Two disease forecasting models make their National Fruit Show debut on Agrovista’s stand, part of a range of innovative technology being developed by the company.
Agrovista is developing and introducing many new techniques to help fruit growers target nutrition, irrigation and crop protection products more effectively, to meet the increasing demands of inputs legislation, protocols and consumer expectation.
Key among these offerings, which complement Agrovista’s leading armoury of conventional and biological controls, is Growers Choice Interactive (GCI).
This, Agrovista claims, is the most up-to-date online disease and pest forecasting service available for top fruit growers. It has already proved itself in many orchards around the country, helping growers achieve more timely, cost-effective control of apple scab and codling moth.
Now, thanks to the addition of two disease forecasting models that make their National Fruit Show debut, growers can also improve control of fireblight and canker.
GCI is based on thorough monitoring of crops coupled with the latest computer modelling techniques to ensure efficient, timely and effective use of plant protection products, says Agrovista agronomist Alex Radu.
“The service uses weather data from a network of stations, which is updated every few minutes. This, combined with pest and disease prediction software, produces ‘live’ graphs indicating risk of infection/attack from a range of pests and diseases,” he explains.
Canker is the most pressing issue for growers at this time of year, says Mr Radu. The canker model monitors rainfall, leaf wetness and temperature. Values are forwarded to a central server and integrated with information on canker’s lifecycle to assess the risk of infection.
Growers can then access the resulting information to see if and when action is needed, giving them plenty of time to target protectant fungicides effectively.
“This reduces new infections and improves the health of their orchards, and reduces the levels of eye rot the following season,” says Mr Radu.
The new fireblight software, developed by Dutch pest and disease software forecasting specialist RIMpro, calculates the likelihood of infection through blossom and new growth based on flowering period and likely contamination and bacterial growth based on temperature and relative humidity/rainfall.
There is no chemical cure for fireblight, so growers have to rely on well-timed copper-based preventative or antagonistic sprays, Mr Radu explains. “This makes accurate forecasting using our GCI service all the more vital.”
Both programmes help ensure sprays are applied when needed, says Mr Radu.
“With GCI, pests and diseases can be tackled more efficiently and effectively. This helps growers conform to assured produce schemes and minimise residues while producing the highest quality crops.”