26 November 1999

Septoria alert goes high-tech

EARLY warning of the onset of periods of high risk for septoria spread in wheat can now be provided by an electronic sensor mounted on an in-field weather station.

By measuring the impact of rain droplets hitting a leaf canopy it is now possible to assess the likely "bounce-back" off the foliage, which is responsible for spreading the damaging fungus. From this likely trouble can be predicted.

The Precipitation Impact sensor has been developed jointly by Yorkshire-based AgMet and Aardwear for use on the AgMet Smartlog weather station.

"This breakthrough allows high risk periods for septoria spread to be identified and when plugged into our Metplan software the extent of the risk can be assessed," says the companys Mark Dimmick.

"The PI sensor, which measures the kinetic energy of rainfall, could help boost the precision of fungicide inputs to allow better targeting of chemical and a reduction in the amount needed. Its potential has recently been assessed in a two-year project at IACR Long Ashton." &#42