DDD Conference

Prof. Shai Morin

Climate‑Smart Pest Management: Using Pest Population Seasonal Forecasts to Build Sustainable Agricultural Systems in a Warming World

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

The resilience of global agricultural systems to climate changes and their ability to mitigate their hazardous impacts will determine the prospects of global food security. Within this broad challenge, there are no clear proactive and/or reactive strategies to manage the projected increase, attributed to global warming, of the frequency and intensity of regional insect pest outbreaks. Therefore, the formation of ‘climate-smart’ pest management practices that enable the effective adaptation to the changing climatic conditions and support sustainable agricultural production are urgently required. We describe here the development of a sub-seasonal to seasonal (S2S) pest-population dynamics forecasting system that targets the globally-spread insects pests of agriculture Ceratitis capitata (medfly) and the whitefly Bemisia tabaci. Forecasting is achieved by feeding the insects’ population dynamic models with temperature time-series obtained from downscaled ECMWF-SEAS5 seasonal forecasts. The spatial and temporal resolution of the SEAS5 data is enriched by a stochastic downscaling tool (a ’weather-generator’), that uses ECMWF-ERA5-reanalysis atmospheric data and temperature records from ground meteorological stations. The ‘weather-generator’ contains a random component that enlarges the variability of the downscaled data set, allowing the production of probabilistic forecasts of pest populations spatiotemporal dynamics throughout the growing season. The new forecasting system can also be linked to projected climate simulations (e.g., CMIP5/6), enabling long-term planning and a transition from primarily individual field-based to coordinated community decision making. This allows the gaining of long-lasting regional and environmental benefits, such as recovery of biodiversity loss, reduced levels of water and air pollutants, while establishing highly productive agricultural systems.

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