What you can learn from SwiftDetect rapid crop disease test

21 May 2021

Being the first commercially available crop disease test of its kind, you might be wondering what you can get out of using SwiftDetect. If that’s the case, read on!

First, what is SwiftDetect?

SwiftDetect is a new rapid test, developed to detect even low levels of crop disease, currently for wheat and barley. Before SwiftDetect, growers had no way to identify devastating diseases in their crop until visible signs emerged, by which time it is often too late to save the crops. However, by simply ordering SwiftDetect online, collecting a sample of 10 leaves and posting it to Microgenetics in an envelope, growers can now gain actionable insight into the level of disease in their crop in just 1 business day*.

That’s not all. SwiftDetect is also being developed for other crops and diseases including Light Leaf spot in Oilseed Rape. For now, though, let’s have a look at what you could learn from SwiftDetect for Ramularia in barley, or Septoria, Yellow Rust, Brown Rust and Mildew in wheat.

Early warning

The first clear benefit of SwiftDetect is the ability to gain early warning of the disease. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to disease control is not being aware of infection until visible signs emerge. With Septoria, for example, there is a long latent period of around 28 days. By the time visible symptoms emerge, up to 50% of yield could be lost.

By receiving an early warning, growers are able to act sooner and get the disease under control. This protects yield, as growers can act before disease spreads across the field. In addition, if the tests come back showing that no disease has been identified, or very low levels, a multisite and/or preventative fungicide can be used rather than the more expensive curative ones. This saves money and helps protect the environment.

Better use of fungicides

Linking into our above point, by using SwiftDetect, growers can make better choices when it comes to fungicides.

Fungicides are not only expensive but can also have an impact on the environment. Because of this, some effective treatments – including Chlorothalonil – have been banned. Moreover, plans to support farms with Government funding will be changing to include more of a focus on sustainability. Therefore, over-use of fungicides is likely to have a financial implication on growers in the future.

In addition to this, diseases like Septoria exhibit a degree of evolutionary mutation, meaning it keeps pace with innovation in fungicides. Eventually, they become resistant, so infections could quickly get out of control. This is especially problematic since the number of effective treatments on the market continues to decline, as more evidence into negative environmental impacts emerge.

By revealing the level of disease, SwiftDetect can help growers to use less fungicide and make more informed choices. This can help prevent over-use of fungicides, as the more expensive curative fungicides can be saved for when they are really needed. Using fungicides more efficiently and effectively will ultimately save money, help the environment and of course, protect yield.

Determine the effectiveness of fungicide treatments

If you are trying a new fungicide treatment, you might want to see for yourself how effective it is. By monitoring the level of disease in your crop over time with SwiftDetect, you’ll be able to do just that. You could use the test every fortnight on your crop, making a note of the log genome equivalents and studying any trends to see if your disease levels reduce. You could compare this to your results for another field where you use your usual treatment!

In fact, you don’t even need to be trying something new to justify trending your disease levels. Data is becoming increasingly important in agriculture, and the more data you collect, the better you can make your treatment plan for future years.

Test different varieties

If you would like to grow resistant varieties, you can use SwiftDetect to determine how resistant they actually are. In the SwiftDetect lab we have identified Septoria in varieties ranked highly on the AHDB list for resistance. Although, the levels have been lower compared to non-resistant varieties.

SwiftDetect could help you to identify which varieties are best for you to grow. It could also be used to answer questions such as the apparent length of latent periods for resistant varieties: are crops really resistant, or do they simply have a longer latent period?

Ready to order

By now, it should be clear to you just how much you can learn by using SwiftDetect. Costing just £70 per test, it could save you thousands on fungicides, whilst providing you with a deeper understanding of crop disease. In fact, one of our customers managed to save £4,000 as a result of using SwiftDetect!

Click here to order your tests today!