Virus-spreading aphids and the risk they pose to winter cereal crops are the subjects of a new £60,000 research project funded by Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
The announcement follows a call issued by the organisation earlier this year for targeted work on barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) risk in cereals to be carried out.
The research, which explores in-field aphid monitoring techniques and control approaches, will deliver results by next autumn – when cereals will be drilled without the protection afforded by a neonicotinoid seed treatment.
The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has been awarded the contract to lead the work.
Charlotte Rowley, who manages pest management work at AHDB, said: “GWCT has a strong track record of delivering practical approaches for farmers.
“They had also conducted preliminary trials on aphid monitoring approaches. This put the team in a strong position to deliver solutions in time for next autumn.”
Commercial and research trials will be used to test in-field monitoring approaches. The trials include the use of sticky traps designed to catch winged cereal aphids. The researchers will explore trap designs and placement.
Critically, the team will establish any relationship between the number of aphids trapped and the number flying.
Last month, AHDB released a BYDV management tool that can be used to predict when the critical second generation aphid offspring (and subsequent generations) are likely to spread through cereal crops.
Based on daily temperature data, such systems will be reviewed and ways to improve their accuracy identified.
Observations of BYDV levels in trials will be used to identify or confirm risk factors. Many factors will be investigated, including those relating to landscape characteristics, cultivation approaches and the presence of natural enemies.
Farmers and agronomists will be actively involved in the work, including the provision of trial sites and opinion, to ensure project outcomes are relevant to industry.
Ms. Rowley said: “Full-rate pyrethroid sprays can provide effective control of aphids but they are becoming resistant. At present, this is limited to moderate levels of resistance in grain aphids.
Knowledge about BYDV risk needs to be improved, to make sure sprays are only ever used as a last resort.
Further information on the project can be accessed on the AHDB Cereals website.