Enhancement of CropMonitor™ takes decision making to a new level

Fera’s CropMonitor™ in partnership with the Crop Health and Protection Centre (CHAP) and supported by Innovate UK, is currently being extended to form a new national capability in decision support: The SMART Decision Support Service.

The SMART Decision Support Service will be an evolution of CropMonitor™ and will result in an improved service. It will deliver real-time risk forecasts for pests and diseases – enabling farmers to make informed decisions on crop management that could lead to reduced costs and increased yields.

The SMART Decision Support will use CropMonitorTM as the core platform to deliver risk forecasts for pests and diseases of wheat, barley, oilseed rape and potatoes. A bespoke weather monitoring network, national pest and disease surveillance data and advanced risk models will be brought to bear to achieve this.

This type of real-time information, forecasting and analysis at a local level is new to the industry and will allow farmers to be ‘ahead of the curve’ when managing crops.

The service is currently in its pilot phase and will launch as a paid for subscription service in March 2019. To express interest visit https://info.fera.co.uk/cropmonitor/

Registered users will benefit from the ability to make more informed decisions through provision of robust data that will deliver early warning/predictive information on disease. The SMART Decision Support Service will also help users to apply the most appropriate treatment at the optimal timing and dose which can improve efficacy of the treatment, and to make decisions that will support the environment due to the reduced volumes and numbers of pesticide sprays.

In addition, the timely delivery of insight provided by the SMART Decision Support Service can help to reduce the overall use of fungicides, decreasing the pressures for development of fungicide resistance and leading to increased yield and farm profitability.

Based near York, UK, Fera working with UK and international partners, governments and other public bodies, uses original thinking to innovate and deliver translational science that will protect and enhance food, plants, animals and the environment.

Dr Judith Turner, Principal Plant Pathologist at Fera and lead on the SMART Decision Support Service, said: “Farmers have for a long time benefitted from surveillance services that provide data on crop health, but typically these data are often available at the end of the season so can only be used to make risk estimates for the future crop, which could be impacted by a range of other factors. The benefit of the SMART Decision Support Service is that it provides information in a clear way that can be interpreted in real-time in order to enable decisions on crop treatments to be made immediately.”

Weekly monitoring is currently taking place to build up a robust wealth of information.

Fera’s CropMonitor™ service, with its current capabilities, will remain free of charge. This service provides up-to-date information to growers to support them in making well-informed crop-treatment decisions.

Fera collates and interprets data on the current geographic distribution of pathogens and pests, and to understand how they spread: this is collected from a network of live monitoring sites across the UK.

All the latest data is disseminated online via CropMonitor™, giving growers access to a range of risk tools, alerts and reports on any internet-connected device. This data empowers growers to make accurate decisions about when and where to use crop treatments, avoiding overuse and ensuring the treatment is appropriate to the current risk levels.

CropMonitor™’s capabilities include; an extended network of 30 sites to monitor untreated varieties of wheat, oilseed rape and barley; sampling of 300 commercially managed wheat and 100 oilseed rape crops to monitor fungicide and insecticide resistance; and monitoring of pests and diseases in potato crops.

CropMonitor™ uses weather data and forecasting provided by the Met office, as well as a Met station plus insect and spore traps at each site to gather data for new risk-forecasting models. Automated spore traps submit data to detect pathogens and can alert the grower in real-time.

Further releases of this free service will include modules delivering live regional risk forecasting for pests and diseases of barley (March 2019).

For more information on the SMART Decision Support Service and CropMonitorTM visit https://www.fera.co.uk/our-science/active-r-and-d/in-field-diagnostics

For more information on Fera, visit https://www.fera.co.uk

For more information on CHAP, visit http://chap-solutions.co.uk/