Author Archives: Andrew Stoute

About Andrew Stoute

Dr. Stoute obtained his PhD in Plant Biology from the University of Reading in 2009 working on photoperiodic control of flowering. He then took Post-Doctoral Researcher position at Rothamsted Research working on the developmental factors around parental regulation of seed size in oilseed rape (canola). He joined the staff of the West Indies Central Sugar Cane Breeding Station in 2011 as the Plant Geneticist, responsible for performing crosses from extensive germplasm collection to provide clients with improved sugarcane varieties. He also develops systems and programs to aid in the selection of the best parental material for those crosses.

Engineering in Barbados (circa 1976)

F.C. Hutson

It cannot be determined with complete accuracy when engineering, as now known, was first introduced in Barbados, but it is reasonable to assume that Mechanical Engineers were required when steam-operated sugar mills began to replace windmills. This took place about the middle of the last century, it is recorded in Schomburgk’s “History of Barbados” that the first steam plant was installed in 1845, and in Bowen’s 1868 Almanac of Barbados that by 1854 there were five steam-operated sugar mills. These were at Bulkely, Carrington, Lamberts, River (St. Philip) and Walkers (St. Andrew). Also recorded in Bowen’s Almanac, the number of steam engines increased rapidly to thirty in 1868 and fifty-nine in 1880 and a hundred in 1895. It is of interest to note that only nine sugar factories are in existence today (1976), capable of making more sugar in four months than the five hundred odd windmills made in six months.

The following article was written by the Hon. Sir Francis C. Hutson, Ki.B., C.B.E., Eng., F.I.Mech.E., some thirteen years ago, but has never been publicised as far as is known. It recently came into this writer’s hands, and I believe Sir Frank may have originally written it for The Barbados Museum & Historical Society’s Journal, of which he was President around the time, or possibly just for his own amusement.

I have taken the liberty of updating it here and there (all the sections in italics) and of publishing it as the information contained therein is of much interest to those in the engineering business, as well as historians.

Engineering in Barbados 1976 pdf

The more fertilizer the more yield?

H.G. de Boer for the 7th Annual Conference of the BSTA, 1989

At the 4th Annual BSTA Conference, a graph was published (de Boer, 1986) based on work by Chase (1969-1981) which clearly indicated an optimum level of N application of somewhere between 115 and 140 lbs N per acre – less for plantcane, more for ratoons. This optimum level will vary with the cost of fertilizer, with receipts for cane sold and with the cost of harvest.

The Agronomy Research Unit (ARU) of Barbados Sugar Industry Ltd (BSIL) decided in 1983 to carry out some experiments to test the common perception among farmers that higher levels of fertilizer would be worth their while. It was also felt that maybe the figures produced by Chase were not directly applicable to current farming practice since his trials were carried out entirely by hand labour. It was considered possible that the cane would respond to higher levels of fertilizer under farming conditions where fertilizer is applied mechanically and the cane cut by combine harvester.

Excerpts from the conclusion

Not only did the cane in the trials reported on here not respond any better to extra fertilizer than in the MAFF trials by Chase (1969-1981), it did not respond at all to extra fertilizer – except in the presence of compost. The reason(s) for this need investigation and this paper indicates a number of possible lines of action.
In the meantime, farmers need to be advised that ap plying excess fertilizer is most likely to be a waste of scarce resources. The fact that the cane may look healthier and/or greener after heavy doses of fertilizer is no guarantee of extra yield. The data presented in this paper are accurate reflections of exactly what happens under commonly used farming practices and must therefore be taken seriously

More fertilizer more yield? pdf

A look at the ‘dry skin’ problem in yams

Michael James for the 7th Annual Conference of the BSTA 1989

‘Dry Skin’ or dry rot in yams is a disease found wide-spread in Barbados on the yam cultivars currently being grown here and indeed on nearly all the varieties of Dioscorea spp.

The causal agent is a nematode, Pratylenchus coffae which seems to work in association with a fungal organism and the disease causes both quantitative and qualitative damage to harvested tubers. (Brathwaite & Hutton, 1980)

A look at the ‘dry skin’ problem in yams pdf

An update on the propagation of Heliconias from seed

Jeff St.A. Chandler and Louis E. Chinnery for the 7th Annual Conference of the BSTA, 1989

The dynamic nature of the International Flower Market demands that new introductions enter the market place from time to time. This is to satisfy the need for something different, be it in form or colour. The creation of new variation in existing species would maintain florists’ enthusiasm and excitement and would enhance their creative skills at satisfying the all important consumer.

An update on the propagation of Heliconias from seed pdf

Susceptibility of sugarcane varieties to thrips in Barbados

Louis E. Chinnery, Sandra R. Bellamy, Maria M.H. Agard, Nigel McA. Scott, Amina Adam, Michael P. Smith, Deryck S. Murray and Trudy Small for the 7th Annual Technical Conference of the BSTA 1989

In Barbados sugarcane is attacked by several pest species of varying economic importance. Of these the sugarcane moth-borer, Diatraea saccharalis (Fabri cius), the sugarcane root-borer, Diaprepes abbreviatus (Linnaeus), and the white grubs of the brown hardback, Clemora (=Phyllophaga) smithi (Arrow), are the most important (Alleyne, 1983; Alam and Gibbs, 1988). Currently, Diatraea is under effective biological control (Alleyne, 1983) but Diaprepes and Clemora are still problematic especially in the low rainfall areas after prolonged drought years (Alam and Gibbs, 1988). However some promising results have been achieved with an entomogenous nematode, Neoplectana (=Steinernema) glasseri, against both of these pests (Alam and Gibbs, 1988).

Susceptibility of sugarcane varieties to thrips in Barbados pdf

Insecticide resistance in Diamondback moth in Barbados

Ian H Gibbs, Louis E. Chinnery and Jeffery E. Jones for the 7th Annual Technical Conference of the BSTA, 1989

The diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.) (Lepidoptera: Yponomeutidae) is certainly one of the world’s most important pest species. It mainly attacks brassicaceous crops especially cabbage, Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata L., and cauliflower, B. oleracea var. botrytis L.. It is found north of latitude 60° in Iceland, throughout the temperate zone and in the tropics (CIE, 1967). Hardy (1938 cited by Ooi, 1986) suggested that it probably originated in the Mediterranean region which was also the evolutionary centre for the B. oleracea crops

All Brassicas contain glucosinolates which, when the leaves are damaged, give rise to bitter tasting and goitrogenic substances: isothiocyanates, thiocyanates, nitriles and goitrin. Selection, from the start of domestication, must have been for plants which were less bitter-tasting (Thompson, 1976). Unfortunately, this improvement in taste was at the cost of reducing the plants natural defense against pests.

Insecticide resistance in Diamondback moth in Barbados pdf

Present status of knowledge affecting E. postfasciatus (West Indian sweet potato weevil) management

Presented by E.H. Alleyne at the 7th Annual Technical Conference of the BSTA 1989

E. postfasciatus (West Indian sweet potato weevil) infests both stems and tubers of
sweet potatoes. It is not quite certain how the adults are
able to reach the tuber in the soil, but it is speculated that
they either travel along the paths created by the roots
and/or enter through cracks in the soil. However, sweet
potatoes grown during the rainy season or in irrigated
fields, suffer considerable tuber damage by the weevil,
despite the almost total absence of cracks in soil. The
biology of the insect has been described (Tucker, 1937
Alleyne, 1982). ’

Present status of knowledge affecting E. postfasciatus management pdf

Mechanising Animal Cane – By Colin Hudson

Presented at the Seventh Annual Conference of the BSTA, 1989


It seems to be generally agreed by the sugar industries in this hemisphere that the use of sugarcane and by-products for animal feed is the most generally promising diversification of all the various ideas tried. Some years ago, Barbados was in the forefront of this development but we did not apply much of it. Others have now overtaken us. A few examples:

Science forgotten will be science repeated

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana

Over the years it has been observed multiple times that we have spent much time and effort doing research to solve our problems, but all to often the content of the report generated sit on a self and molder, not implemented and eventually forgotten, until another project is initiated to solve the original problem.

In an effort to play it’s part in helping to counter act this the BSTA will be publishing the proceedings of its Annual technical conferences here in a series call “From the Archives” , so that they will be accessible to any who may be interested in finding out what has been done before to address the problems in agriculture.

Agri-Notes – Food Security

Recent experiences following hurricanes in the USA and Caribbean, where some persons didn’t have access to food for two or more days, have highlighted the importance of “food security”. This is further bolstered by the ever increasing world population that is rapidly approaching 8 billion, a whopping 11% of whom, according to the FAO, are already experiencing some degree of hunger.

Any food  policy must consider stability or resilience to future disruption or unavailability of critical food supply due to various threats or risk factors including  lack of foreign exchange, droughts, floods , shipping disruptions, fuel shortages, economic instability, and wars. Continue reading