26 September 2014 – Today, HRH The Duke of Gloucester visited CABI’s head office in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, to learn about the organization’s work solving problems in agriculture and the environment. The Duke was greeted by Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, John Harwood, and CABI’s Executive Director, Publishing, Andrea Powell. Chairman of South Oxfordshire District Council, Cllr Anne Midwinter, Chair of Crowmarsh Parish Council, John Griffin, the Mayor of Wallingford, Cllr Jane Titchener and the former Mayor of Wallingford, Cllr Bernard Stone, attended the event.
CABI scientists were on hand to show how the organization’s research helps control the spread of non-native invasive species using natural means. Kate Constantine gave an overview of CABI’s research on the biological control of Japanese knotweed, a fast-growing non-native weed that grows through concrete and damages property, using the psyllid, Aphalara itadori. Following extensive research, CABI released these sap-sucking bugs in field trials at various sites across the UK in 2010. The Duke was invited to view the psyllids in action under a microscope.
Sonal Varia introduced CABI’s research on the biological control of Himalayan balsam, one of the UK’s most invasive weeds, which destroys natural habitats. CABI began field trials in August 2014 to control Himalayan balsam using the rust fungus, Puccinia komarovii. She talked about exploratory surveys to better understand the plant, testing of the rust fungus in quarantine to ensure its safety and the recent field trials, the first of their kind in the UK and Europe. Corin Pratt described CABI’s programme to control Azolla, a plant that infests water habitats damaging biodiversity, using weevils.
Mrs Powell talked about CABI’s mission to improve people’s lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. She explained the principles that underpin Plantwise – a programme conceived and led by CABI to help smallholder farmers in developing countries safeguard their food production. Dr Clare Beverley gave a demonstration of how Plantwise plant clinics operate and how plant doctors help diagnose and treat farmers’ sick plants, in order to help them grow more and lose less of what they produce.
Mrs Powell also showed The Duke CABI’s scientific publishing products, as well as the architectural designs for the new CABI building in Wallingford. “We’re delighted His Royal Highness could visit CABI and see how we take scientific expertise in agriculture and the environment and turn it into action to help people in the UK and across the world.”
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