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Decision-making tools tailor-made to local conditions are underway

Scientists from Aarhus University are collaborating with other European scientists on developing improved decision support tools that can help optimize disease control in the Nordic-Baltic region.

[Translate to English:] Bladpletsygdomme i korn er økonomisk vigtige at bekæmpe. Foto: E. Fløistad, NIBIO

Scientists from the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University are participating in a new European project that aims to provide cereal farmers in the Nordic-Baltic region with better models for predicting leaf spot diseases in wheat and barley by choosing and improving user-friendly, locally adapted disease prediction models, made available to the farmers through  locally adapted IPM tools. 

Wheat and barley are among the most widely produced agricultural crops in the Nordic-Baltic region and provide a source of nutrition for both animals and humans. However, spots, blotches and blemishes on the leaves of these important crops, can interfere with the most well laid plans and reduce the harvest significantly. These plant diseases are due to fungi that colonize and kill the plant tissue. The solution is integrated pest management (IPM), which includes intelligent use of fungicides.  

Improved management strategies can reduce the numbers of unnecessary fungicide sprayings and optimize timing of the required fungicide treatments. This can contribute to increased food production, better economy for the growers and decreased impact on the environment. 

The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy is the coordinator of the three-year project, called SpotIT, which involves scientists from six different research institutions in Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, Denmark and Finland. The project has a total budget of € 1,469,828 of which approximately € 1.3 mill. have been granted through C-IPM

The project will provide locally adapted disease forecasting models via a trans-national platform. This will allow cost-efficient development of locally adapted decision support systems in the country’s own language, thus facilitating the implementation of IPM.  

Getting to know farmer behavior and needs

The first step will be to characterize the end user groups and their preferences for leaf spot control strategies and decision support systems. The project partners will use this knowledge to gain an understanding of the motives behind farmers’ decision-making in relation to IPM tools and thereby optimize the precision and quality of pest management strategies. 

The next step will be to improve and validate risk prediction models for wheat and barley diseases based on field observations and historical data. The project will then develop decision support tools that accommodate local user needs and that are based on the local infrastructure and locally available weather data. 

- In the course of the project we will thoroughly test the current decision support systems in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries. We will select the best elements from them and find new ways to disseminate the results to the end users. Our hope is that by using this approach we can achieve greater impact compared to previous decision support systems, thus moving more in the direction of IPM, says the Danish participant in the project senior researcher Lise Nistrup Jørgensen from the Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University. 

For more information please contact Senior researcher Lise Nistrup Jørgensen, Department of Agroecology, email: lisen.jorgensen@agro.au.dk, telephone: +45 8715 8234, mobile: +45 2228 3352