Rodents, particularly rats, elicit a strong reaction in most people – from fear, to loathing, to disgust – and with good reason, for we know they can transmit diseases, destroy food crops and damage infrastructure. But what do we do when rodents get out of control? NRI’s Professor Steve Belmain will discuss rodent reproduction and control at his Inaugural Professorial Lecture entitled “Sex, Breeding and Population Dynamics: When Rodents Get out of Control” taking place on the 8th June, 2016 at the University of Greenwich’s Medway Campus.
NRI is at the forefront of a battle to beat losses of food crops after harvest, known specifically as ‘postharvest losses’. When food is lost after harvest, it also means wasted agricultural inputs such as seeds, water, land use, fertiliser, labour and transport that were invested in growing the food. In addition, any pollution or carbon dioxide released during the process will have been in vain. But what is the extent of this loss, and what can we do to reduce it?
At the beginning of the year, NRI embarked on a series of engagements in China, including involvement in the First World Congress on Root and Tubers Crops and the signing of a number of agreements with Chinese Research Institutes and Universities.
To catch a killer, you have to understand it, and know its movements. Malaria is particularly deadly, killing 450,000 people a year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. The disease is spread by mosquitoes including Anopheles gambiae. This mosquito usually bites people at night, though its changing habits mean that it is starting to bite people outdoors and earlier in the day, before people are under their insecticide-treated bed nets. To eradicate malaria, we must know more about An. gambiae, in order to develop effective methods of control. A novel study published recently in Scientific Reports shows that bacteria found all over the mosquito contain vital clues about a mosquito’s origins and daily movements.
Professor John Porter, internationally renowned scientist in crop ecology and physiology, biological modelling and agricultural ecology, has been made a Knight of the Order of Agricultural Merit – France’s highest accolade in the area of agriculture – which is given to people who have made exceptional contributions to agriculture via theory, innovation or practice. The Ordre du Mérite Agricole was started in 1883, in recognition of the importance of agriculture to the French people and economy – an importance that continues to this day – and was considered the second highest French honour after the Légion d’Honneur.
Biopesticides – substances used for controlling pests made from natural products or micro-organisms – are environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and can be cheaper and more effective than chemical pesticides. They’re also big business, with the biopesticide market predicted to exceed USD 6 billion by 2020. Growth in this sector is reflected in the growing popularity of the free Greenwich Biopesticide Event, now in its fourth year, which brings together members of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and biopesticide technology community to share opinions, challenges and opportunities.
For 25 years, NRI has been working to improve the cassava value chain, along its journey from farm to fork. Now that journey is taking NRI and cassava to Buckingham Palace – the official residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – for the presentation of the Queen's Anniversary Prize awarded to the University of Greenwich for NRI's cassava work.
Dr Corinne Alexander was a well-known and well-respected agricultural economist and grain marketing extension specialist at Purdue University, Indiana, USA. NRI staff who knew Corinne were shocked to hear of her sudden death in January 2016, and deeply saddened to lose such a valued collaborator and friend.
Aedes aegypti is the name of the mosquito species behind the headlines on the current Zika virus outbreak in the Americas. This species of mosquito is also responsible for transmitting dengue, the world's fastest-growing mosquito-borne disease, and other deadly diseases such as yellow fever and chikungunya. NRI researchers are set to embark on a three-year project to understand more about this mosquito species, and to ultimately develop solutions to control their spread.