5 April 2002

Eye-in-the-sky can keep tabs on crop

A PROJECT to assess the feasibility of remote imaging has helped pin-point significant variations in crop growth and disease in a trial field at ADAS Boxworth.

The ADAS/Syngenta project aims to show whether field imaging can reveal variations that may go undetected by normal field walking, but which could benefit from differential inputs.

Images of crop development, gathered using NDVI crop reflectance technology, are now being used to target crop walking. Chemical and fertiliser applications will then be adjusted accordingly, using conventional application machinery.

Results of pre-T1 images of the 10ha of Tanker winter wheat show clear differences in tiller number, mainly according to drilling rate, with eyespot varying in response.

"I like this because it effectively gives you an application map," says ADASs disease expert Bill Clark. "It guides you to areas you wouldnt normally look at."

While 0.5 litres/ha of strobilurin Acanto (picoxystrobin) plus 0.3 litres/ha of Opus (epoxiconazole) looks like a likely blanket T1 fungicide for Septoria, eyespot will now be tackled differently.

Crop walking dense crop areas revealed 30% of tillers infected – well above the 20% eyespot threshold. So 0.6kg/ha of Unix (cyprodinil) will be added. But thinner areas have only 10% infection, so the eyespot activity of Acanto alone is considered sufficient.

Although some variability in lodging risk was indicated, it was not sufficient to warrant variable treatment.

Further images of the field during April, May and June will be used to aid future input decisions. &#42