adequate food sustainably while reducing chemical inputs. Severe pest damage of crops is one of the major challenges to food and nutritional security and disproportionately affects poor farmers and low-input orphan crop grain legumes such as beans, pigeon pea, cowpea and lablab. Pest control is often overlooked on orphan crop legumes, but any management of the pests is dependent on high agrochemical inputs which have negative impacts from exposure of users and consumers and where pesticides severely impact non-target invertebrates that can be beneficial to food production through pollination or natural pest regulation. Agricultural systems are ecologically complex and must function with natural habitats rather than deplete them. More resilient agriculture and focussed investments for smallholder farmers can deliver transformative change and enhance prospects and livelihoods of the world's poorest while safeguarding against future risks.

In Tanzania, Kenya and Malawi, legumes are grown and consumed by millions of farmers and their families providing protein, micronutrients and vitamins so represent one of the most important means to enhance nutritional security. East African poverty reduction strategy papers highlight that food poverty exceeds 18% in these countries and agriculture is central to reducing this livelihood gap. Yields of key legumes such as beans and cowpea are presently very low (500-700 kg/ha) but potential yields are >3000 kg/ha. Consequently, millions of farmers, particularly women (the primary growers of orphan legume crops in Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania), and their households have great potential to increase nutritional and food insecurity by improving production of legumes.

Biodiversity underpins agricultural ecosystem services and food security, livelihoods and economic development by provisioning natural enemies of crop pests. Natural enemies reduce populations of pest insects thereby reducing reliance on synthetic insecticide application. Through this saving their contribution in the US alone is reported to be $13.6 billion annually so the benefits of natural pest regulation can be measured in environmental and economic terms. Non-crop habitats such as field margins provide the environment with diverse food resources required to support arthropod predators and parasitoids. Management or manipulation of this non-crop habitat can help to support natural pest regulation and can even be augmented and sustained in better managed natural or manipulated agro-ecosystems. The occurrence, density and impacts of most beneficial insects in smallholder ecosystems, however, are poorly understood, particularly in Africa.

The research proposed here will take forward recent findings by our partnership and identify the key taxa that support and deliver natural pest regulation. We will develop approaches that support and augment natural pest regulation through improved agroecosystems management with reduced pesticide use. The proposed research will provide key evidence for benefits of natural pest regulation and establish how this can be optimised through better landscape management or manipulation and how natural pest regulation can function alongside other management practises including natural pest resistance, botanical insecticides and intercropping.

Technical Summary

Natural pest regulation provided by wild invertebrates in agriculture is dependent on flowering plants in field margins because these plants provide food as nectar or pollen or alternative insect hosts. There is surprisingly little information on the role of natural enemies in controlling pests on orphan legume species. We will evaluate how the diversity of beneficial insects for orphan crop legumes in East Africa (beans, cowpea, pigeon pea and lablab) is influenced by different management strategies (natural and biodiverse field margins, or engineered with key plant taxa). By manipulating field margins and implementing field trials of single and combined pest management strategies, we will build an evidence base for optimisation of natural pest regulation services. We will evaluate how they can integrate with other pest management approaches including host plant resistance and application of botanical insecticides.
Using field, station and laboratory experiments we will:
1. Identify the key natural enemy taxa specifically to black bean aphids (Aphis fabae) and legume pod borer (Maruca vitrata) using field surveys, cage trials and metabarcoding.
2. Evaluate impact of field margin management on abundance and diversity of natural enemies of the black bean aphid and legume pod borer and measure relationships between beneficial insect populations and crop damage/yield.
3. Map relationships between natural enemies and wild plants.
4. Evaluate the impact of integrating ecological engineering for natural enemies with other environmentally benign pest management (resistance/plant based pesticides) and yield boosting (e.g., inter-cropping legumes) management practices.
Evaluate whether these approaches differ in their efficacy when implemented in plant diverse versus depauperate landscapes.

Planned Impact

The project outcomes will benefit smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa growing orphan crop legumes, extension services, policy makers and scientists worldwide, and ultimately the wider public. Specifically, smallholder farmers in East Africa will benefit from i) a greater understanding of the value of agricultural ecosystems and knowledge about why reducing reliance on chemical inputs can benefit their farming system through lower impacts on beneficial insects; ii) novel and low-input low-cost approaches to manage pests sustainably; iii) greater nutritional and food security and iv) higher quality food products that will be healthier for consumers and potentially of higher market value. Extension services including government and non-government organisations will benefit from new and locally relevant knowledge that will inform extension and outreach programmes to better support farmers to grow food sustainably and reliably. Through training programmes and training tools we will provide extension services with all the information they require to disseminate information and evidence about the value of field margins for sustainable food security. We will engage with policy makers to ensure that they participate and are informed of progress from the project outset. We will provide the evidence and robust data required to be able to make informed decisions about government support for and investment in extension that supports sustainable intensification of agriculture by augmenting and managing agricultural ecosystems to deliver natural pest regulation. Through current interactions including engagement with IPBES and Defra's National Pollinator Strategy under PASG, NRI has experience producing publications tailored to impact policy at the international level: Gill et al. (2015) Adv Ecol Res, Vanbergen et al. (2013) Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. NRI produces a regular newsletter, the Resource, with global subscription from a range of academic, NGO and governmental sectors, disseminating details about the ongoing research work. NRI has a member of staff permanently seconded to the office of the APPG for Agriculture and Food for Development, allowing greater access to policymakers. The scientific community will benefit from the agricultural innovations and research outputs from this project that will include new information about ecosystem services of wider relevance to the field. All NRI project staff regularly attend and speak at conferences, and give invited lectures at other institutions; we will use these opportunities to share findings from this project with interested parties. The public will learn about the work on this project through outreach events both in the UK and in East Africa including through agricultural fairs. NRI staff regularly engage with the public in a variety of contexts as do our partners in East Africa to help improve awareness among farmers and the wider UK and African public about the importance of beneficial insects in sustainable food production and the global nature of food production and the importance of environmental issues regardless of origin. Project team members will inspire and influence young people through various outreach vehicles including the Inspiring the Future and Future First schemes connecting STEMM and business professionals with young people, and will speak to students in local schools about the results of this project and their importance as part of wider events to increase students' understanding of science careers. Research students at NRI and at our partner institutes will benefit from research-led teaching, including use of case studies in their course delivery. Findings from this project will serve as engaging examples for courses such as Integrated Pest Management and Ecology and Ecosystems. More sustainable management of farms in eastern Africa will support improved biodiversity in human influenced landscapes making agriculture more sustainable.

Publications

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Phambala K (2020) Bioactivity of Common Pesticidal Plants on Fall Armyworm Larvae (). in Plants (Basel, Switzerland)

 
Description We report how important field margins are to support natural enemies of pests and provide the plants required to make botanical extract for more environmentally benign control of pests in Legume cropping systems in East Africa.
Exploitation Route Inform how farmers manage farmland that is considerate of the needs of polliantors and natural enemies of pests - promote flower strips and mainainng field margins at least until the crop is harvested.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://agriculturalecosystems.org/projects/41-naprocla
 
Description Meeting with the All Party parliamentary Group on Bees
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Pollinator Advisory Steering Group - Defra
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact Changes to land management and influencing implementation of UK gov ies to address land use change.
 
Description Harnessing Agricultural Ecosystem Biodiversity for improved bean production in Africa 
Organisation University of Greenwich
Department Natural Resources Institute Greenwich
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Botanical, plant chemical and insect surveys
Collaborator Contribution Entomological Surveys and field experiments.
Impact Amoabeng, B., Stevenson, P.C., Mochiah, B., Asare, K.P., Gurr, G.M. (2020) Scope for non-crop plants to promote conservation biological control of crop pests and serve as sources of botanical insecticides. Scientific Reports, (accepted) Gemmill-Herren, B., Mtambanengw, F., Mapfumo, P., Herren, G.L., Masehela, T.S., Stevenson, P.C., Herren, J.K. (2020). Harnessing ecosystem services in transforming agriculture in Southern Africa (Book chapter) Mkenda, P.A. Ndakidemi, P.A., Stevenson, P.C., Arnold. SEJ, Darbyshire, I., Belmain, S.R., Priebe, J., Xie, G. Johnson, A.C., Tumbo, J., Gurr, G.M. 2020. Knowledge gaps among smallholder farmers hinder adoption of conservation biological control. Biocontrol Science and Technology, 30 (3), 256-277. Rioba N., and Stevenson, P.C. 2020. Opportunities and Scope for Botanical Extracts and Products for the Management of Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) for Smallholders in Africa. Plants. Phambala, K. Tembo, Y., Kasambala, T., Kabambe, VH, Stevenson P.C., Belmain, S.R. 2020 Bioactivity of common pesticidal plants on fall armyworm larvae (Spodoptera frugiperda) Plants 9, e112. Mkindi. AG., Tembo, YLB, Mbega, ER, Smith AK, Farrell IW, Ndakidemi, PA, Stevenson, PC, and Belmain, SR 2020. Extracts of Common Pesticidal Plants Increase Plant Growth and Yield in Common Bean Plants, Plants, 9, e149. Mkindi,A., Tembo, Y., Mbega, E, Kendall-Smith. A., Farrell, I.W., Ndakidemi, P., Belmain, S.R. and Stevenson, P.C. 2019 Phytochemical Analysis of Tephrosia vogelii across East Africa Reveals Three Chemotypes that Influence Its Use as a Pesticidal Plant, Plants 8, 597 Mkenda, P.A., Ndakidemi, P.A., Mbega, E., Stevenson, P.C., Arnold, S.E.J., Gurr G.M., and Belmain, S.R. 2019. Multiple ecosystem services from field margin and non-crop vegetation for ecological sustainability in agriculture. A meta-analysis. Peer J, 7: e8091 Mkenda, P.A., Ndakidemi, P.A., Stevenson, P.C., Arnold, SEJ, Xie, G., Belmain, S.R., Chidege, M., Gurr, G.M. 2019 Field margin vegetation is donor habitat for natural enemies of bean pests but field size mediates the extent of benefit. Sustainability, 11, 6399 Mkenda, PA, Ndakidemi, PA, Stevenson, PC, Arnold, SEJ, Belmain, SR, Chidege, M., Gurr, GM, Woolley, VC (2019) Characterization of Hymenopteran Parasitoids of Aphis fabae in an African Smallholder Bean Farming System through Sequencing of COI 'Mini-Barcodes' Insects, 10, 331. Elisante, F. Ndakidemi, P.A., Arnold, S.E.J., Belmain, S.R., Gurr, G.M., Darbyshire, I., Xie, G., Tumbo, J., and Stevenson, P.C. (2019) Knowledge Gaps on The Role Of Pollinators And Value Of Field Margins Among Smallholders In Bean Agri-Systems, Journal or Rural Studies, 70, 75-86 Tembo, Y., Mkindi, A., Mkenda, P., Mpumi, Mwanauta, R., Stevenson P.C., Ndakidemi, P. Belmain S.R, 2018) Pesticidal Plant Extracts Improve Yield and Reduce Insect Pests on Legume Crops without Harming Beneficial Arthropods. Frontiers in Plant Science, 9, 1425. Amoabeng, B.W., Stevenson, P.C., Pandey, S., Mochiah, M.B. & Gurr, G.M. (2018). Insecticidal activity of a native Australian tobacco, Nicotiana megalosiphon Van Heurck & Muell. Arg. (Solanales: Solanaceae) against key insect pests of brassicas. Crop Protection 106: 6-12.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Improved soft fruit pollination by bumblebees with caffeine BB/P007589/1 IPA Grant Awarded December 2016 Starts April 1st 2017 
Organisation National Institute of Agronomy and Botany (NIAB)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution PI with Natural Resources Institute University of Greenwich. Leading on laboratory behaviour assessment of the role of caffeine in the behaviour of commercial bumblebees
Collaborator Contribution Co-I (co authors and research collaborators). Undertaking field based work evaluating nest box adaptations on bees infield.
Impact None yet from the specific collaboration around improving pollination in strawberry but these are in preparation for submission.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Improved soft fruit pollination by bumblebees with caffeine BB/P007589/1 IPA Grant Awarded December 2016 Starts April 1st 2017 
Organisation University of Greenwich
Department Department of Pharmaceutical, Chemical & Environmental Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution PI with Natural Resources Institute University of Greenwich. Leading on laboratory behaviour assessment of the role of caffeine in the behaviour of commercial bumblebees
Collaborator Contribution Co-I (co authors and research collaborators). Undertaking field based work evaluating nest box adaptations on bees infield.
Impact None yet from the specific collaboration around improving pollination in strawberry but these are in preparation for submission.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Appearance on BBC All Over The Place CBBC TV 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Participated in a programme for CBBC and talked about Kew's and NRIs work on pollinators and bee diversity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Bees Needs Week outreach event in Carnaby Street with Defra 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Supporters
Results and Impact Outreach activity for Defras bees needs week showcasing UKRI funded work on nectar and pollen chemistry and pollaintor health.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description European Research Night at Natural History Museum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Controbution to NHM european research night talking about UKRI funded work on nectar chemistry and pollaintor health.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description HRH Prince CHarles patron of Kew visit and engagement. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I met with Prince Charles to discuss Kew's work on pollinators and discuss rewilding schemes and the importance of pollinator diversity for food security covering all UKRI projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited lecture - Canterbury Christ Church University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Around 30-40 students and CCCU staff attended an invited lecture associated with an undergraduate applied biology/ecology module. Dr Arnold presented work around the NaPROCLA project and previous/related actions, preliminary data, and the wider context/application of the project to demonstrate how ecological and biological theories can support work with real livelihood impacts. There was extensive discussion afterwards around the decolonialisation of development, the ecology of smallholder farms and the role of multiple ecosystem services in supporting smallholder crops.

There may be follow-up lectures/visits and reciprocal exchanges planned and there were discussions about presenting the work to a wider audience at a CCCU Ecology Research Group meeting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited lecture to IUmperial College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk to Imperial College London (Silwood Park)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Invited talk: Royal Entomological Society Postgraduate Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Around 35 postgraduate students from across the UK attended the meeting, which was about sharing experiences and science. Dr Arnold was one of the keynote speakers and the talk reflected on issues and opportunities around the current areas of research taking place. There was plenty of informal discussion and networking over the following day related to some of the key issues and potential new research directions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Kew Science Festival 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Kew science festival using various engagement tools to inform the public about the project and the conservation of pollinators for food security.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.kew.org/about-us/press-media/kew-science-festival-returns-for-2019
 
Description Kew Science festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Open day with display of pollinator oriented research and activities from Kew Gardens to draw attention to the challenges facing pollinators and the research being undertaken by Kew to address pollinator declines. Also drawing attention to pollaintor diversity
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.kew.org/about-our-organisation/press-media/press-releases/press-release-kew-science-fest...
 
Description Talk at Maidstone Horticultural Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Invited talk to a group of horticultural enthusiasts affiliated with RHS. Despite twin challenges of COVID-19 and appalling weather, around 30 people from a range of ages came to the talk, which covered general pollination issues but also presented the research carried out by project team on UKRI projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL http://www.maidstonehorticulturalsociety.org/programme/
 
Description Workshop in insect DNA barcoding (NMAIST and Egerton Univesrity) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Workshops were led at NMAIST (Tanzania) and Egerton University (Kenya) to teach students and staff moleular biology techniques. Approximately 20 students and staff attended each workshop. Follwing this, students reported that they were more confident in using moleulcar biology techniques in their research and some remain in touch to discuss how best to use these techniques.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019