Alberta’s wheat farmers can now add a Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) risk tool to their agronomy toolbox, improving their ability to make well-informed decisions related to FHB disease management. The risk tool was developed in a partnership between the Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Climate Information Service (ACIS) with expert support from researchers based at Agriculture and Forestry (AF) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).
This local disease infection risk tool is optimized for use on mobile devices, enabling farmers to remotely view hourly updates on FHB disease severity for their location. Risk is based on a seven-day history of rain, temperature and humidity.
“The key to a successful growing season is to have the best information possible when it comes to risks that our crops face,” said Kevin Auch, AWC Chair. “With FHB becoming more problematic in Alberta, a full scope of risk will be a major help with decision making when it comes to fungicide applications for disease control.”
The tool also features a live updating provincial map of Alberta with the Disease Severity Index for every weather station as well an info tab containing best management practices.
The risk tool was initiated by AWC and ACIS unit lead Ralph Wright and engineered by technical analyst Dr. Pawel Pytlack, also with ACIS. The interface pulls data from weather stations Alberta-wide. Expertise from AF plant pathologist Dr. Michael Harding, AF plant disease researcher Neil Whatley and AAFC plant disease researcher Dr. Kelly Turkington helped to connect the weather data to FHB risk.
“Each day ACIS collects nearly 130,000 hourly weather observations from more than 370 stations province wide,” said Ralph Wright, ACIS unit lead. “Weather conditions have enormous impacts on farming operations. Coupling the weather observations to a risk tool is a fantastic example of how weather data can be used to help producers make timely, informed decisions.”
Alberta farmers can view the maps here, and are encouraged to provide feedback on the website to AWC’s grower relations and extension coordinator, Brian Kennedy. More information on the FHB risk maps is available at www.albertawheat.com.