Simple and rapid OSR light leaf spot test to be available from September

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The bio-tech company Microgenetics has developed the SwiftDetect light leaf spot disease for oilseed rape (OSR), which will have a one business-day results turnaround and is available from September 12. 

SwiftDetect has undergone extensive trialling, with the SRUC in Scotland and the AD4PT Group in Nottinghamshire, during which several OSR variations were monitored and disease resistance scores were produced.

“Before SwiftDetect, it was impossible to identify the best time to apply fungicide as once signs of light leaf spot are visible, they aren’t as effective,” said Chris Steele from Microgenetics.

“As SwiftDetect can detect light leaf spot before symptoms are visible, it will optimise fungicide efficacy, delay costly fungicide applications in low detection fields and target applications to specific fields with high and early pathogen detection. This can potentially reduce overall cost and minimise crop protection use.”

Mr Steele also believes that SwiftDetect could help farmers and agronomists select OSR varieties more accurately too. “Despite the resistance score of Crossfit and Duplo [OSR varieties] both being 5, a significant difference in pathogen load was evident between the two,” he said.

Andrew Hartley, arable technical manager for DSV United Kingdom, who was involved with the SwiftDetect trials, said that “the hardest decision in agriculture is always not to do something.”

“Many farmers, myself included, have been guilty of spraying crops on a predetermined particular calendar date, with sometimes little knowledge of whether or not disease is in the plant.”

“If you have information that definitely tells you there’s no disease, then the likelihood is you wouldn’t spray for that disease, which would save you time and money, and would be better for the environment.”

Mr Hartley added: “I think farmers will have to justify why they’ve sprayed something in the future, and what they’ve sprayed for; one day, it’s very likely that conducting these tests will become part of general farming practice.”

SwiftDetect is also already being adapted to test for further diseases, including Phoma – which is currently undergoing trials.

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