From Crop Protection to Crop Health
Professor Rob Edwards is Head of Newcastle University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development and chairs Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s Farmer Scientist Network.
My scientific career has been focused on finding ways of protecting our crops from pests and diseases. Over the past few decades we have been very successful in doing that, but in more recent years two serious issues have arisen: concerns about the environmental and health effects of modern pesticides and increasing resistance of pathogens to the pesticides we use. The latter has been a particular problem in controlling fungal diseases affecting wheat.
That’s why, just like the NHS, we are looking at alternatives with more emphasis on enhancing the health of crops rather than treating disease. The Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s Farmer -Scientist Network brings together scientific and practical expertise to push forward innovation and new technology in agriculture. A grant from the European Innovation Programme for Agriculture (EIP-AGRI) is enabling the Network to carry out trials, looking at different approaches to crop protection.
Working with a group of farmers and technologists we are comparing the effectiveness of synthetic and “biologic” products on different wheat varieties’ disease resistance, yield and quality. The trials are taking place at three sites: Stockbridge Technology Centre in Yorkshire and Newcastle University’s Cockle Park and Nafferton farms in Northumberland. By using three different sites we are also able to test performance on different soils and in varied climatic conditions.
The biologic reagents are micro-organisms used to coat seeds before sowing or sprayed onto the plant. They work, rather like probiotics in human medicine, to strengthen the plant’s natural resistance. These are relatively new to the UK but likely to become widely available over the next few years.
The research will continue over the next two years, with open days when farmers and anyone who is interested can come and learn about the trial. The results will be widely disseminated as they could help ensure our food security in future. In the meantime, if you want to know more, please contact the project coordinator, Holly Jones at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society: Email: Hollyj@yas.co.uk
Within this project, Rob will be acting as the Lead/Scientific Coordinator of the project.
Dr Phillip Davis
Applied Photobiologist, Stockbridge Technology Centre.
Within this project,
Philip will be a Technical Specialist and
Test Site Lead for Stockbridge
Project updates as they happen
7th February 2018 – Nafferton Farm Spring Wheat trial photos
Progress photos of the Spring Wheat trial site at Nafferton Farm.
7th February 2018 – Cockle Park Farm Spring Wheat trial photos
Progress photos of the Spring Wheat trial site at Cockle Park Farm. The crop growing well. The project team are due to meet on the 22nd February to discuss spray regimes.
11th January 2018 – Trail plots at Stockbridge Technology Centre
Trial sites at Stockbridge Technology Centre. So far the crop has good establishment. The ground is wet but not too bad for this time of year.
The project will focus on it’s spray program for 2018.
2nd January 2018 – Trial plot at Nafferton site
The trial plot at Nafferton, University of Newcastle
19th December 2017 – Farmers Guardian
Following our conference last month there was a write up of the project details in the Farmers Guardian: https://www.fginsight.com/news/trials-show-biopesticide-potential-47360
9th December 2017 – Spore diagnostic equipment
Following on from the conference last month, discussions continue as to how the project could utilise spore diagnostic equipment to pre-empt disease periods. The operational group hope to obtain a device to monitor this in the New Year.
The Spore diagnostic equipment would be able to identify:
- Septoria – tritici but also nodorum
- Rusts – yellow (brown to a lesser extent)
- Tan Spot
- Powdery Mildew