Monday, 27 July 2009

Early Detection of Crop Disease

Motivation and Drivers

The prevention of yield loss from crop disease is a key factor in delivering food security. Existing infection monitoring programmes, based upon field-walking by agronomists or aerial/satellite imaging, are invariably too late to effect a remedial treatment. This project aims to deliver a wide-area network of pathogen specific sensors which will detect spore growth early enough to secure yields, but with minimum fungicide input.


The project will develop an in-field pathogen sensor. In this way local detection and treatment can be delivered at the farm level as well as wide-area, real-time, tracking / forecasting of disease progress.

Expected End Result

Crop yield protection from minimum fungicide input.

Research Undertaken so Far

Initial target pathogen and an exemplar crop have been identified for the early adoption of a technology platform. Business models scenarios developed for delivering maximum returns for growers through an integrated fungal detection and treatment service have been investigated. Pathogen / host interaction mechanism for a demonstrator disease has been developed.

Next Steps

Delivery (within 6 months) of a laboratory prototype sensor for a demonstrator fungal pathogen. Further validation and enhancement of the business offer with farmers prior to in-field testing. Identification of alternative pathogen / host relationships for broadening of the technology platform and research programme. Partners are sought to assist with these next steps, especially with respect to: co-creation of business models with retailers; alliances with telecoms providers; or early uptake trials with growers.

Research Partners and Principal Contacts

Prof Mike Turner, Organic Materials Innovation Centre, University of Manchester, UK
Dr Jon West, Rothamsted Research, UK
Dr Kim Hammond-Kosack, Rothamsted Research, UK
Dr Sarah Perfect, Jealotts Hill International Research Centre, Syngenta, UK
Tom Robinson, Syngenta Crop Protection (Fulbourn), UK
Dr Andrew Garman, Q-Futures, UK

Would you like to become a research partner? Are there other aspects of this research that we should be bringing in?