Growers and agronomists have a new digital tool to assess crop pests and diseases and suggest the best time to spray, up to four days in advance, with 85% accuracy.
The service – Crop Monitor Pro – will give field-level risk prediction for a range of pests and diseases affecting winter wheat, winter oilseed rape and potatoes.
It will cost growers £180/year for their first field and then £60 for any subsequent fields, but hopefully the cost will come down in the future as the system gets up and running.
The service is a collaboration between publicly funded Crop Health and Protection (Chap) and science group Fera, and extends the Defra-funded regional risk evaluation service (Crop Monitor) first launched by Fera in 2003.
The system will estimate infection risk by analysing weather, crop growth stage, management practices and disease or pest characteristics.
It uses a simple traffic light system to show crop susceptibility and suggest optimum times to spray, and benefits from almost 20 years of historical winter wheat disease data.
Fraser Black, chief executive officer of Chap, says the service will deliver real financial benefits to growers and agronomists, while also protecting the environment.
“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,” he said.
Fera, formerly the Food and Environment Research Agency, is a joint private/public sector venture between Defra and support services group Capita.
The system launched this month and will be available directly through the Crop Monitor website on a subscription basis.