A range of smart phone and tablet apps and online tools, developed in conjunction with Australian plant pathologists and grains researchers, are helping farmers to identify crop diseases and construct appropriate management plans with just the push of a button.
With smart phone and tablet adoption by farmers now exceeding that of the general population, more and more growers are actively seeking electronic tools and technologies that are both useful and user-friendly.
Below is a selection of some useful tools for disease management.
The Sclerotinia management App, SclerotiniaCM, was launched at the GRDC Perth Research Updates, in February 2019. It was developed by the Disease epidemiology and management tools for Australian grain growers project led by Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and co-invested by GRDC.
Sclerotinia is a difficult disease to manage in canola as spray decisions are best made before the disease visibly develops in crop. The disease has three trigger points that require the weather being conducive: 1) sclerotia to germinate to form apothecia, 2) petal infection and 3) crop infection when petals drop into the canopy. Sometimes disease does not eventuate because of dry weather during any of these three stages.
Currently growers apply fungicide to control Sclerotinia in canola crops based on previous disease severity in a paddock and current weather conditions. Advisers want more guidance on fungicide application decision making. The development of SclerotiniaCM aims to deliver an iPad and Android tablet-based app to help with spray decisions to manage Sclerotinia stem rot of canola. SclerotiniaCM will provide evidence-based information that estimates returns from spraying for individual paddocks.
The app will support users to make the most profitable decisions about fungicide use to manage Sclerotinia stem rot in canola, taking into account costs, yield benefits, grain price, and seasonal conditions to give you best case, worst case and most likely estimates of financial return. It is designed for quick and efficient use with clients in the field and produces results that are tailored for individual paddocks and generates email reports right from the field.
GrowNotes™ Alert is an innovative tool, jointly developed by Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR). It is a free nationwide system for delivering urgent, actionable and economically important disease, pest, weed and biosecurity issues directly to you, the grower, adviser and industry body, the way you want. Real-time information from experts across Australia, to help growers increase profitability.
Disease, weeds and pests costs growers billions annually in losses to valuable income and potential food to feed a growing population. Knowing what is present, and where, is valuable intelligence that growers and industry can use to reduce this. Reporting is often based on limited data and different intelligence gathering. GrowNotes™ Alert will build on existing processes to develop a standard operating procedure between organisations, ensuring a consistent approach to analysing threats.
A GrowNotes™ Alert notification can be delivered via SMS, email, web portal or via an App for your smart devices. There are also three dedicated regional Twitter handles – @GNAlertNorth, @GNAlertSouth and @GNAlertWest – that can also be followed.
The CropScout app was released on July 31, 2017 by Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) entomologist Dusty Severtson for iOS and Andriod stores as part of the MyPestGuide suite of apps. It uses the canola aphid sequential sampling plan, which is designed to decrease the number of plant inspections required to assess aphids in canola and assist growers and consultants with making the decision to spray insecticides or not.
Cabbage and turnip aphids are often aggregated along crop edges where they have initially colonised the crop (unless the crop is patchy or has been moisture stressed during colonisation). The user inspects canola plants in a transect starting along crop edges, and the CropScout app automates the calculations in the background and stops when there is 90% confidence that the areas sampled are either
- above threshold (mapped as red),
- below threshold (mapped as green) and
- below but close to threshold (mapped as amber).
Maps produced on the phone and on the user’s CropScout online personal page are displayed as coloured polylines, enabling a whole-paddock or multi-paddock view of where crops were inspected for aphids and what the spray threshold results were for those locations. The accuracy (error) and threshold may be changed in the settings.
The Blackleg management App, BlacklegCM, was launched at the GRDC Perth Research Updates, in February 2018. It was developed by the National pathogen modelling project (led by Jean Galloway, DPIRD, Northam) and co-invested by GRDC.
Blackleg stem canker is a serious disease of canola across Australia. The best approach to manage blackleg in any situation depends on many factors including variety choice, yield potential, proximity to canola stubble from previous years, and several fungicide options. All of these factors have implications for costs and returns.
Although the current Blackleg Management Guide provides much useful information, it has some limitations in its current paper form. It is difficult to consider complex interactions. Consequently, there has been a need to develop a management tool that can provide disease forecasting based on the management principles proposed by the manager of an individual paddock.
BlacklegCM is a tool designed to assist growers and consultants to determine the best and most profitable management strategy to reduce blackleg disease and increase profits, accounting for the major factors that influence blackleg severity. The user can specify factors relating to paddock selection, seasonal conditions, prices and management options so that the output relates to their cropping circumstance. Therefore, the user can explore their options for disease control and understand the relative importance of each factor.
Below you can see Steve Marcroft, Marcroft Grains Pathology, explain the value of the BlacklegCM app and how you can use it to compare management strategies for your canola crop.
The Australian Field Crop Disease Guide app allows the user to quickly identify crop diseases; compare disease-resistance ratings for cereal, pulse and oilseed varieties; and, potentially, facilitate the early detection of exotic crop diseases.
The app brings together disease resistance ratings, disease information and also features an extensive library of quality images that make it easier for growers to diagnose crop diseases and implement timely management strategies. Live feeds from the Australian National Variety Trials (NVT) database means the apps is always up to date with the latest varieties.
If a disease cannot be identified there is also a function that allows the user to take a photo of their crop and email it to a friend or an advisor.
The precursor for this app was the Victorian DEDJTR Crop Disease app developed by a team of grains pathologists. The new Crop Disease Au app functions similarly to the previous DEDJTR app but provides information for all Australian grain growing regions. An explanation of how to use the DEDJTR Crop Disease app is delivered by DEDJTR plant pathologist Frank Henry in the YouTube clip below.
Released by DAFWA and funded by the GRDC, MyCrop is a collection of interactive tools that can be accessed online or via apps that enable users to diagnose wheat, canola, barley, lupin, oat and field pea production constraints while in the field.
The main feature is an intuitive diagnostic key, which quickly diagnoses a range of possible constraints based on real-time crop and paddock symptoms. Covering a broad range of disease, pest and other agronomic issues, MyCrop can help users to accurately identify constraints and determine possible management solutions.
Key features include:
- Extensive image library and constraint factsheets.
- Selecting paddock and plant clues to easily identify the likely cause of cropping problems.
- Over 150 constraints ranging from pests and diseases to soil deficiencies, environmental and management factors.
- Online diagnostic tools
The following diagnostic tools are available on the DAFWA website:
- Barley diagnostic tool
- Canola diagnostic tool
- Field pea diagnostic tool
- Lupin diagnostic tool
- Oat diagnostic tool
- Wheat diagnostic tool
There is an individual app available for each of the following crop types. These apps include the relevant diagnostic tool and work offline, so are always available even in the most remote locations.
- MyCrop Wheat (iOS, Android)
- MyCrop Barley (iOS, Android)
- MyCrop Canola (iOS, Android)
- MyCrop Pulses (iOS, Android)
To see DAFWA development officer Kelly Ryan demonstrate how to use the MyCrop diagnostic tool, watch the clip below.
DEDJTR and GRDC’s newly released online tool CropPro has diagnostic and economic features that allow growers to efficiently identify and manage constraints to both crop productivity and profitability.
The core functions of CropPro are to diagnose the cause of wheat and canola crop problems, support risk analysis and provide evidence-based information for management of crop constraints. It combines paddock and crop symptoms in one resource, enabling users to work through a simple process of elimination.
CropPro also has an economic feature allowing growers to compare return-on-investment outcomes for different management options and an Agronomist Toolkit that includes an extensive list of resources, online decision support tools and apps.
For the first time the Field Crop Diseases Manual is available online! This provides an all-in-one resource for disease identification, biology and management information for cereal, pulse and oilseed crops. The manual is written and maintained by leading subject experts from DEPI and Marcroft Grains Pathology, and provides a detailed exploration of diseases and the influence of pest and abiotic factor.
A series of economic videos also feature on CropPro, providing growers with clear information about how management decisions might influence their profitability. Episode 1 – Risk can be viewed below.