© 2017 Al-Kindi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Date palm cultivation is economically important in the Sultanate of Oman, with significant financial investments coming from both the government and private individuals. However, a widespread Dubas bug (DB) (Ommatissus lybicus Bergevin) infestation has impacted regions including the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Russia, and Spain, resulting in widespread damages to date palms. In this study, techniques in spatial statistics including ordinary least squares (OLS), geographically weighted regression (GRW), and exploratory regression (ER) were applied to (a) model the correlation between DB infestations and human-related practices that include irrigation methods, row spacing, palm tree density, and management of undercover and intercropped vegetation, and (b) predict the locations of future DB infestations in northern Oman. Firstly, we extracted row spacing and palm tree density information from remote sensed satellite images. Secondly, we collected data on irrigation practices and management by using a simple questionnaire, augmented with spatial data. Thirdly, we conducted our statistical analyses using all possible combinations of values over a given set of candidate variables using the chosen predictive modelling and regression techniques. Lastly, we identified the combination of human-related practices that are most conducive to the survival and spread of DB. Our results show that there was a strong correlation between DB infestations and several human-related practices parameters (R 2 = 0.70). Variables including palm tree density, spacing between trees (less than 5 x 5 m), insecticide application, date palm and farm service (pruning, dethroning, remove weeds, and thinning), irrigation systems, offshoots removal, fertilisation and labour (non-educated) issues, were all found to significantly influence the degree of DB infestations. This study is expected to help reduce the extent and cost of aerial and ground sprayings, while facilitating the allocation of date palm plantations. An integrated pest management (IPM) system monitoring DB infestations, driven by GIS and remote sensed data collections and spatial statistical models, will allow for an effective DB management program in Oman. This will in turn ensure the competitiveness of Oman in the global date fruits market and help preserve national yields.
Al-Kindi, K. M., Kwan, P., Andrew, N. R., & Welch, M. (2017). Impacts of human-related practices on Ommatissus lybicus infestations of date palm in Oman. PLoS ONE, 12(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171103