Nuffield Presentation is Online

My presentation at the Nuffield conference is now online. 2 years work in 12 minutes

 

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Real IPM, Kenya, 23rd of January 2016 – part 2

Today is our last day in Kenya and we are back with Henry and Louise. During our last visit we did not see the microbe production and packing process so this morning Henry took us around the site.

First we saw the boiler. This heats the green houses with Macadamia nut shells.

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Then we looked at the production of Phytoseiulus. This is a predatory might that is used in various applications in things like Rose production and is Real IPM’s biggest seller. To produce a predatory mite you need to first produce its prey. So the first greenhouse we saw was producing the prey which is red spider mite.

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They produce the prey on beans. Interestingly they plant beans with trichoderma another product of theirs and don’t get soil disease problems with beans after beans. The next green house we went to is where they have the predatory mites. They infect the beans with the prey and once the predators have eaten most of the prey they harvest them. They get about 5 crops a year of Phytoseiulus. They produce about 40 million per week off 8ha of greenhouses

Once harvested they go to quality control

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This where they literally remove all contaminants so it is 100% Phytoseiulus. Below Gordon is checking their work

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Once they have been checked they are cooled down for transport. Different customers want the product in different numbers and packaged. The Kenyan market wants them in the tubes below

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In each each tube is about 1-2000 predators. They reuse the tubes a number of times. They produce 7 different types of predatory mites

We next looked a fungus production. They produce metarhiziums if various types which are fungus that eat the stages of certain insects that are in the soil. This have great potential for the UK if it wasn’t for the EU registration system. They grow the fungi on rice bran

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Once the fungus have eaten all the bran they are processed

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They are sifted and dried

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Then they are formulated and sold in bottles

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ICIPE the research organisation has 300 isolets of Metarhizium which they do not yet all of their functions. Real IPM has a bioprospecting team who are actively looking for new microbes which may be useful.

Another thing they do is testing of other people’s products for the Kenyan authorities . This is why they have a green house of roses to test products efficacy.

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Henry and Louise have been amazing hosts for us. They fed us, housed us for five nights and also gave us contacts to see around Kenya. Without them our visit would have been a lot harder. They are also two really dynamic people with a fascinating business. One I would recommend everyone to come and visit.

Many thanks Henry and Louise

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Dr Zeyaur Khan, ICIPE, Mbita Point, Kenya, 20th January 2016 – Part 1

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After leaving Rusinga we traveled a short distance to ICIPE at Mbita Point. This is where Dr Khan (left in the picture) has been developing the “push-pull “technology for maize growing in this area. The evening we arrived we had dinner with Professor Wadhams and his wife who are here on holiday. Professor Wadhams co-developed push-pull with Dr Khan.

Push-pull is probably the most powerful example of the beneficial effects of intercropping I will see. The problems of growing maize in this area of East Africa is a parasitic weed called Striga

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As shown above the Striga attaches to the root of the maize and sucks all the nutrients. The other problem is stem-borer. It is the larval stage of a moth that bores into the stem of the maize again taking nutrients from the maize

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The push-pull has been developed using Desmodium a legume and Napier grass to trick the moth and the Striga

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There is a lot of information on http://www.push-pull.net The Desmodium tricks the Striga into suicidal germination and repels the moth of the stem borer. Then the Napier grass attracts the moth to it where lays it eggs instead of on the maize.

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This is the first push-pull field which has been going for 15 years. This technology has increased the maize yields from 1.5t/ha to over 5t/ha and has been taken up by 110,000 farms in East Africa. There are other benefits of the system. The Desmodium and the Napier grass can be used livestock feed. The Desmodium provides Nitrogen and is a weed suppressant. They only have to weed once instead of 3 times and only in a small strip not all over. The other benefit is that it is relatively cheap to run. The Desmodium seed is a one off cost. The system can also be used in sorghum and millet.

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Above is showing the difference between with (left) and without (right) push-pull. It is pretty dramatic.

After a few years there became a problem in very dry years that the variety of Desmodium would not survive the drought and so needed to be replanted and the Napier grass developed a disease called Napier Stunt. This led to the second generation Climate Smart Push Pull. They now use a drought tolerant variety of Desmodium and a different grass called Brachiaria.

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Above is a plot that is ready to be planted with maize. They have also tried to work out what the effect of the Desmodium is on Striga. Is it shading of Striga, Nitrogen effect on the maize or root exudates

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The results seem to show that the root exudates have the biggest effects.

The major side benefit of the Push-Pull is the production of fodder for the animal. So at ICIPE they are trialling best practise for fodder harvest, usage and ensiling

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They are also measuring the production benefits and increases in the livestock production

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Another interesting benefit of the Napier grass is that is repels tics so they surround their stall with Napier grass.

We really had a fascinating morning with so much information that I could not fit it all into this blog and I would recommend people visit the website for more information. It is a great example of how to use Mother Nature to your own benefit without large costs which makes it ideal for the small holders. Many thank to the team at ICIPE.