New technology is now available to help growers make informed management decisions before spraying their canola crops for the fungal disease sclerotinia.
With fungicides being one of the most expensive inputs throughout the life of a canola crop, growers need to be armed with all available information to help them make decisions that will provide the most profitable outcome at the end of the season.
The new GRDC-invested SclerotiniaCM app, available for this season, has been designed by researchers from the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and will provide growers with greater confidence when making significant financial decisions about fungicide during the flowering stage of a canola crop.
GRDC has also produced a video outlining sclerotinia management tactics and a podcast focusing on breeding efforts to develop resistant varieties to this disease.
A guide to Planning for the 2019 season in WA for sclerotinia can be found on the GRDC website.
DPIRD senior research officer Dr Art Diggle says the app is intended to support a conversation in the paddock between the grower and their adviser, providing probability outcomes for individual decisions in both data and graph formats.
He says the tablet-based app, suitable for both iOS and Android, allows growers to input site and season-specific information about their canola crops to produce a predicted financial outcome.
"There are a number of controls that you can change in the app to allow the outcomes to be site specific, such as soil type, target yield and grain prices, to name a few," he says.
"Importantly, the app needs to know the history of the paddock; that is, how many broadleaf crops have been grown in the last 10 years, the disease history of the paddock and how prevalent sclerotinia has been in the area in recent times."
The app will also need to know whether the paddock has already been sprayed for the disease, as well as information about recent, current and predicted weather events.
Importantly, the app needs to know the history of the paddock; that is, how many broadleaf crops have been grown in the last 10 years, the disease history of the paddock and how prevalent sclerotinia has been in the area in recent times.
"For example, (it needs to know) how many times it has rained in the past three weeks and how many wet days are predicted in the coming three weeks," Dr Diggle says.
"This information will have a bearing on how prevalent sclerotinia is likely to be in your canola crop and how worthwhile it will be to your end yield result to spray for the disease."
The app will provide a graphical outcome showing the best and worst-possible financial outcomes from a spray decision, including the most likely financial outcome from any decision made.
It will also provide comparison data on profit outcomes if a grower decides against spraying for the disease.
Dr Diggle says the app will help growers better understand disease in canola crops and potential outcomes.
"There are several high-cost management items in growing grain, with fertiliser and weed control two of the biggest," he says.
"Disease control is the next big one, but it's in this area where growers may not be as clear on what they should do, which is where this new app will play a major role for the industry."
(It needs to know) how many times it has rained in the past three weeks and how many wet days are predicted in the coming three weeks.
In some cases, Dr Diggle says, growers could be over-spending on fungicide to insure against yield loss.
"Our feedback is that, if a grower can protect their yield against an unknown amount of yield loss with a known upfront spend, then they will do this, even though it may not be the most profitable outcome," he says.
"We are hoping this app will help growers take out the guess work from these major decisions."
The app is currently only available for download on to a tablet (not a phone) but Dr Diggle says this may change in the future.
Growers and advisers can download the free app by visiting iTunes or Google Play.
GRDC Research Code: DAW1810-007RTX
More information: Dr Art Diggle, email@example.com