Early warning: the key to controlling Septoria

29 January 2021

Septoria is known to be the most damaging disease to wheat in the UK. It thrives in our climate, aided by wind and rain to spread across fields, resulting in yield losses of around 40% and a reduction in quality for the surviving crop. For wheat growers, controlling Septoria is of the utmost importance. 

Current challenges of Septoria control

Perhaps the biggest challenge with Septoria control is that it is often difficult to detect until it is too late. The infection has a long “latent period” of around 20 days, before being visible on the surface of leaves as brown lesions and black dots. As a result, growers are only aware of the infection when visible symptoms emerge, by which time treating the infection is all the more challenging.

Because Septoria is difficult to detect and treat once infection is present, growers turn to the use of fungicides to try and prevent infection. These harsh treatments are not only expensive for growers but also damaging to the environment; therefore, they have come under scrutiny by the EU, leading to previously popular products - such as Chlorothalonil – being banned.

In addition to this, Septoria exhibits a degree of evolutionary mutation; it keeps pace with innovation in fungicides, eventually becoming resistant to treatment. This resistance means that infection could quickly get out of control as there are fewer effective treatments available to use.

A further challenge is that, now the UK has left the EU, plans to support farms with Government funding will be changing to involve an environmental focus. The Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELM), for example, will involve the requirement of farmers to undertake environmental measures, in addition to providing “public goods”, in return for public money. 

Such measures will include a sustainable farming incentive, as well as local nature recovery and landscape recovery.   In the future, the over-use of fungicides is likely to result in more financial implications for growers, so now is the time to consider other, less damaging, options.

This is where SwiftDetect comes in!

SwiftDetect is a new super-sensitive rapid test, which can detect Septoria before it is visible on the leaf. Enabling wheat growers to be aware of the level of infection in their fields before it is too late.

With the insight SwiftDetect can provide, the fungicide and dose rate can be matched to the level of disease in the crops at T1 and T2. In turn, the efficiency and effectiveness of spray applications will be enhanced. Issues such as the overuse of fungicides will be reduced, saving money and reducing environmental impact, whilst maintaining crop quality.

SwiftDetect will also allow growers to see how the disease progresses in crops over time, enabling trends to be drawn which could be used to help support decision making. These trends could be critical to controlling Septoria now and in the future.

If you want to find out more about SwiftDetect and how it could help you to control Septoria, click here to get in touch!