A new digital tool to help growers and agronomists predict the likelihood of pest and disease outbreaks on farms has launched.
The CropMonitor Pro service has been developed by agricultural research body Fera Science Limited and Crop Health and Protection (Chap).
Funded by Innovate UK as part of the UK Government’s agri-tech strategy, the tool is an improved version of the long-standing regional risk evaluation service, Crop Monitor, which launched in 2003.
The new service will provide field-level risk prediction for a range of pests and diseases affecting winter wheat, winter oilseed rape and potatoes.
It will estimate infection risk by analysing a number of factors including weather, crop growth stage, management practices and disease or pest characteristics.
Chap and Fera claim the tool, which uses a traffic light system, can provide data on crop susceptibility and advice on when to spray up to four days ahead with up to 85% accuracy.
They say this will help growers cut costs and reduce pesticide resistance by only applying sprays to crops when they are needed, and also help those in the pesticide supply chain predict high sales periods and mitigate against shortages.
“Developing tools to support the sustainable use of pesticides is critical not only to improve the bottom line for our growers but also to protect our environment and halt the rapid rise of pesticide resistance emerging in the UK,” said Chap chief executive officer Fraser Black.
“CropMonitor Pro will deliver real financial benefits to growers and agronomists while also protecting the environment.”
Fera chief executive officer Dr Andrew Swift said the service was available on a subscription basis through cropmonitor.co.uk
He said: “It is our hope that CropMonitor Pro becomes a vital tool for the industry to improve profitability while helping to protect our natural ecosystems.”