Xia Yuxian: "precision strike" rice pests
A pesticide is developed to control rice diseases and insect pests without polluting the environment. This is the "small goal" of Xia Yuxian, a professor at Chongqing University and chief scientist of Chongqing Julixin Biotecb Co., Ltd. for which he studied for 11 years.
Recently, the team developed a broad-spectrum pesticide suspension of Metarhizium anisopliae oil and wettable powder and completed the pesticide registration with field trials, and granted the active ingredient and formulation of the national new pesticide registration and production license. It will enter the stage of mass production by the end of this year.
"I am a real rural child, and my dream is to engage in agriculture." Xia Yuxian said he had a quarrel with his father about going for the entrance exam to Agricultural University, but finally persuaded his parents, and was enrolled in Sichuan Agricultural University.
In 1991, Xia Yuxian was admitted to Southwest Agricultural University, and began his postgraduate study, turning his major to cotton breeding; in 1996, he was awarded a Sino-British Friendship Scholarship to study biochemistry at the University of Bath, England, for a doctorate degree; in 2000, he founded the Center for Genetic Engineering Research of Chongqing University.
"Crops are most afraid of pests and diseases.He was trying to solve the problem of pests and help farmers gain better yield." Xia Yuxian said. In 2003, he led the research and development team of the first domestic "grasshopper killing by Metarhizium anisopliae - a biological pesticide" in the northern ten provinces of the main locust devastating areas to carry out the application, locust control rate was reached as high as 90%. In 2006, the Xia Yuxian team's research projects were listed as the "863 National Biological Pesticide Program" in the 11th Five-Year Plan.
Xia Yuxian said that although biopesticides have many advantages, their market share is very low due to the shorter shelf life and higher production costs. And he found that many pesticides target only one pest, and farmers are not pesticide experts and often buy the wrong pesticides. If one strain can be developed to kill all the major pests that may occur during the whole growth period of a crop, it will be convenient for farmers and protect the environment.
They first aimed research on pests that plagued rice producing areas. The data showed that there were more than 40 kinds of rice pests, among which Chilo suppressalis, rice leaf roller and rice planthopper are the most damaging pests, which could lead to a significant reduction in rice yield. Under the condition of pesticide control, the loss caused by pests still accounts for more than 5% of the total yield of rice.
After repeated studies, researchers found a broad spectrum of Metarhizium anisopliae strains among more than 1000 insecticidal microorganisms. With the support of the Agricultural Department, thousands of acres of experimental demonstration and large-scale application have been carried out in the main rice producing areas of Hubei and Hunan since 2011, and nearly 100 experimental demonstration sites had been established. It is found that this biological pesticide is not only efficient and broad-spectrum, but also simple and convenient to use.
"In 2012 in Xiushan experimental field, the sound of frogs in our field was heard, the other fields with traditional pesticides are quiet." Xia Yuxian said with a smile, this is because traditional pesticides kill insects and other organisms like natural enemies together. However, the biopesticides they studied only kill pests, which are safe for human beings, livestock and all kinds of beneficial organisms, and have little impact on non-target organisms.