Overuse of plant protection products has numerous repercussions; the resistance of pests, diseases and weeds to chemical treatment, damage to the environment, and it can be expensive to farmers. This project investigates the baseline amount of fungicide required for growing wheat.
  • Dates4 September 2017-2020
  • SponsorAHDB, Douglas Bomford Trust, Frontier Agriculture and Silsoe Spray Applications Unit
  • Funded£133,000

The crop-canopy structure, and how the dose of fungicide is received within the canopy will be investigated using the new imaging glasshouse whilst UAV’s and satellite imagery will be collected to understand spatio-temporal variation in wheat crop canopies at field-scale. Combining these two techniques will allow better insight into spray deposition within the canopy and, when and where savings can be made.

Crop spraying - why do we still chose uniformity?

The call for the reduction of pesticides has been made. Yet the food production industry has an increasing demand to meet the needs of the consumer.

Wheat production covers 220 million hectares worldwide, and its adaptability to a number of environments makes it a versatile crop. Due to this demand, there is a balance needed between the use of environmentally damaging plant protection products and the need for food production. Security is needed in the future of food production.

The current approach to spraying plant protection products is a ‘blanket prophylactic’ and treating entire fields as uniform. Uniformity is not a reality. Spraying in such a way does not reflect variations from within; a field, the canopy structure or the age of the plant. This current approach leads to a loss of efficacy, disease resistance and the leaching of waste chemicals which can cause damage to the environment.

Investigation to find the baseline

The UK PACE scheme has created a variable rate application of pesticides for orchards. A new project at Cranfield University is looking into how the principles of this scheme could be applied to wheat crops. The project will investigate the baseline amount of fungicide required for the size and structure of a variety of wheat crops.

Phase one of this project will focus on fully understanding the crop canopy structure, and how the dose of fungicide is received within the canopy. This stage of the research will explore how to reduce the dosage without affecting the strength of the fungicide.

Phase two of this project aims to understand the spatio-temporal variation in wheat crop growth and development at field scale, using precision agriculture methods. By monitoring these factors, a more accurate assessment of the crop can be made and therefore a more appropriate dose can be applied. This project will also look at the risks associated with the move away from traditional spraying regimes.