Utilising biological controls will help farmers find sustainable methods to fight a devastating maize pest which threatens food security in Zambia, a Harper Adams graduate has found.
Agronomist Sheila Zulu, who studied for an MSc in agricultural sciences and production systems at Harper Adams University with a Marshal Papworth Fund scholarship, was leading the change against fall armyworm (FAW) using a combination of plant-based products which destroy the pest larvae as well as pheromone traps to minimise mating in adult moths.
It comes after an invasion in 2016/2017 continued to have ’devastating’ effects on maize production, with more than 300,000 hectares of crop damage across the country and yield loss of more than 30 per cent.
Ms Zulu said: "It is critical to ensure that farmers understand the local resources at their disposal and obtain knowledge of what works best at minimal cost rather than continually depending on chemical interventions."
She added in her role as an agronomist and trainer at the AGCO Future Farm in Zambia she was conducting training and managing cropping trials demonstrating best practice.
"Through this I hope to particularly help the small-scale farmers who produce roughly 80 per of Zambia’s food, and are most at risk of the devastating economic impact of crop failure,” she said.