BioSpace: Using space-enabled remote sensing to deliver long term sustainable growth of biopesticide use

Lead Research Organisation: CAB International
Department Name: Egham Office

Abstract

Pests and diseases cause significant losses of crops around the world and is a significant threat to food security. In China the migratory locust affects over 2 million hectares of agricultural land, while in Laos the yellow spined bamboo locust which is widespread across the 9 districts of Norther Laos and damaged over 5,000 hectares of crops in 2019. A new invasive pest, the Fall Army Worm is becoming prevalent in Southeast Asia and China. It has been found in 22 provinces in China and affected 35,000 hectares of maize in Laos. Experience from Africa shows it can cause almost total crop losses. Managing the damage from pests can be difficult due to lack of detailed information on where risks to crops are greatest, use of inappropriate or ineffective control measures, and build of resistance in pest populations to chemical pesticides. In addition overuse of chemical pesticides causes environmental damage in the form of loss of biodiversity and through chemical residues left in the environment, particularly in waterways. In this project we will use Earth observation and meteorological data to provide information that will help farmers and agricultural authorities manage pest risk more sustainably. Using Earth observation imagery we will prepare risk maps that identify habitats where locusts and fall armyworm are most likely to establish populations. Using satellite data on surface temperature we will develop and run models that predict i) the growth of insect populations and ii) the effectiveness of biological control methods. The models will provide information to help preparedness and to guide the timing of application of biopesticides. The project will build upon work already undertaken in North-East China and apply it in the Southern Chinese province of Hainan, and in Laos. We will provide risk base maps and information products that help chose the method and timing of interventions. We will work with agricultural management authorities in China and Laos, providing training in the use of the information.

Planned Impact

The ultimate aim of this project is twofold: 1. to reduce hunger by promoting sustainable and resilient agriculture and 2. promote sustainable production and consumption by promoting biopesticides and sound management of chemical pesticides. The main benefactors of these aims is ultimately the farmers/subsistence farmers in China and Laos. By developing models that predict the risk of pest attack, in this case FAW and YSBL, early detection and control can take place. This has two outputs 1. resources, i.e. extension works, spray equipment and pesticides, can be sent to the high alert regions and 2. for locusts, if detected early enough, biopesticides can be applied reducing the chemical pesticide inputs and hence resulting in less environmental damage and reducing residues in food, which benefits consumers by enhancing the quality of life, health and well being. Farmers would be able to sell better quality crops enhancing the quality of their lives.
The Chinese Government will also benefit from this research by getting access to pest risk reports produced by RADI. These reports will help to enhance local, regional, national bodies of the government to help decide when to target pest control and help NATESC to be more effective in their challenging role to control many different pests throughout China.
NATESC, and potentially other locust control bodies in Laos, will benefit from the Biopesticide App. The app will inform the user if there is time for a biopesticide to control locusts before they reach adults (which is when they fly to crops and cause most damage). this helps to reduce the amount of chemical pesticides applied.
Through a presentation at the NATESC yearly national locust control conference it is envisaged that it will encourage the update of biopesticides throughout the many NATESC locations. Currently we are working with one NATESC branch however by talking at their national conference we can promote biopesticide use and the biopesticide app to a far wider audience. This will contribute to environmental sustainability.
With the development of the biopesticide app in China it is hoped that a commercial product may be developed to sell internationally. This could benefit Australia, many countries in Africa, Asia and the America's that experience locust outbreaks while also impacting on the success of the commercial company.

Publications

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