Thursday, 2 February 2017

Russia takes action on locust for 2017

Russia's Ministry of Agriculture held a workshop this week on locust and have instructed regions to take preventive measures to control the pest in 2017.

During the workshop they noted that in recent years there has been a strong growth in the number of locust incidences that have caused problems for crops.

Just google Russia locust and you’ll soon get the idea why the Ministry of Agriculture is concerned, a swarm can strip a standing crop in minutes.

It’s been a long time since I did some post grad studies on locusts but from what I remember once their food source starts to diminish and they come in close contact with each other, serotonin is released causing them to change from the humble grasshopper and into a swarming hoard of voracious locusts.

The last couple of summers in the north Caucuses has been hot and dry leading to a depletion in the grasshoppers food resulting in locust swarms that moved further north and west into important cropping regions of southern Russia.

The Ministry of Agriculture technical centre has provided the regional branches with an action plan of control measures to combat locust pests which I guess involves aviation fuel, stockpiles of organophosphorus and crossed fingers.

While swarms in the past have been devastating (see pic from southern Russia) they have been relatively localised covering tens of thousands of hectares, the fear being that if they swarm early enough and cover hundreds of thousands of hectares then they could really do some damage to Russia’s grain output.

For 2017 the Ministry has planned to allocate funds that, in the event of a swarm, will provide control over 800,000 hectares. 

That’s planned mind, not allocated yet.