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Cereal disease databases - AR0508

Within DEEFRA, accurate information on the current incidence of cereal diseases and their effects on cereal production and value and on longer term changes in their status in response to farming practice is essential. Losses from uncontrolled disease in winter wheat and barley in England and Wales are estimated to be up to £100mper year. Overall disease levels in these crops vary from year to year with outbreaks of particular diseases closely linked to crop characteristics and weather conditions. Nevertheless, each year some £87m is spent on fungicides to prevent or control major stem, leaf and ear diseases. New, protective, fungicides coming onto the market are likely to alter control options and patterns of use.

Annual crop disease surveys have been conducted since 1970 for winter wheat and 1981 for winter barley and, combined with up-to-date research on disease epidemiology and crop loss assessment, now provide an extensive database on the economic importance of particular diseases in relation to seasonal or cropping effects, cultivars and commonly used fungicide programmes. It has been found that in many cases, fungicides are not being used cost effectively or at the optimum timing.

This project will provide surveys for 2002/03 and topical information on major and any newly emerging cereal diseases. The data gathered will indicate which diseases dominate crop management in terms of crop profitability and effectiveness of control and so assist in ascertaining new research priorities for DEFRA and industry, including HGCA. Assessment, from survey data, of the seasonal differences in disease incidence also directly supports ongoing disease epidemiology programmes by helping to devise and test disease forecasts and advice on spray timing. In the longer term, shifts in frequency of disease outbreaks and severity may reflect persistent changes in crop husbandry or climate. Viewed over a period, survey results can illustrate to what extent research findings and decision support systems are being adopted by farmers and are leading to improvements in disease control and reductions in unnecessary fungicide use.

The surveys also provide a framework of cereal field visits and sampling to which more specific DEFRA or HGCA studies (fungicide resistance, quality and mycotoxin surveys, etc) can be linked at lower cost than stand-alone studies. Because the Disease Surveys are annual, fungicide use details (and other inputs) fill gaps between the biennial Arable Crops DEFRA Pesticide Usage Surveys and also indicate actual levels of disease present, an important factor affecting prevailing fungicide inputs.

There is a well-established and statistically soundly based methodology associated with fully stratified surveys of both wheat and barley (as agreed at the outset with Statisticians at IACR-Rothamsted). This is substantiated by publication of regular updates (5-10 years) in peer-reviewed journals for which scientific consistency and continuity are of major importance. Annually, samples taken on one occasion between grain watery ripe to medium milk development stage (GS 71- 75) are obtained by ADAS field staff from at least 300 crops each of both winter wheat and barley. Standard assessments are made at CSL. Site and crop husbandry data, including all pesticide use, are also recorded at CSL.

Annual reports will highlight national and regional significance of the main diseases, policy implications and annual and longer term trends and will be made available to DEFRA, researchers, HGCA and industry.

(i) To monitor the incidence and severity of cereal diseases.

(ii) To identify national and regional in-season, cross-year, meteorological, husbandry, and pesticide relationships with cereal diseases.

(iii) To identify the influence of technology transfer on disease levels and inputs.

(iv) To collate and interpret results for:
reports to DEFRA, with edited reports to collaborators and other interested parties and co-operating farmers further analysis for policy purposes, R&D needs, etc. and disseminate results through appropriate publications and meeting opportunities.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Cereal disease databases   (257k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2001

To: 2003

Cost: £591,688
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Central Science Laboratory
Arable Farming              
Cereal Production              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study
Arable Crops