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Arable pest and disease incidence and crop protection practice monitoring - CH0206

Defra have funded annual monitoring of disease and pest levels and agronomic practice in winter wheat and winter oilseed rape for over thirty years. Information about the variables that influence production and sustainability have been collected, measured and collated to provide a unique robust dataset. This project will generate information and measurements for 2014-2015, maintaining and extending these unique data resources for winter sown wheat and oilseed rape, which are the two most important combinable crops in the UK.
Survey of diseases and aphids in winter wheat: Assessments of foliar, stem base and ear diseases were undertaken annually on 300 winter wheat crop samples. Fields were selected at random from a list of farms stratified by region and arable area from annual returns to Defra Census Branch. Farmers will be contacted in late spring, and crops sampled at GS 73-75 (July) by collecting 50 fertile tillers at random from a diagonal transect of the field. Samples collected by ADAS and TAG and sent to Fera for assessment. A questionnaire will be used to obtain details of cultivar, tillage practice, sowing date, previous cropping and pesticide use. A random sub-sample of 25 tillers assessed for foliar, stem-base and ear diseases. The survey of aphids utilised a subset of 40 crops which had not been sprayed with insecticide prior to assessment. The crops will be assessed for aphids once in the summer at around the flowering (approximately GS 61-70) to milky ripe stage (GS 71+).
Monitoring of incidence of fusarium pathogens causing fusarium ear blight symptoms in wheat: The methodology for visual assessments for fusarium head blight will be as described for the wheat survey. Isolations to identify the specific pathogens present carried out on all symptoms of fusarium ear blight (FEB) found on survey samples. Isolates of F. culmorum and F. graminearum were chemotyped to determine whether they were likely to produce deoxynivalenol (DON) or nivalenol (NIV) within infected grains. Data will be used to inform risk forecasts for mycotoxin contamination in grain which will be published on the CropMonitorTM website.
Survey of diseases and pests of winter oilseed rape: One hundred crops of oilseed rape were selected annually at random from a list of farms stratified by region and arable area from annual returns to Defra Census Branch. The same crop will be sampled three times during the season: in the autumn at mid-leaf production, in the spring at early stem extension, and in the summer at pod ripening. In both the autumn and spring, plants were assessed for foliar and root diseases whereas samples in the summer will be assessed for the percentage total pod area with symptoms and the presence stem diseases (which were scored using a 0-4 scale to indicate the degree of girdling of the stem). Pests were assessed four times during the season using the same crops as for the disease assessment. In the autumn and spring, samples were examined in the laboratory for presence of cabbage stem flea beetle (Psylliodes chrysocephala) and rape winter stem weevil larvae (Ceutorhynchus picitaris). The full sample of 100 crops was assessed in the autumn, and a random, stratified sub-set of 50 samples were assessed in the spring.

Data analyses: All assessment and agronomic data (cultivar, sowing date, previous cropping and pesticide use) will be entered onto an Informix database holding all data collected in national surveys of winter wheat and winter oilseed rape undertaken over the last 30 years. The annual survey has continued to monitor the national, regional fluctuations in disease and pest pressures over the period of the project. The value of these data is exploited across a wide range of associated research projects, funded by Defra and other stakeholders. Analyses of the trends in pest and disease incidence, agronomic practice and pesticide use in the years 2009 to 2011 were reported in summary format on the CropMonitorTM website (
General objective
To measure changes in pest and pathogen prevalence, and monitor trends in agronomic practice for pest and disease management, to inform evidence-based policy making within Defra.

Specific objectives
1. Collect statistically robust data on annual disease levels in winter wheat (300 crops) and winter oilseed rape (100 crops) and monitor trends and responses in agronomic practice, including pesticide use
2. Measure the seasonal and regional significance of fusarium head blight (FHB) pathogens in each year to assist in development of risk assessments for mycotoxin contamination in harvested wheat grain
3. Collect statistically robust data on annual pests levels in winter oilseed rape (100 crops autumn and spring; 50 untreated crops in the summer) and winter wheat (50 untreated crops at GS61-71)
4. Consolidate and enhance existing long-term datasets to ensure important data resources are maintained and utilised in summary outputs to stakeholders
5. Undertake data analysis, knowledge transfer and additional collaborative research activities to further develop techniques and analyses to support sustainable policy development within Defra

Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2015

To: 2015

Cost: £149,955
Contractor / Funded Organisations