Crop Protection Compendium - applying IT to instruction worldwide

HL Crowson1, JA Brunt1, PR Scott1, E Boa1, B Ikin2, D McGee3, E Braun3

1CAB International, Wallingford, OX10 8DE, UK; 2Consultant, Australia; 3Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA


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The Crop Protection Compendium (CPC) is an encyclopedic, multimedia CD-ROM that allows quick, easy access to the world's information on crop protection. It encompasses pests, diseases, weeds and their natural enemies, their crop hosts and the countries where they occur. It is compiled by CAB International with the assistance of many specialists and organisations; updated versions are published annually. The next edition, in June 2001, will have significantly enhanced information on plant quarantine and the economic impact of pests, diseases and weeds, and will be available on the internet, as well as the current CD-ROM format. For further information and a downloadable demo, visit the homepage at

The CPC has been available since 1997; hundreds of people around the world use it as an instructional tool, for finding information, aiding decision-making and managing knowledge. Here, we present case studies of its use. They are examples of the application of IT to teaching, training and extension.

CPC to the rescue - extension in Bolivia

Eric Boa, CABI Bioscience

I faced some serious challenges when I began a DFID Crop Protection Programme project on tree health in Bolivia in 1999, and had to assess the significance of pests and diseases on farmers' trees. These included peaches, apples, plums, citrus, chirimoya (custard apples) and mangoes – each with a huge range of important problems that we needed to tackle.

We needed a reference source that was light, portable, and could provide photos and detailed information in a format which could be easily adapted to local circumstances. I needed to learn how to identify pests, and then show others how to diagnose different conditions.

With Jeffrey Bentley, we mined information from CPC datasheets, and cut and pasted photos to provide us with what we call ‘hojas volantes’ in Spanish: our own datasheets printed on one or two A4 sides, containing summary information on pest name, symptoms, plant stages affected, control recommendations and so on. First, take one laptop with CD-ROM drive. Second, purchase an inkjet printer (which is cheap and fits in a suitcase).

Voila! We have now produced ten hojas volantes. Our procedures provide a simple method for publishing locally relevant information on pests and diseases. Jeff translates text into Spanish, and makes further edits as necessary. Draft copy is faxed to a native Spanish speaker (Ana Gonzalez) for final corrections, while we are ‘on the road’. We can have a high-quality, scientifically accurate hoja volante ready within 24 hours of identifying the need from field visits.

I have created a template in Word that allows me to cut and paste the heavily edited text from the CPC. I edit ruthlessly in order to remove references. These make little sense for extension officers, our main audience. I also simplify the text and replace technical terms with plain English, an approach that my colleague Mark Holderness refers to as ‘keeping the facts and removing the science’. A photo is added to the cover sheet; sometimes I insert my own photos. This can be done on the spot, using a digital camera.

The end result is, I hope, a professional document that conveys key information in a timely and attractive manner. File sizes inflate as more graphic images are included, and this can make it difficult to transfer data to local computers. Otherwise, the CPC has allowed our project to provide a rapid response to diagnostic needs and is filling a huge information gap for scientists and extensionists working in remote places that lack the books and other sources that we sometimes take for granted in the North.

Training phytosanitary officials with the CPC

Bob Ikin, Consultant

In developing countries with limited information resources, particularly in the Asia-Pacific Region, the CPC has been used to train phytosanitary officials to undertake development of their phytosanitary restrictions in accordance with international standards and their WTO and IPPC obligations. The primary aim is to identify those pests that meet the criteria of a regulated (quarantine) pest (RP) and to implement operational activities to address the phytosanitary risk posed.

A commodity pest risk analysis (PRA) is performed on a potential import, which first requires information on pests in the exporting country to determine that they do not also occur in the importing country. The CPC is used to list the pests of a particular crop in the exporting country and then the pests of that crop in the importing country are subtracted. The CPC datasheets of this ‘remainder’ list of pests are then examined in detail to decide whether the pest biology meets the other criteria of an RP. In particular the lifecycle of the pest is examined to decide if it will survive through the stages of the traded pathway and can reproduce in the new environment and find hosts that will assist its establishment and spread. The level of risk that the pests pose is also estimated.

If within this pathway one of the steps of entry, establishment and spread cannot be met then the pest does not meet the RP criteria and does not require regulation. If the pest can be introduced and spread then the CPC datasheet is examined to determine if the pest would be economic in the area endangered. Sometimes it is possible to eliminate the pest as an RP before considering its introduction and establishment potential if it is clearly a non-economic pest.

Once an RP is identified the trainees decide which of their available operational procedures should be applied to manage the identified risk. Firstly, the CPC pest datasheet is examined to determine, from the biology of the pest, if there are characteristics such as size that enable visual inspection to be employed as a management tool or if other treatments are required. In most underdeveloped countries the range of management options is severely limited, and treatment options at point of entry may be limited to visual inspection, otherwise treatments are required at the point of export.

Using the CPC at Iowa State University

Ed Braun, Department of Plant Pathology

We currently use the CPC in our introductory plant pathology course as a resource when we are discussing phytosanitary issues. Students are given a "phytosanitary issue" (we try to use real world examples) and use the CPC to investigate the merits of the regulation. They then write a short position paper regarding the validity of the regulation based on the information (pest biology, geographic distribution, etc.) found in the CPC.

Denis McGee, Seed Science Center

The Seed Science Center at ISU has been a major participant in developing and using the Database on Seedborne Diseases (DSD) component of the CPC. The DSD contains datasheets for approximately 300 seedborne pathogens and provides a core information source for projects at the Center. These include resolving phytosanitary disputes regarding international trade or exchange of seeds and standardising seed-health testing methods. The Center also collaborates with international organisations to harmonise seed regulations throughout the world. Recent projects in Central America and East Africa addressed phytosanitary regulations in these regions. In a series of workshops facilitated by Center staff, quarantine officials evaluated the merits of existing regulations by applying internationally accepted guidelines on Pest Risk Analysis supported by the DSD as the primary information source. This resulted in a reduction in regulations by 90% in both regions.


These contrasting case studies all point to the flexibility of the CPC as a tool that can be adapted to a wide variety of needs. The CPC provides an example of applying IT to aid the instruction and practice of plant pathology.

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