Harper Adams University Reader Dr Matt Back is supporting nematologists at Leeds University with the development of a potato cyst nematode (PCN) population advisory tool. PCN causes losses of around £26 million each year in the United Kingdom, and several times more in the European Union.
Dr Back said: “At the end of the 18-month project we will have an improved advisory tool for PCN. There is currently a tool provided by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) but it does not have sufficient features to enable an accurate forecast. Our tool will help farmers and growers with providing forecasts for PCN by analysing the data they provide about their practices. It’s also going to be an educational tool, as growers can change the parameters and learn about the implications of crop management choices.”
“To achieve a better tool, we will be creating an algorithm to be able to consider how temperature makes a difference to each PCN species. Secondly, we will be incorporating data on the decline of PCN as well as new results on PCN genomics and pre-planting mortality. There is a difference between the tolerance and resistance of potato varieties to PCN. With tolerant varieties, the yield loss is expected to be lower but in the longer term the multiplication of PCN will be higher, so we will also be looking to incorporate this factor into the tool by collecting data from field based experiments. The project was presented at the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC) Sustainable Agriculture Research and Innovation Club (SARIC) sandpit event earlier this year. The two day interactive workshop aimed at identifying a collection of projects that fitted the remit of SARIC for funding. Our proposal was approved as suitable for development into a research translation project.” The project funding is being provided jointly by the NERC and BBRSC.
Photo of Dr Matt Back. Credit: Harper Adams University