Traditional crop protection strategies currently save millions of tonnes of UK farm-grown food from going to waste. However, they rely heavily on chemical treatments which can be costly and damage the environment. Many pest species are now developing resistance to chemical control agents, further complicating the problem. A smarter approach is needed that can help farmers identify outbreaks at an early stage and act promptly to minimise the need for expensive treatments.
“As farming rapidly becomes more automated and precise, farmers will need fast and accurate crop protection information readily available. CROPROTECT clearly demonstrates how this can be done. As digitisation develops, we expect to see further integration of systems delivering more sustainable protection solutions across the industry” Laura Crook, Weed Ecology Technician, Rothamsted Research
What did we do?
CROPROTECT is a web-based knowledge exchange system to provide farmers and agronomists with guidance on pest, weed and disease management, especially in situations where effective pesticides are not available and alternative approaches are required. To control pests and weeds effectively, farmers need instant access to information. The app, created by Rothamsted with a web development company, provides farmers with easy to use identification guides for weeds, diseases and pests across a range of the most common UK farm crops. Free to use, the app uses descriptions and pictures for ease of identification as well as the latest advice on integrated pest management. Growers and agronomists can interact with CROPROTECT and its unique structure allows for rapid transfer of information and actively involves a growing community of users. CROPROTECT also provides information about integrated pest management (IPM) and alternatives to pesticides. Currently much of the advice that is readily available relates only to chemical solutions and there is a lack of awareness of different approaches. Guidance is needed because alternatives are often more complicated to use.