School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Event items

CANCELLED - Balancing nature to protect harvests from pests

Agriculture Seminar Series - Prof Toby Bruce, Keele University

Date/Time: Wednesday 14 November 2018, 13:00-14:00

Venue: Agriculture Building, Room 3.05

This seminar has been cancelled.

Abstract

Humanity relies on agriculture for survival. Our crop production, however, is threatened by pests that eat the same crops we do.

This is an ecological challenge in a simplified environment with monocultures of crops which, unlike wild plants, are artificially selected, impoverished in defences and often vulnerable to attack.

The balance of nature is changed by farming and going back to nature would actually mean that farms would run wild!

My talk will consider possible ways of preventing pests from wiping out harvests and the science underpinning this.

Farmers have become dependent on pesticides for crop protection, but pests are evolving resistance to them at a faster pace than new solutions are becoming available.

Consequently, together with concern about wider effect of pesticides on non-target species, there is an urgent need for new solutions to manage crop pests.

Opportunities are provided from improving plant defences and increasing the activity of natural enemies that attack pests for biological control.

Success from previous research with orange wheat blossom midge and Push-Pull companion cropping will be presented along with other, more experimental, approaches that require further development.

Climate change, spread of invasive pests and growing demand for food from a growing population mean that the threat to harvests from pests is becoming more critical.

This area of research has societal value due to its role in food security and environmental management while also allowing us to advance our understanding of interactions between living things and how populations of organisms are regulated.