AGRICULTURE NEWS - Plagued by stink bug populations that seem to multiply despite increased pest control application, the macadamia industry in South Africa is losing R200 million a year to insect pest damage. This damage is related to unsound kernel, a condition where the macadamia nut in the shell is damaged by insects while ripening on the tree.
Many farmers have reacted by applying ever more pesticide, which has only served to exacerbate the problem as natural predators to harmful insects are also eliminated, detrimentally affecting the entire ecology within orchards.
One of South Africa’s largest macadamia production areas, Levubu in Limpopo, happens to be home to 14 bat species. This, coupled with the economic significance that bats could offer macadamia farmers, led Dr Valerie Linden, from the Centre for Invasion Biology at the University of Venda, to conduct research that could eventually see bats protected and nurtured by the agricultural community.