Monday - August 28, 2017

Bayer NZ’s Disease Watch tracks threats to crops

Sharing disease information // Wheat and barley main focus // Aim to increase yields // Diseases to be tracked by region

Monday, 28 August 2017 – Sharing information about diseases and how to combat them is the best way for cereal farmers to stay on top of common diseases and increase yields.


That’s the view of Bayer New Zealand which this September is re-launching Disease Watch after a successful debut in 2016. Disease Watch is an initiative that tracks disease threats by region and advises farmers on how to combat these threats.


To track diseases, Bayer set up small trial plots of wheat and barley in various locations from Palmerston North down to South Canterbury. These plots did not receive a fungicide thanks to the kindness of co-operating farmers.


As disease threats arise in the trial plots, the company is able to warn farmers and more importantly advise on the best treatment for the crop.


Bayer arable specialist, Neil Waddingham, says the trial plots began in 2016 and will continue for the foreseeable future.


“It might be a simple Number 8 wire approach, but this information is really important to farmers and gives them a much clearer picture of what to expect from the forthcoming growing season.”


Bayer is not only encouraging farmers to sign-up to Disease Watch, but also to share information from their own farms.


“We’ve set up a Disease Watch website portal, which includes disease updates, a handy fungicide disease planner, as well as information on enhancing crop health and managing resistance.


“While we can provide regional updates on disease threats, we also encourage farmers to share information via the website portal on what’s happening with their crops – even if it’s just sending us a photo. That way we can get an even more comprehensive view of disease threats and correspondingly what fungicide control programs work the best. The end result of course is increasing yields and ultimately the profitability of the crop.”


Waddingham also adds that cereal farmers are acutely aware of common diseases such as Septoria, scald and powdery mildew, but perhaps not so much the impact on yields.


“At one of our trial plots near Palmerston North, where we are testing a new fungicide, we saw Septoria leaf blotch reduce crop yield by 85%, which was a yield loss of close to eight tonnes per hectare.


“Another example was a trial crop near Timaru where Bayer recorded a six tonne per hectare loss from Septoria leaf blotch, even when the disease didn’t develop in the crop until late in the season,” concludes Waddingham.


For more information on Disease Watch and to access Bayer’s fungicide disease planner, visit





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