26 July 2001
Computers can save on blight control
By FARMERS WEEKLY staff
COMPUTER profiling of blight risk can help protect potato crops and has cut control costs, visitors to a British Potato Council Open Day have been told.
But growers must still use common sense to make the final judgements over spray programmes, warned Howard Hinds, of DMA Crop Consultants.
“Profiling is a useful tool, but tools should help growers make decisions, not replace their thinking altogether,” he said.
Blight control costs dropped from an estimated 70/ha to 21/ha in BPC reference crops where the Plant-Plus blight forecasting project has been under evaluation.
The software uses agronomic data, weather forecasts and local sources of blight infection to assess crop risk and then formulates a spray programme.
Once treatments have been applied the model assumes blight risk has diminished to zero, but compensates by making no allowance for carry-over protection.
Across all four BPC reference crop sites, the Plant-Plus system is showing savings in spray bills, compared with conventional practice.