Integrated Crop Management and crop protection

25 February 2022

Integrated Crop Management (ICM) is a long-term strategy for farming that focuses on the balance between profitability, quality of produce and environmental considerations.

With global challenges such as climate change and a growing population, combined with more local ones such as support payments in the UK becoming connected to environmental work, ICM could provide farmers with a more resilient, sustainable option.

For ICM to work effectively, practices have to be changed across the farm and not just be limited to a specific field. Careful planning and monitoring is a must, as well as embracing technological advancements to help aid this.

ICM has an emphasis on maintenance of soil health, diversity of wildlife and minimising waste, promoting the use of natural fertilisers such as organic manures and renewable sources of energy. But where does crop protection, which often relies on the use of fungicides, fit in?

Whilst environmental considerations are a pillar of ICM, so too is profitability and quality. The use of chemicals is often the best choice against disease, so ICM strategies don’t recommend total exclusion of chemicals. If this was the case, quality and yield would be compromised.

They do, however, encourage target specific treatments to prevent damage to other organisms, that breakdown quickly to minimise environmental impact. Care in choosing the method of application is also recommended.

Making informed decisions around the timing and dose of fungicides is key. This is where SwiftDetect, a rapid crop diagnostic test, can help. Able to test down to a few pathogen cells with results in just 1 business day, SwiftDetect provides users with almost a real-time snapshot into the level of disease in their crop.

In turn, more informed decisions can be made regarding dose and type of fungicide, tailoring treatment to disease levels rather than blanket spraying. Likewise, spray timings can be adjusted according to level of disease rather than growth stage. This leads to a more efficient and effective use of chemicals, saving money, protecting crops and helping the environment.

A final application of SwiftDetect in ICM is the ability to use the data to understand how disease progresses in crops over time by repeating the test over the course of the season. This information will help support future planning.

Whether you already have an ICM strategy in place or just want actionable insight into the level of disease in your crop, learn more about SwiftDetect today.