The Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) is a pest that feeds on hundreds of fruit tree species, causing considerable damage. In the USA, costs to control the pest exceed $450 million per year. Global regions that climatically support the invasion of the Japanese beetle include central Europe where it is considered a high priority pest. This project is aiming to tackle the spread of the Japanese beetle by exploring the use of the parasitic fly, Istocheta aldrichi, as a classical biological control agent in Switzerland, where it arrived in 2017.
Pests and diseases contribute to 40% of food loss leading to food insecurity. Synthetic pesticides are the predominant control method but these are associated with negative environmental and health concerns. The extensive use of chemicals has sparked a renewed interest in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – an effective combination of control methods and the need for new innovative ways to manage pest and disease outbreaks. There are many digital systems that have been developed to identify, monitor, manage, control and predict outbreaks of a large number of pest and disease species. These systems provide useful information to aid decision-making and timing of integrated pest management strategies. By building on the successes of existing systems and data assets, this project aims to establish a digital agricultural plant health service for efficient pest and disease management in Malawi that will benefit over 100,000 farmers.