Research grants available to explore damaging crop disease

Sunshine beats down on field of wheat near Hales. Picture: Nick Butcher

Sunshine beats down on field of wheat near Hales. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A farming organisation has asked researchers to apply for a share of £60,000 to improve understanding of the risk of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) in cereals.

The announcement from the AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) follows the EU decision to ban outdoor use of neonicotinoid seed treatments, including those used to protect cereal crops from BYDV infections, mostly carried by aphids.

In untreated crops, BYDV causes estimated average yield losses of 8pc in wheat and 2pc in barley.

Charlotte Rowley, who manages pest research at AHDB, said: 'Seed treatments affected by the ban will need to be used up by 19 December 2018. Alternative control measures will be needed next year.

'Although full-rate pyrethroid sprays can provide effective control of aphids, they are becoming resistant. At present, this is limited to moderate levels of resistance in grain aphids, but knowledge about BYDV risk needs to be improved, to make sure sprays are only ever used as a last resort.'

Researchers are being asked to apply for the funding by September 17 to review BYDV literature and collect vital new field data, as very little research has been conducted in the UK this century.

The research will look at the potential to generate field-specific risk forecasts in wheat, barley and oats. It will also update guidance to inform BYDV management strategies.

More information can be found on the AHDB website.