A new digital service designed to help growers and agronomists predict the likelihood of crop pest and disease outbreaks on their farms has been launched by agri-tech centre CHAP.
It goes further by providing field-level risk predictions for a range of pests and diseases that affect winter wheat, winter oilseed rape and potatoes.
The CropMonitor Pro decision support service is a collaboration between CHAP (Crop Health and Protection) and Fera and has been in development since 2017. It has been funded by Innovate UK as part of the UK Agri-tech Strategy.
Analytical tools are becoming increasingly popular for growers. Retailers, agrochemical companies and government are all looking to better predict the risk of pest and disease outbreaks to mitigate against supply chain shortages, predict sales and encourage environmental stewardship.
For the grower, a better understanding of the level of pest and disease risk can ensure pesticides are only applied when required.
This will not only offer immediate savings on both chemical applications and operational expenditure but will also reduce the threat of resistance against an increasingly limited arsenal of available crop protection products.
CHAP CEO Fraser Black said:
Developing tools to support the sustainable use of pesticides is critical not only to improve the bottom line of our growers but also to protect our environment and halt the rapid rise of pesticide resistance emerging in the UK.
CropMonitor Pro will deliver real financial benefits to growers and agronomists while also protecting the environment.
CropMonitor Pro estimates infection risk by analysing the complex relationship between weather, crop growth stage, management practices and disease or pest characteristics. It uses a simple traffic light system to show crop susceptibility and suggests optimum times to spray – and when to avoid spraying – for up to four days ahead with up to 85% accuracy.
The system benefits from almost 20 years of historical winter wheat disease data: models which could be validated against this dataset were shown to have a false negative rate of less than 15%.
Fera CEO Dr Andrew Swift said:
After several years of development work, we are excited to launch the CropMonitor Pro service with CHAP. It is our hope that CropMonitor Pro becomes a vital tool for the industry to improve profitability while helping to protect our natural ecosystems.
The system launched on 14th September for growers and agronomists and will be available directly through www.cropmonitor.co.uk on a subscription basis.
Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) is funded by Innovate UK and is one of four UK Agri-Tech Centres.
CHAP’s vision is for the UK to be a global leader in the development of applied Agri-Technologies, to help secure our future by nourishing a growing population sustainably while delivering economic, environmental and health benefits to society.
CHAP acts as a unique, independent nexus between UK government, researchers and industry, building innovation networks to identify and accelerate the development of cutting-edge solutions to drive incremental, transformative and disruptive changes in sustainable crop productivity.