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Tuber Talk: Have you monitored our pest investment?

22 October 2018

More chemistry has fallen foul of the approvals process this year. With some pest targets becoming resistant to what’s left and the crop protection pipeline drier than a 2018 summer, it’s no wonder interest in integrated pest management (IPM) has piqued. But IPM is a broad church and research funds are limited, so AHDB is asking people to complete a short survey to focus its investment in this area.

The ability to identify pest targets accurately and to know when they have gone, or are likely to go, above economic damage thresholds, is at the heart of IPM. In 2014, AHDB published the ‘Encyclopaedia of pests and natural enemies in field crops’ to help crop walkers identify pests, as well as to inform them about risk factors, life cycles, monitoring, control thresholds, non-chemical control and insecticide resistance status.

By the time pests have been observed in the field, however, the optimum time to spray could have been missed. This conundrum has fuelled investment in pest forecasts, risk models and monitoring services to provide a ‘heads up’ warning of what pest pressures might lie ahead. Some pest monitoring services, in fact, stretch back decades. The Rothamsted Insect Survey, for example, has tracked aphid migrations via its UK network of suction traps for over 50 years.

Time for a review

Even though some pest monitoring services have been on the scene for longer than many can remember, it is important to review their relevance. Priorities change and new services appear.

The AHDB-supported Crop Health and Protection Centre (CHAP), for example, is ‘updating and enhancing’ monitoring activity for pests (and diseases) of wheat, barley, oilseed rape and potatoes. CHAP already uses its weather monitoring network, national pest and disease surveillance data and risk models to provide regular updates via cropmonitor. Next year, CHAP plans to launch risk forecasting services too, which is likely to form part of a subscription service.

With pests being monitored in so many ways, now is a good time to have your say on how AHDB invests in this area.

Andrew Skea, chair of the Pre Basic Growers Association said: “Those of us producing seed crops are vigilant when it comes to the numbers and species 
of virus spreading aphids in our area. Effective pest monitoring means growers can track risk to the crop and ensure pesticides are only used when needed.

“I encourage potato growers to have their say in this survey to ensure AHDB’s investment in monitoring pests such as the peach-potato aphids continues.”

Resistance management information updated

The Insecticide Resistance Action Group (IRAG) has updated its guidance. Available from the AHDB website, the updates cover Brassicas, cereals, oilseed rape and potatoes. A new publication, outlining the general principles of resistance management, has also been issued.

Jason Pole Marcomms Manager – Cereals & Oilseeds.


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