Homemade Sprays for Fighting Aphids

Homemade remedies are a longstanding tradition among organic gardeners, who have had to be creative in finding ways to battle insects and diseases without the help of synthetic chemicals. In the case of fighting aphids, or plant lice, two homemade sprays have proven very effective in controlling aphid infestations: tomato leaf spray or garlic oil spray. While knowing how to make and use them is important, it’s equally important to understand why they work.

By Colleen Vanderlinden

Tomato Leaf Spray

Tomato plants, as members of the nightshade family, contain toxic compounds called alkaloids in their leaves. When the leaves of tomato plants are chopped, they release their alkaloids. When the alkaloids are suspended and diluted with water, they make an easy-to-use spray that is toxic to aphids, but still safe around plants and humans.

To make tomato leaf spray, simply chop one or two cups of tomato leaves and soak them in two cups of water. Let it steep overnight. Strain out the leaves using cheesecloth or a fine strainer, then add another one to two cups of water to the liquid and add it to a spray bottle.

To use the mixture, spray the stems and foliage of the infested plant and pay particular attention to the undersides of leaves since that is where aphids most commonly congregate. One word of caution, while this spray is safe for humans, some people are allergic to nightshade plants and tomatoes. If you are sensitive to nightshade plants, use care in making and applying this spray.

Homemade sprays for fighting aphids

Garlic Oil Spray

Organic gardeners have long relied on garlic as part of their pest-fighting arsenal. Garlic contains sulfur, which, besides being toxic to pests, is also an antibacterial and antifungal agent. The dish soap in this mixture also breaks down the bodies of soft-bodied pests like aphids.

To make garlic oil spray, mince, or finely chop three to four cloves of garlic, and add them to two teaspoons of mineral oil. Let this mixture sit for 24 hours. Strain out the garlic pieces, and add the remaining liquid to one pint of water. Add one teaspoon of liquid dish soap. This mixture can be stored and diluted as needed.

Before using this spray test it by spraying an inconspicuous part of the plant. If there are no signs of yellowing or other leaf damage after a day or two, it is safe to use. If there is leaf damage, dilute the mixture with more water and try the test again. Once you have determined that it will not harm your plant, spray the entire plant, paying particular attention to the undersides of leaves.

A word of caution about this spray, garlic oil is a non-selective insecticide. It will kill beneficial insects (such as ladybugs, which are natural predators of aphids) just as easily as it kills the bad guys. It is best to keep as many beneficial insects around as possible. This spray should only be used if you have not seen any beneficial bugs in your garden. Otherwise, you should use the tomato leaf recipe, which will not harm beneficial bugs.

Other Natural Methods of Aphid Removal

Sometimes, a strong blast of water from the hose will knock the aphids off of a plant and solve the problem. Just make sure the water is not too strong that it uproots the plant or overwaters it.

Try to attract beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings, parasitic wasps, or damsel bugs to your garden. They will attack the aphids. Plant mint, fennel, dill, yarrow, and dandelions to attract these beneficial predators to your garden.

Source: https://www.thespruce.com/homemade-sprays-for-fighting-aphids-2539831

Organic Mealybug Control Indoors and Out

[ads_dropcap]T[/ads_dropcap]hey may look like little fluffy cotton balls with legs, but the damage mealybugs can do on houseplants and in the outdoor garden is serious. Mealybugs, a cousin to other garden pests like scale and whiteflies, can damage many flowering and ornamental plants by direct feeding and by introducing diseases into the garden. Organic gardeners can control this pest in several ways without resorting to toxic pesticides.

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Identify Mealybugs and Mealybug Damage

Mealybugs are tiny insects, about 1/8 inch in length, but their color and clustering habit make mealybugs easy to find on garden plants. Most common mealybug species are white, and have waxy looking filaments covering their bodies, giving them a fuzzy or hairy appearance. An exception is the hibiscus mealybug, which is pinkish-brown and lacks the fringe.What plants to mealybugs like to feed on? Many of our favorite houseplants are susceptible to mealybug infestations, including gardenias, jade plants, ficus trees, English ivy, hoya, and palms. In the outdoor garden, watch for mealybugs on coleus, begonias, Gerbera daisies, marigolds, and chrysanthemums. Any plant that has experienced high nitrogen levels from over-fertilization will be especially appealing to the pests.

Mealybugs feed on garden plants by inserting their sharp mouthparts into the leaves and stems to suck sap. Damaged leaves look wrinkled or puckered, and the insects can contaminate cut flowers with webby egg sacs and clusters of larvae. The honeydew mealybugs excrete compounds the damage, as it harbors black sooty mold and encourages the growth of plant viruses.

Deal With Small Mealybug Outbreaks

You can manage small mealybug infestations with a simple blast of water. Use a plain jet of water to disrupt the bugs’ feeding, and spray plants with neem oil to discourage the bugs from coming back. Neem oil spray will not affect bees, making it ideal for the pollinator-friendly landscape.

Integrated Pest Management for Mealybugs

Several species of parasitic wasps prey on mealybugs, so flower gardeners should attract these predators with nectar rich plantings of yarrow, sweet alyssum, and bee balm. Lacewings and pirate bugs also feed on mealybugs, so gardeners should be aware of the possibility of damaging these pests with insect spray, even if the spray is organic.

The honeydew mealybugs exude attracts ants, which aren’t pests themselves, but protect mealybugs from natural predators. Planting common vetch as a cover crop can draw ants away from mealybugs by providing a supplemental nectar source. Gardeners can also discourage ant colonies by tilling the surface of the soil to disrupt nests.

Biological Pest Control for Mealybugs

Organic gardeners have at least two commercial options for biological mealybug control. The ladybug species Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, commonly called the mealybug destroyer, feeds voraciously on mealybugs at all stages of development. In fact, gardeners must take care not to mistake this beneficial insect for a pest, as the larvae of this ladybug resemble mealybugs. Gardeners can order adult mealybug destroyers to release during periods of high infestation, and this ladybug will feed on other garden pests like aphids or thrips when the mealybugs are gone.

Gardeners can use the OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) approved insect-killing fungus marketed under the trade name Mycotrol, which contains spores of Beauveria bassiana. Gardeners can use this product until the day of harvest for cut flowers, as it’s safe for people, animals, and the environment.

Organic Sprays for Mealybugs

As soft bodied insect pests, mealybugs are susceptible to insect soap sprays. Gardeners must spray mealybugs directly with the insect soap to disrupt the cell membrane and kill the insects, so this spray doesn’t work as a preventative agent. Insect soap is a short-acting spray, and you must reapply weekly for as long as the pests are active. The biggest drawback of insect soaps is their potential to damage or burn plants. To reduce plant toxicity, spray plants in the evening and spray them with water in the morning, as high temperatures and sunlight increase plant damage from insect soap.

Mealybugs on Houseplants

Mealybugs and their nymphs thrive in greenhouses, making this insect pest common on houseplants. Orchids are particularly susceptible to damage and death from mealybug infestations. Isolate new houseplants for one week before placing them around other houseplants. Inspect the plants each day for signs of white mealybugs or their webbing, and kill any insects with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Source: https://www.thespruce.com/organic-mealybug-control-1316088

Moringa -A precious tree crop

Every plant has useful characteristics which Allah has inserted in it. Some tree crops are of much value because its every part (leaves, stem, seeds, roots) has equal worth and moringa is among those plants. In science, it is called Moringa oleifera.  

[ads_row][ads_col col=”cell”]Authors[/ads_col][ads_col col=”cell”]Mujahid Ali, Dr. Zahoor Hussain (Horticulture, UOS)[/ads_col][/ads_row]

In Urdu, it is called Sohanjna. It belongs to family Moringaceae.  Its origin is reported in Indo-Pak regions. It is used as a vegetable. Moringa plant has extraordinary uses in herbal medicine and in allelopathy. This plant is used for centuries due to its nutritional aspects. Himalayan region is famous for its wild cultivation. It is settled in tropical and subtropical areas in the word.

Now comes towards it propagation. It is propagated both sexually and asexually. By asexual propagation, it means stem cuttings are used for propagation purpose so mature stems or branches are used. There are different steps i.e., initially, we take a mature stem or branch of about six feet long and two inches thick.  Then insert two third part of cutting in soil, sand and compost preferably green manure and affirm the cutting from the base to avoid shaking. Provide proper moisture conditions. There is another way that through sexual propagation means through seeds. One of the advantages of seed is that naturally, it has no dormancy. We can sow it nursery and trays can also be used. Its seed germination is up to 90-100 percent. For moringa cultivation light sandy loam and well-drained soils are considered best. Waterlogging and high rainfall are dangerous for it.

Let’s move towards its health benefits. Moringa seed oils are beneficial for our skin and hair growth. This oil has agents for detoxify free radicals and have the hydrating ability for skin and hair. Its oil has protein contents that make it more beneficial. It is helpful in treating skin infection sores.

For curing edema is always being a problem when fluids rise in some tissues. Due to its anti-inflammatory characteristics, it is helpful in this regard. The liver is our sensitive internal organ in the body. Its protection and repair against anti-tubercular drugs are giving moringa a pride.

Moringa has found its importance in the treatment of cancer as it has a compound named niazimicin a precious chemical in checking cancer cells from further damage. There are various stomach disorders which our body face. Extracts of moringa is found useful in curing constipation gastritis, and ulcerative colitis. It has the capability to destroy numerous pathogens and have a sufficient amount of vitamin B.

Our body is always facing complaints of bacterial and fungal diseases. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties to cope with it. Some elements like Ca and P are responsible for bone health.  Moringa plants have rich in these elements making bone strong and curing arthritis.

Moringa is useful in controlling some of our mood characters or feeling like depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Moringa contains such antioxidants which give heart protection from damage and maintain our cardiovascular system. It helps to heal and save to make scars sign at a spot of wounds.

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Moringa use has shown to reduce glucose level in the blood making it useful for diabetic’s patients and give urine a normal condition. Enhance hemoglobin and protein level in the body.

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Its extract is very supportive in treating asthma and save our bronchial construction. It has very low fat and cholesterol making it safe for our health. Moringa has anti-fertility qualities and is, therefore, avoid its use by pregnant women. There have been very rare side effects stated. So, we should consult it in severe conditions and use it according to doctor advice.

Due to unique chemistry of compounds in the extract of moringa, it is popular in horticulture as medicinal and vegetable, agronomy and forestry. The government should encourage its cultivation and conduct seminars for its public awareness.

Feeding the growth of the food and beverage industry

[tds_info]Feeding the growth of the food and beverage industry: The UK food and drink industry faces challenges that will reshape the future of a sector which is fundamental to the economy[/tds_info]

 

The development of the UK’s food system since the Second World War is in many ways a story of unqualified success. Policies in the post-war decades to increase production and liberalise trade have meant the vast majority of the population can access high-quality, low-cost and safe food at a time and a place that suits them. 

[tds_council]In the process, the sector has developed into a key pillar of the UK’s economy. Food and drink is the country’s largest manufacturing sector accounting for 16 per cent of total manufacturing turnover and providing employment for more than 400,000 people, according to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).[/tds_council]

The food industry is seen as having huge potential for future growth. The FDF is five years into a plan to grow the manufacturing sector by 20 per cent up to 2020, while analysts at IGD forecast the UK grocery retail market will reach £203 billion by 2019, up more than 16 per cent from 2014. 

UNPRECEDENTED CHANGE

Perhaps more than in any other post-war era, the past ten years have seen a fundamental reshaping of the food industry as changes in consumer demand, the rapid adoption of new technologies, and emerging social and environmental challenges have placed fresh demands on businesses operating across the entire supply chain. 

These changes have arguably been felt most acutely in the retail sector where the growth of online shopping, in particular, has forced supermarkets to rethink business models built around large bricks-and-mortar estates. With IGD predicting online to be the fastest-growing grocery channel between 2014 and 2019, competition is set to remain fierce, even more so following the recent arrival of Amazon into the online grocery space. 

The hegemony of the big supermarkets has also been threatened by the emergence of discount grocers, most notably Aldi and Lidl, whose popularity has soared as consumers are attracted by their keen prices, tight ranges and good-quality produce. 

02 Rapid growth of discount grocers Lidl and Aldi have forced the Big Four supermarkets into an ongoing price war
Rapid growth of discount grocers Lidl and Aldi have forced the Big Four supermarkets into an ongoing price war

The growth of the discounters has resulted in the waging of a seemingly perpetual price war between UK grocery retailers that has had a knock-on effect along the supply chain with margins squeezed and even well-known brands facing the threat of delisting. 

A number of British manufacturers have sought to strengthen their balance sheets either through acquisitions or by inviting inward investment from countries such as China. Others have looked to spread their risk by building a successful export business with entrepreneurial companies such as Innocent, Dorset Cereals and Ella’s Kitchen enjoying growing demand for their products overseas. 

[ads-quote-center cite=’agrinfobank’]There has been consolidation too in the wholesale sector with major players like Booker acquiring smaller rivals in a bid to achieve greater economies of scale and provide better deals to independent retailers.[/ads-quote-center]

The indies have themselves responded to the rapid expansion into the convenience sector of the big supermarkets by widening their ranges and introducing in-store services such as parcel collection. 

The UK foodservice sector, meanwhile, is changing out of all recognition as disruptive players such as Just Eat and Deliveroo remove some of the barriers to eating out and in the process drive significant growth in the sector. 

how manufacturers feel about the future

FOOD PRODUCTION

Farmers continue to feel the pressure from volatile commodity prices, particularly in dairy, where British producers are increasingly exposed to global market forces. One response from farmers has been to develop their own added-value products thus allowing them to achieve a greater margin. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union means farmers face an even more uncertain future while they wait to learn how subsidy payments currently received from the EU will be replaced, if at all. 

In our dynamic, fast-growing food sector, a number of challenges have emerged that threaten the future sustainability of the food system. The relatively low cost of food has contributed to a situation where UK households throw away seven million tonnes of food every year, according to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign. Smarter packaging, which extends the shelf life of produce, offers one potential solution, but businesses agree that real progress on food waste will require collaborative action throughout the entire supply chain. 

[tds_warning]Consumption habits will need to change if we are to leave behind the legacy of a healthy, sustainable food system for future generations[/tds_warning]

A health time bomb has emerged in the form of the billion-plus people worldwide categorised as obese as a consequence of more sedentary lifestyles and a shift in Western diets towards more nutrient dense convenience foods. In the UK, the government considers the situation so serious it has set out plans to introduce a tax on sugary soft drinks to help curb consumption. 

where growth will come from

Awareness is also growing of the environmental impact of food production, with negative externalities ranging from the high greenhouse gas emissions involved in meat production to the effect on soil fertility of modern intensive farming methods. As well as technological fixes, such as the development of new precision farming methods aimed at maximising the use of scarce natural resources, there is a growing acknowledgment that consumption habits will need to change if we are to leave behind the legacy of a healthy, sustainable food system for future generations. 

All of this means that, both by design and by necessity, the food systems of the future will look very different from those of the past and the present. 

GM debate reaches deadlock

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GM debate reaches deadlock: Opinion on genetically modified foods remains divided, but can such agricultural technology help to avoid widespread and imminent famine?

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GM is everywhere – not in the sense of fields and foods, but in public debate and the press. 

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been championed in the fight against the threatened “banana apocalypse” by fungal diseases, but challenged on safety grounds by the Norwegian government. 

Engineered to help tackle vitamin-A deficiency, “golden rice” has been heralded as both a potential lifesaver by Danish author Bjørn Lomborg and a hoax by Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva. 

Biotech giant Monsanto has been seen holding open-house on the social networking website reddit, but heard under attack on the new album by Neil Young. Like it or loathe it, you cannot ignore it – GM makes news. 

Top 5 areas of biotech crops in 2014

However, to have the issue front and centre in the agriculture and food debate is more hindrance than help, argues Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association

“GM is a huge distraction. At best, pro-GM campaigners claim they have a solution to one or two problems,” he says. “The technology cannot deliver integrated solutions to the range of challenges facing farming – climate change, hunger, loss of wildlife, poor animal welfare, soil degradation, and all other environmental and human problems caused by industrial agriculture.” 

This tendency of GM to hog the public agenda is also a source of frustration for Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank. “The thing that happens when you are talking about GMOs is the issue itself takes up all the oxygen in the room,” she says. 

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What troubles her more, though, is lack of progress. “My concern is that investment and research into GMOs has been going on for more than 20 years now and we still have about a billion people hungry,” she says. “We are still grappling with the same challenges we were grappling with 40 years ago. GMOs haven’t lived up to their promises.”

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One key media battleground at present is the issue of the use of chemicals, with a case for GM made by Professor Jonathan Jones, of the Sainsbury Laboratory, in Norwich. He points out: “Already, there has been a vast reduction in insecticide applications worldwide. Over 400,000 tons of insecticide – nerve poisons – have not been applied thanks to GM.” 

While Professor Jones acknowledges that usage totals for certain herbicides have gone up, particularly glyphosate, (a hot topic at present, with its own hashtag in hourly use on Twitter), he suggests this is because of their being substituted in place of what he describes as “nastier” alternatives. 

Forecasting reductions in fungicide applications from next year, when the potato blight resistance gene he cloned is deployed commercially in the United States, Professor Jones also tips Brazil for the country to watch, as biotech inputs begin eating into $1 billion-worth of fungicide applications used annually to control soybean rust. 

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This has to move to being an issue of social justice or the poorest of the poor will continue to suffer needlessly. An important general point is that GM is just a method, not a thing, and it can be deployed to address many different agricultural problems, but only if there is a cost-effective business model for either private or public-sector actors.

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He is at pains to place GM in context. “An important general point is that GM is just a method, not a thing, and it can be deployed to address many different agricultural problems, but only if there is a cost-effective business model for either private or public-sector actors,” he says. 

For Rich Kottmeyer, senior vice president at Cheetah Development, getting the numbers to add up constitutes the day job, working to make smallholders investible. Mr Kottmeyer contends it is not just a matter of the total global shortfall in future food production that makes GM a must-have, but how the figures break down geographically. “Productivity gains are very uneven,” he says. “Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to reach only 13 per cent of food needs. If we don’t use all tools and techniques, we must be comfortable with an outcome of hunger and malnutrition that could have been prevented.” 

In Mr Kottmeyer’s analysis, willingness to embrace modern practices, including GMO, approaches a moral imperative. “The gap between agricultural ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is astonishing. Data clearly shows that it is the poor smallholder farmer that suffers the most from a lack of technology access,” he says. 

“Ironically, the hungry bear the brunt of the fight and have little voice. This has to move to being an issue of social justice or the poorest of the poor will continue to suffer needlessly.” 

For Ms Nierenberg, though, GM is part of an ag-tech image problem. “When people think technology, they think GM and they can’t think anything else. It makes technology seem bad and technology isn’t bad in agriculture,” she says. “If we are concerned about figuring out the challenges – whether climate change, hunger or protecting the environment – we need technology to do that.” 

Biotech crops factfile

The debate about the urgent need for technology in agriculture is perhaps strongest in relation to Africa, where food insecurity is highest and GM slow to gain acceptance. 

Reality for the have-nots there is stark, concludes Richard Munang, Co-ordinator of the United Nations’ African regional climate change programme. “In Africa, the major vulnerability is climate driven – 25 per cent go to bed hungry, more than 200 million suffer chronic to severe malnutrition, which also accounts for over 50 per cent infant mortality,” says Dr Munang. 

“In the face of climate change, 11 to 40 per cent declines in productivity of key staple foods in the continent are projected, implying a 25 to 90 per cent increase in the undernourished by 2050.” 

Led by the UN Environment Programme and acknowledged by the African Union, the call is for policies of ecosystem-based adaptation. The role for GM is still up for negotiation, backed by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, but facing political resistance and public unease. 

With strong opinions across continents both for and against GMOs, media controversy is seldom far away. In the face of an impending global food crisis, healthy debate about the future role of technology in sustainable agriculture is desirable, even essential. However, associated delay and disruption is not. 

Against the clock, the question to ask is not perhaps whether GM is the answer, but whether GM is the question. 

Growing yields in agri-investments

Agri-investments: Sometimes seen as an alternative – rather than mainstream – investment, agriculture is tipped as a profitable place for investors to put their money

Food is one of our most basic needs and agriculture has been central to human existence for thousands of years, yet the sector has always been curiously under-represented in investment portfolios. 

Even today many parts of the agricultural value chain, such as farmland, are seen as alternative investments, while many investors steer clear of investing in commodities because of their volatility. 

“Agriculture is a subject little understood by investors,” says Hélyette Geman, author of Agricultural Finance: From Crops to Land, Water and Infrastructure. “For academics in finance, it does not sound very glamorous and research in the field is scarce and belongs to economists.” 

Henry Boucher, manager of Sarasin’s food and agriculture opportunities fund, agrees. “It is a bit of a Cinderella sector. People think it’s both boring and prone to price volatility,” he says. 

Because of the volatility of commodity prices, it is easy to get caught out by chasing short-term price movements, but if you identify the long-term drivers, the sector offers real opportunities. These are not always obvious, however. 

For example, Mr Boucher identifies electrification and the roll-out of infrastructure in emerging markets as two key factors for investors to consider. “Electrification has a huge impact on diet. If you have electricity, it’s suddenly worth going to a supermarket,” he says. “If you don’t have a fridge, there’s no point buying Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. And the arrival of rail can transform the viability of agricultural land.” 

Growing yields in agri-investments

The longer-term future for agriculture and food is positive, says Roddy McLean, director for agriculture at RBS and NatWest. “We have all heard that global population will increase from seven billion to nine billion by the middle of this century,” he says. “Demand for food will increase faster than this as eating habits in developing countries change from a vegetable diet to sourcing their protein from milk products then to white meat [pig and poultry] to red meat. As you move through these dietary changes more land is required to produce the necessary food.” 

Cedric Lecamp, senior investment manager of the agriculture fund at Swiss investment firm Pictet, adds that health and nutrition is now a key focus for the sector. 

“The importance of the focus on health and nutrition is that it highlights that certain products and ingredients can be beneficial, while others are detrimental. There are exciting opportunities looking at the nutritional aspects of food,” he says. 

“Fish is a very exciting area, for example. Technological developments mean that producers can use less food, making it possible to replace wild fishing with fish farming.” 

Pictet, which has been running an agriculture fund since 2009, invests throughout the value chain, splitting the investment universe into three segments – upstream, midstream and downstream. 

Upstream includes inputs to agriculture, such as seeds, fertiliser, machinery and technology for new areas such as precision agriculture. Midstream is food production, including meat, fish, animal feed and dairy, while downstream is the food processing industry. 

Focusing on all three areas helps to smooth the volatility of the sector, explains Mr Lecamp, because the upstream sector does well if raw material prices are high, while downstream companies tend to perform better when prices are low. 

“The upstream companies are positively correlated to prices. If the price of corn goes up, farm incomes go up and farmers spend more money,” he says. “But as you go downstream, the relationship to prices switches. Processors have significant fixed assets so they do best when harvests are good. Good harvests mean they can run at full capacity and also have the effect of pushing prices lower.” 

Both Pictet and Sarasin have a strong focus on environmental factors that informs their investment strategies. This leads Pictet to invest only in sustainable palm oil companies and to focus on issues such as packaging, Mr Lecamp says. 

“The amount of waste created in the agricultural world is huge, both on farms and downstream. Experts suggest that 30 to 50 per cent of agricultural produce is wasted. The value of that is huge and the further towards the consumer you move, the more value has been added to a product and the higher the cost of that waste. 

The pressures caused by climate change and resource scarcity will benefit one sector in agriculture in particular – technology

“We look at ways to improve the shelf life of produce, such as breathable films or recyclable materials,” he adds. 

Climate change is now a real risk for the sector, Mr Boucher points out. “Climate change is still very low on many investors’ agenda, but we pay a great deal of attention to it. Many people will wake up to the risks with a jolt before too long,” he says. “The idea that agriculture could pollute its way to higher productivity cannot go on for ever. There are real issues around monoculture and agriculture will come under massive pressure to use less water in future.” 

The pressures caused by climate change and resource scarcity will benefit one sector in agriculture in particular – technology. “The agriculture sector will have to produce more food with less water, way fewer chemicals and with less impact on biodiversity,” Mr Boucher says. 

This trend will benefit companies such as John Deere and Agco, makers of farm machinery, seed companies such as Syngenta and Monsanto, and those that offer equipment related to precision farming techniques such as drip irrigation or supply chain management. 

“The agricultural and food industry in the UK has changed beyond recognition over the past decade thanks to the growing influence of technology. There have been major developments in both machinery on the farm and the IT systems which help streamline the business processes,” says Robert Frost, chief executive of Linkfresh, a provider of supply chain software technology for the food industry. “As the digital revolution continues, technology and IT is a major area of investment for the food industry.” 

The other key requirement for farming is farmland, and it too can be a very good investment. “Over the decade to 2014, an apartment in the most exclusive part of Mayfair produced a 177 per cent return, while UK farmland returned 277 per cent,” says Ms Geman. 

“Land is not made any more, in fact it is probably a diminishing resource due to infrastructure projects, building houses, erosion and, in some parts of the globe, desertification salinisation,” adds Mr McLean. “But if land is looked after properly, it tends not to wear out like many other investments. The current price of land of £8,000 to £20,000 per acre will in all probability appear cheap in two generations time.” 

Linking food and energy to save water

Linking food and energy to save water: The interdependence of water, energy and food resources requires co-ordinated policies and improved management

The United Nations forecasts that almost half the world’s population will be living in high water stress areas by 2030, while it has become increasingly apparent water management cannot be looked at in isolation as changes in one system affect others. 

Lisa Walker, chief executive of Ecosphere+, explains: “Essentially, it’s about competition for natural capital – animals and crops, water to feed them, as well as water for bio or hydro energy, mining, oil and gas production, agriculture and cities. The amount of water on Earth has always remained the same, but increasing population has raised demand for food and energy hugely, and both are thirsty.” 

A case in point is food consumption. Land, water, and energy are needed to produce food and, as food requirements increase, so does demand for these factors. Food production doesn’t merely stress its immediate environment; globally traded food is packaged, shipped, flown and delivered to the consumer, and these hidden environmental costs must be factored in to the choices we make as producers and consumers. 

Globally, the role of rainforests cannot be forgotten as they are responsible for 65 per cent of rainfall. The Amazon evaporates eight trillion tonnes of water vapour into the atmosphere each year. This “water pump” sustains $1 billion to $3 billion a year in rain-fed agriculture. It also flows south on a jet stream and feeds one of the world’s biggest breadbaskets, the La Plata Basin of Brazil and Argentina, with rain, while some even reaches the United States and Europe. Hydropower provides 70 per cent of Brazil’s energy, sourced from the Amazon’s rivers. High rates of deforestation are disrupting this flow. 

As Rabi Mohtar, of the World Water Council’s board of governors, says: “The land, water and energy footprint, as well as air, water and soil qualities, are issues that must be quantified and carefully managed to have a food system that is sustainable over time.” He warns: “Due to the inherent interconnections between them, a risk to one of these resources will impact the others.” 

cracked desert ground with grass
Rates of desertification and drought have skyrocketed

Agriculture already consumes two-thirds of the world’s freshwater resources, while one quarter of global energy use is within food production and supply. Hydropower alone is the biggest supplier of renewable energy and provided more than 16 per cent of the world’s electricity in 2016. Rates of desertification and drought have skyrocketed to the tune of 12 million hectares of arable land annually. 

Action is being taken. Large organisations are looking at vertical integration in the supply chain in a number of different ways, from the implementation of new processes to new technologies. Unilever, for example, is encouraging intercropping for its tea farmers, maximising the use of land and providing diversification for farmers. Smart agriculture is becoming a major buzzword and the widespread implementation is laying groundwork for entirely new approaches. 

Addressing losses in water, energy and food is the first step towards their effective management

Mohsen Mohseninia, vice president of market development in Europe at Aeris, says: “Sensors can help collect data about the entire ecosystem in real time, while helping companies offset the environmental footprint of our food. The possibilities that such technologies offer are endless. Data can be captured on anything from the changing amounts of rainfall, to the amount of petrol used transporting goods, to the condition of livestock or crops. This real-time data can be used to better understand how this nexus operates and more importantly understand the impact of people’s decisions.” 

There is no doubt that actions are being taken, ranging from increasing support, to fighting deforestation, to changing management of commodity supply chains. The Paris Agreement on climate change includes the REDD+ mechanism to help reduce deforestation and degradation, development of carbon pricing at the “micro-transaction” which can be scaled up into large sums, and the development of new processes and technologies; these will all provide part of the solution to the challenge. 

However, as Dr Feja Lesniewska, from the School of Law at SOAS, says: “All positive incentives could be cancelled out by climate change response measures that are not in harmony with WEF [water-energy-food] systems thinking. For instance, expanding monocultural plantations for bioenergy crops could reduce the availability of land suitable for agricultural purposes, especially in developing countries, as well as place further stresses on fresh water. Although interventions may be geographically specific, they can often have transnational ramifications that threaten other regional ecosystems WEF resilience.” 

Managing waste is one of the most important ways in which we can address these systemic challenges. In the UK, we throw away around half our food, import more than half our water in goods and energy efficiency is relatively low throughout the economy. Addressing losses in water, energy and food is the first step towards their effective management, while more education about the interconnectedness of these systems should help drive action. 

Many governments are beginning to take the interconnected nature of systems into account, but it’s a slow process. The role of business in sustainable development is vital and the UN’s sustainable development goals have provided a strategic framework for companies leading the charge. 

Gary Davis, president of Ecometrica, points out: “We can drive change through behaviour. Consumers can change their habits quickly and companies take notice of that. Companies get a competitive edge [by greening their supply chain], but it’s always important for governments to come in behind, reinforce actions and put in place a regulatory framework.” 

Mr Mohtar concludes: “Enabling policy coherence must be a priority for addressing and resolving nexus issues. This involves adjusting current practices – business as usual – to allow better communication and co-ordination across agencies that manage water-energy-food resources. Policies for any one of the WEF sectors must also consider its impact upon other sectors.” 

Time for another agriculture revolution

Time for another agriculture revolution: A scientific consensus exists that three of the most important 21st-century issues are food security, depleting natural resources and climate change – agriculture is at the heart of this trilemma

Global food demand will rise by at least 60 per cent over the next 35 years, but supplying this production will be challenged by increasingly scarce natural resources, such as land and freshwater, and the impact of climate change on production. 

The implication is already apparent – over the past decade, global agricultural prices have averaged 82 per cent above their level in the previous 25 years. While action to reduce food waste could make an important contribution, it will not be sufficient and a supply-side revolution will be necessary to solve the trilemma. 

Demand for food rises with population growth, but a bigger influence is development as previously poor populations shift to meat and dairy-intensive diets. Grain production will need to rise to meet the demand for feedstock – as well as its growing use in bio-energy and industry – but arable land is steadily decreasing in response to soil erosion and urbanisation. 

Moreover, the rate of growth for crop yields is declining; indeed, in Europe they have plateaued. A return to low-input-low-output systems cannot provide the necessary growth of production and the only practical response to the trilemma is sustainable intensification, defined as delivering the necessary increase in output while reducing the industry’s natural resource demands and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. 

More formally it involves a step-change in natural resource productivity (NRP). Biotechnology, and information and engineering technology underpin NRP growth. Advances in plant breeding will raise yields by enhancing the take-up of nutrients and climate adaption, while developments in livestock breeding deliver improvements in feed-conversions, health and disease resistance. 

Precision farming – the fusing of information and engineering technology – involves remote sensing, data processing and automation. By bringing sensitivity to the timing and accuracy of input applications, it directly contributes to NRP growth as well as augmenting biotechnological advances. 

Sustainable intensification requires research and development by breeders and agricultural engineers to generate and convert new knowledge into products and farming operations, but it is only when these are adopted by farmers that their benefits are captured. 

Although precision technologies have the potential to deliver significantly lower operating costs, the investment outlays are high and so take-up depends on a farm’s ability to fund the necessary capital expenditure. In this respect, larger-scale farms would appear to have an inherent advantage. Economies of scale mean they are more likely to be profitable, have greater access to investment funds and a larger volume of output over which to spread the cost. 

But scale alone is not sufficient. A positive attitude towards innovation and higher levels of human capital are also required not only to manage a larger enterprise, but also to interpret and act upon accurately the high volumes of data generated by precision farming. 

The challenge of the agricultural trilemma will only be solved with a step-change to a more professionally managed industry rooted in high-tech industrial farming systems

Within the European Union, production is being concentrated on larger-scale farms, but progress is slow. About 70 per cent of EU holdings have an area of less than five hectares and around half are defined as semi-subsistent. In the absence of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) direct payments, some 80 per cent of EU farms would not break-even; indeed, the value added per labour unit for the EU’s largest farms is more than ten times that for the smallest farms. 

At the current pace of change, it will be many years before EU agriculture arrives at an optimum structure. One way to speed up the rate of change would be swiftly to phase out direct payments. This would create scope to divert considerable funds to public sector agricultural R&D, while signalling to research centres that in future the European farming industry would be more capable of investing in capital intensive, knowledge-based solutions. 

Unfortunately, the CAP has always been first and foremost a social policy and over recent years its relationship to food production has been further undermined by a growing burden of environmental objectives. Yet another benefit of phasing out direct payments would be the scope created for better targeted standalone environmental and rural economic policies. 

Unfortunately, the chances of a policy revolution are slim and the authorities’ attempts to protect smaller-scale, less-efficient farms by raising hurdles for the adoption of advanced biotechnology are misguided. The challenge of the agricultural trilemma will only be solved with a step-change to a more professionally managed industry rooted in high-tech industrial farming systems. 

Indeed, the farmer of the future will operate behind a bank of computer screens to deliver very high levels of NRP, while monitoring markets to maximise revenue. Although this is at odds with the unrealistic but widespread romantic image of farming, it is the only sustainable basis for the delivery of affordable food, environmental protection, animal welfare and a viable rural economy. 

Fertiliser, Plant Nutrient Management, and Self-reliance in Agriculture

The importance of agriculture in the economy of Pakistan is well established. Agricultural plays an important role both directly and indirectly in generating economic activity, growth and development. Agriculture has strong backward and forward linkages and is vital to the food security of the country. Fertilisers have played an important role in Pakistan agriculture particularly in meeting the growing demand for food grains, fibre, fuel and fodder. Fertiliser consumption has increased during the last four decades to 2.6 million tonnes by 1997-98. The use level is, however, not only sub optimal but also imbalanced. Better plant nutrient management is, therefore, necessary for achieving self reliance in agriculture.

[embeddoc url=”http://agrinfobank.com.pk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/217-233.pdf” download=”logged” text=”Download Document”]

Stevia Diseases and control

Wild Stevia is reasonably proof against predominant pest and illnesses, and steviol glycoside itself has sizeable pest repellant impact, modern high yielding breeds of Stevia desires crop safety to some extent. commonly, sub-most appropriate developing conditions, excessive moisture level in soil and air, weed infestation and unbalanced nutrients are triggers for pest and ailment assault. ideal vitamins and proper agronomic management often is the primary line of defence.

Stevia is reported to get infected by means of several fungal species, which may additionally result into full-size yield loss. some fungal pathogens for Stevia and their diagnostic capabilities are listed under.
[restabs alignment=”osc-tabs-left” responsive=”false”]
[restab title=”Infecting Organism” active=”active”]Alternaria alternata[/restab]
[restab title=”Diagnostic Symptoms“]Light brown small circular spots that turn dark brown to grey and are circular to irregular in shape with concentric rings. Spots may coalesce forming large areas of necrosis.[/restab]
[restab title=”Picture“]Stevia Diseases Agriculture Information Bank[/restab][/restabs]
[restabs alignment=”osc-tabs-left” responsive=”false”]
[restab title=”Infecting Organism” active=”active”]Sclerotinia sclerotiorum[/restab]
[restab title=”Diagnostic Symptoms“]Wilting, chlorotic leaves, necrotic leaves at the base of the stem, and bleached stems. Symptomatic plants often have tufts of white hyphae present on stems and large, irregularly shaped 2 to 8mm black sclerotia on the base of the stem.[/restab]
[restab title=”Picture“] [/restab][/restabs]
[restabs alignment=”osc-tabs-left” responsive=”false”]
[restab title=”Infecting Organism” active=”active”]Sclerotium rolfsii[/restab]
[restab title=”Diagnostic Symptoms“]Yellowing and wilting of leaves, bleached stems, and eventual plant necrosis. White cord-like mycelia growth is visible at the base of stems, especially early in the morning. Mycelium is accompanied by the formation of brown sclerotia 0.5-2mm in diameter.[/restab]
[restab title=”Picture“] [/restab][/restabs]
[restabs alignment=”osc-tabs-left” responsive=”false”]
[restab title=”Infecting Organism” active=”active”]Septoria steviae[/restab]
[restab title=”Diagnostic Symptoms“]Shiny olive-gray foliar lesions, that are depressed and angular. Lesions often have a chlorotic halo and rapidly coalesce, turn necrotic, and leaves fall from the plant. Up to 50% of the foliage can become necrotic in severe cases.[/restab]
[restab title=”Picture“] [/restab][/restabs] 
[restabs alignment=”osc-tabs-left” responsive=”false”]
[restab title=”Infecting Organism” active=”active”]Rhizoctonia sp.[/restab]
[restab title=”Diagnostic Symptoms“]Sunken reddish spots, gradually expand to kill the plants. Reddish-brown to brown collar rots and root rots are common in young plants. These rots inhibit normal growth and cause stunting or plants with poor vigor. Callus formation and thickening of the collar area also occurs.[/restab]
[restab title=”Picture“] [/restab][/restabs] 
[restabs alignment=”osc-tabs-left” responsive=”false”]
[restab title=”Infecting Organism” active=”active”]Fusarium oxysporum[/restab]
[restab title=”Diagnostic Symptoms“]Wilting, chlorosis, necrosis, premature leaf drop, browning of the vascular system, stunting, and damping-off. Fusarium wilt starts out looking like vein clearing on the younger leaves and drooping of the older lower leaves, followed by stunting of the plant, yellowing of the lower leaves, defoliation, marginal necrosis and death of the plant.[/restab]
[restab title=”Picture“] [/restab][/restabs]