Knowledge for a sustainable world

Dudley Farman has worked at the University of Greenwich for over 23 years. He is an analytical chemist with over 23 years' experience in the analysis and formulation of insect pheromones and related natural products, and also in chemical quality assessment of horticultural produce. He has wide experience of the installation and maintenance of computer hardware and software, and of analytical equipment, and has short-term overseas experience in Africa.

Dudley's research has been directed at reducing the use of conventional, chemical insecticides through the development of more environmentally-acceptable and sustainable approaches, particularly those based on natural products such as pheromones and other semiochemicals.

Dudley has also been involved with research on the biological and ecological roles of plant chemicals for applications to different agricultural development problems, including natural resistance to insect pests and use of pesticidal plants (botanical insecticides) in locally produced insecticides used by small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dudley's particular interests are in pheromones of insects, which control many aspects of their behaviour, and odours of plants which attract or repel insects. He is heavily involved in replicating these compounds synthetically, using a range of analytical techniques, to define their precise chemical structure and reproduce them synthetically. He works with biologists in the laboratory and in the field and with commercial companies to ensure research results are taken forward to help manage pests and diseases in an environmentally-acceptable, sustainable manner.

Safe control of mirid pests on cocoa in West Africa. Cocoa Research UK; 2007–13. Total value £300,000; value to NRI £190,000.

Mirids are the main insect pests of cocoa in West Africa. In this project the pheromones of the two main species in Ghana were identified and their use for monitoring and control of the pests by mass trapping investigated. The work formed the basis of PhD studies by a member of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana.

New biofumigation-based approaches to sustainable control of soil-borne pathogens. TSB; 2011–14. Total value £800,000; value to NRI £110,000.

Control of soilborne pathogens such as Verticillium wilt has become a major problem in UK horticulture since withdrawal of the broad-spectrum chemical fumigant methyl bromide. NRI work has shown that lavender foliage can kill the Verticillium spores and the chemicals responsible have been identified. Use of lavender waste and a microencapsulated formulation of the active chemicals for soil sterilisation is being investigated.

Development of improved methods for detection, control and eradication of pine wood nematode in support of EU Plant Health policy. EU FP7; 2010–14. Total value EUR3m; value to NRI £160,000.

Pine wilt nematode is an invasive pest from Asia that threatens the pine forests of Europe. This project aims to assess the magnitude of this threat and develop methods to minimise it. The nematode is carried by beetles and our component involves development of attractants for monitoring and control of the beetles. Powerful attractants involving pheromones and pine volatiles have been developed for the known and potential vector species and their use in monitoring and mass trapping of the beetles is being investigated.

Semiochemical control of midge pests of horticultural crops. Defra/CRD; 2013–16. Total value £160,000; value to NRI £55,000.

Plant feeding gall midges are important pests of agricultural and horticultural crops worldwide and pesticide use to control them is significant. This project aims to develop the first effective semiochemical-based control method for a gall midge pest that will be suitable for use in commercial practice.

Optimising pesticidal plants. A Technology Innovation, Outreach and Networks (OPTIONs) project. Funded by the European Union Africa Caribbean and Pacific Groups of States Science and technology Programme. Value EUR1m.

This research project examines ways to optimise the improved use and uptake of pesticidal plants as pest management alternatives for small holder farmers in sub Saharan Africa. The project develops strategies to increase accessibility to plant materials through propagation and elite provenance selection based on chemical analysis and biological study to ensure that promotion of the technology is sustainable, reliable and effective.

NRI Laboratory Health and Safety Inspections
  • Dudley Farmans's skills and knowledge are recognised within the University of Greenwich and much more widely by colleagues in the UK and overseas, particularly in the field of insect chemistry.
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