Fera – supporting the agri-food industry
Fera has more than 100 years’ experience in delivering pest and disease identification services to a wide range of commercial growers and Government departments.
Employing 300 scientists at the National Agri-food Innovation Campus near York, Fera offers a suite of crop health services, resources, testing facilities and expertise to help improve yields, reduce costs and develop sustainable solutions.
Fera works with farmers, growers and the food industry to improve plant biosecurity to control new threats from plant pests and diseases, and develop better crop protection to manage existing threats.
Fera will be showcasing a range of capabilities, services and projects at The CropTec Show 2018.
Fera is world renowned for providing excellence in crop testing and diagnostic services. Its team includes expert bacterial, fungal, viral, insect, nematode and molecular diagnosticians and it has extensive expertise in the diagnosis and identification of pests and diseases.
Its work in crop testing includes the identification of plant pests and pathogens found in arable crops, vegetables, trees, ornamental plants, protected edibles, mushrooms, seeds, soft fruit and turf to water.
Fera’s CropMonitor™ service provides up-to-date information to growers to support them in making well-informed crop-treatment decisions.
The SMART Decision Support Service
Fera’s CropMonitor™ in partnership with the Crop Health and Protection Centre (CHAP) and supported by Innovate UK, is being enhanced 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.
The type of real-time information, forecasting and analysis offered by The SMART Decision Support Service at a local level is new to the industry and will allow farmers to be ‘ahead of the curve’ when managing crops.
Fera has developed a suite of direct soil tests that will allow farmers to understand the levels and distribution of pathogens in the field and anticipate the risk of disease before planting the next crop.
This can help with selection of the most suitable crop and variety for the available land and conditions as well as minimising the need for pesticides, potentially reducing costs and increasing yield.
Improvements in Fera’s methods to extract DNA from the soil means it can now handle larger, more representative, sample volumes up to 500g. This increases the accuracy of detection of soil borne pathogens.
The Big Soil Community
In 2018, Fera introduced a new initiative which is set to have a major impact on the understanding of soil health in the UK – giving farmers a valuable insight into the biodiversity of their soil microbial communities.
The Big Soil Community aims to break down the complexity of soil biology and develop an applied knowledge-base which will support farmers in unlocking the potential of soil health.
Fera has launched a new generation of spore trap device, which is set to make a major impact in crop surveillance. In one automated device it provides spore sampling, in-field pathogen detection and weather monitoring.
Self-generated reports of the results can be sent via satellite to a central hub for analysis in real-time, providing timely data that can be used for disease-prevention decisions.
The device, which is easy to use, can rapidly diagnose pathogens in the field using a DNA test called LAMP (Loop mediated isothermal amplification). It is faster, cheaper and simpler than sending samples for laboratory testing.
The devices can be controlled remotely so operators can decide to run the sampling process at a specific time or during specific weather conditions.
Fera’s insect monitoring capabilities provide the information to assess virus transmission risk helping growers to target insecticide applications more accurately to reduce costs and waste, optimise resources and improve yields.
Its focus areas include salad crops, oil seed rape, potato crops and carrots.
Fera’s Aphid Monitoring service provides information specifically for farmers to assess the risk of virus transmission, enabling better targeting of aphicide applications and other crop management interventions. Fera also provides the national yellow water trap aphid monitoring programme in seed potatoes for AHDB Potatoes.
Fera’s team of nematode experts provide a unique free-living nematode identification service, and offer nematode detection and consultancy advice for all sectors of agriculture and horticulture potentially reducing yield loss.
Fera houses one of world’s largest nematode collections, including type specimens and live culture standards. It has specialisms in both Potatoes Cyst Nematodes (PCN) and Plant-Parasitic Nematodes (PPNs).
For more information on Fera, visit https://www.fera.co.uk/