Research approach

The project will investigate vulnerable locations, effects of climate variability and extremes on parasitic-weed survival, reproduction and virulence, economic impacts, and sustainable management strategies for resource-poor farmers.

In addition, we will analyse how national crop protection systems function and innovate, taking parasitic weeds in rice-based cropping systems as a case study. Such analyses aid the development of policy guidelines geared to improve overall preparedness for new or increasing biotic constraints, as well as communication between different stakeholders.

Interviews, chain analyses, field observations and measurements, yield-loss assessments and farmer-participatory experiments in hot-spots, combined with controlled climate chamber experiments and different modelling approaches, will enable us to develop meaningful scenarios of future invasions and agronomic and economic impacts, and develop feasible management and policy strategies for prevention and containment to support stakeholder decision-making.

Four interlinked projects

The proposed Integrated Program will be composed of four interlinked projects that operate on different integration levels, cover different disciplines and target a variety of stakeholders (Figure 1).

Fig. 1. Research approach.

The development of sound and solid crop protection strategies that are acceptable to farmers is a complex task, requiring a range of disciplines and proper communication among the different stakeholders. Project 2 holds a central position with regard to the development and evaluation of solutions for dealing with parasitic weeds at the farm and field level.

Surveys are conducted and demonstration trials are laid out to promote and ensure the interaction with farmers and extension. The development of management strategies requires the sound understanding of the biology and ecology of the harmful agent and the interaction of the parasite with the host plant (project 1).

At the same time the economy of the pest population and its control measures are a key-issue. Project 3 ensures a sound mix of biological and economic focus. The combined base-line study and conjoint analyses conducted in all three countries to gather the basic information for the technological and economic aspects of the parasitic weeds in rice guarantees an intensive collaboration between project 2 and 3 right from the start.

Rather than merely finding solutions for already existing problems it is at least equally important that newly emerging biotic constraints are identified in an early stage.

Project 4 therefore complements the programme as it focuses on prevention in existing problem areas and likely future hot-spots. The institutional innovations required to improve the alertness with regard to newly emerging pests form an important component of improved crop protection at the national level.