First bee-applied pesticide approved in the U.S.

On Aug. 28, the EPA approved the first bee-distributed organic pesticide for the U.S. market—a powder branded as “Vectorite” that contains the spores of a naturally occurring fungus called CR-7. The compound is complete­ly harmless to its host plant but acts as a hostile competitor to other fungi. It has been approved for commercial growers of flowering crops such as blueberries, strawberries, almonds and tomatoes.

A Canadian company, Bee Vectoring Technolo­gies, devised the system, which involves placing small trays of CR-7 inside bee hives. The bees walk over the trays while in the hive, and the CR-7 attaches to their bodies. When they fly out to pollinate plants, the bees leave traces of the fungal compound everywhere they go. Both bum­blebees and honeybees are capable of spreading Vectorite up to 400 yards from their hive.

Once it’s delivered by the bees, CR-7 quickly embeds itself within the plant, establishing a natural defense system against common diseases such as gray mold, white mold, early potato blight, black rot on citrus and other fungus-based crop problems.

EPA’s published statement on the approval says there is no evidence that CR-7 is unsafe to either humans or the environment and also cre­ates a tolerance exemption, which means there is no requirement to test crops for CR-7 residue on food.

The bee-delivered pesticide is already being marketed for U.S. strawberry and blueberry crops grown in the fall and winter, and the technology is being tested on sunflower crops in the Dakotas.

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New 'PED Talks' series digs into soil health

The importance of soil health is being highlighted in a new series of 10-to-15-minute, science-centered “PED Talks” on YouTube designed to engage and educate a wide range of audiences on the topic.

Inspired by similarly named “TED Talks,” the soil health series addresses progress that’s being made to ensure the healthy soils necessary to feed, clothe and fuel the world in the future. Soil peds, by the way, are aggregated particles of sand, silt, clay and organic matter.

Five inaugural PED Talks are now available, including a video introduction from USDA Natural Resources Conser­vation Service Chief Matt Lohr and presentations by experts from other partnering organizations.

“People say that clean water is the key to life on the planet, but the very same thing can be said about healthy soil—it is literally the foundation to productive agriculture, balanced wildlife habitats and an overall healthy environment,” Lohr said. “These PED Talks are not only useful for our nation’s ag­ricultural producers, but also for our educators, policy makers and the general public. We all benefit from good soil health.”

The PED Talks series was created by NRCS along with the Conservation Technology Information Center, Soil Health Institute, Soil Health Partnership, Soil Science Society of America and Soil and Water Conservation Society. The part­ners plan to record additional presentations and release them on the PED Talks YouTube channel, with a focus on the next generation of scientists and farmers.

View the PED Talks at http://bit.ly/PEDtalks.

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Convention commendations

Missouri FFA members were awarded 520 American FFA Degrees at the 92nd National FFA Convention, held Oct. 30 through Nov. 2 in Indianapolis. That’s the most recipients of any state earning the organization’s highest individual honor in 2019.

The awards were among many earned by Missouri FFA members, past and present. Among them were Dr. Alan Wessler, retired MFA Incorpo­rated Vice President of Feed Operations and Ani­mal Health, who was presented with an Honorary American FFA Degree. The recognition is given to people who have provided exceptional service on a national level to agriculture, agricultural education or FFA. Six others from Missouri also received honorary degrees: Jackie Carlson, Scott Gardner, David Higgins, Jill Nagel, Diane Olsen and Jon Wilson.

Troy FFA was also recognized as the National Premier Chapter winner for “Building Commu­nities,” based on its campaign to promote organ donor registration to members and supporters. Troy FFA members used social media, videos and presentations to encourage enrollment in the pro­gram while educating others on the importance of organ donations. The chapter signed up more than 1,000 people to the registry.

The Sweet Springs FFA chapter was named among the top 10 in the nation in the Premier Chapter’s “Strengthening Agriculture” Division.

Two youth captured national championships in Agricultural Proficiency: Amelia Liebhart (Bucklin FFA, diversified livestock production) and Kylynn Mallen (Cameron FFA, nursery operations). The North Shelby FFA team also took first place in the agriculture mechanics category of Career and Leadership Development Events.

During the 2019 convention, the national FFA organization announced that it now has record student enrollment of more than 700,000 mem­bers, up from 669,989 in 2018. Missouri is among the top six student membership states.

A full list of this year’s award recipients is avail­able at www.ffa.org/event-results.

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