We previously wrote about the use of natural enemies like parasitoid wasps that help farmers combat the terrible fall armyworm. This is work that we have been doing with the excellent team at icipe. You can see a video of the release we did with Dr Peter Malusi and Dr Tadele Tefera of icpie.
We had not expected to start releasing the parasitoid wasps since by the time we met up with Dr Malusi the maize had already grown to over knee height and had plenty of fall armyworm damage and eggs in the field. But we decided anyway to see what we could learn. This was led by Dream Team members Brenda and Frankline but of course with everything we do the whole team is engaged.
The fields are not being harvested yet so we do not know how much maize will be harvested. But based upon satellite measurement of above-ground biomass we can see a 38% difference in biomass between the fields where the parasitoid wasps were released and some control fields we were monitoring for another study. This was work done by Dr Fei Jiang on our team.
So, this is just a quick assessment and we would not consider this a well-done scientific study. But it is useful as it shows the promise of the approach.
Here are some pictures of how the field looked early on and then at maturity
But perhaps the most exciting thing was the breakdown of the prices saved by Lead Farmer Emily Omiah. She has saved $75 that she would have spent on pesticides. That was around 26% of the profits! She could use that on top dressing her maize. You can see a video of her here.
We will keep updating you on how it is going but wanted to share this as quickly as possible. These parasitoids are amazing!!! It is like a vaccine for Fall armyworm
Lets keep it up