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Trapping Spores for Science

Farming Smarter begins testing a new product, Spornado, to find if it’s effective at of trapping fungal spores as an early warning system for crop protection. 

Approved in September of 2019 after the growing season, this year is the first round of onsite testing conducted by Farming Smarter. The project continues through until the end of the 2023 season. 

Spornado spore trap
The Spornado captures spores floating in the winds and stores them in a capsule. Technicians can take the capsule to a lab and test for White Mold, Fusarium, Sclerotina levels in a field to aid decisions around crop treatments.

The idea of this project is to place the Spornado spore traps in and around fields where cartridges can capture and collect airborne spores that go to a lab for analysis. The overall goal is to create a more data rich risk management and warning system for disease outbreak in crops. Currently, many crop pathologists use Bukhard volumetric suction traps that cost about $20,000 each, while the Sporenado is much less expensive at $500 each.  

Currently, growers use fungicides  as a risk management tool, usually in higher risk areas, and apply them generously. This shot in the dark approach comes with its share of risks however, and often leads to unnecessary application to crops.  

This can lead to lower return on investment, higher costs for fuel and labour, wear and tear on equipment and risks to the environment. It also increases fungicide resistance risk 

Using the Spornado on the other hand offers the opportunity for an inexpensive trap with a fast testing turn-around. Combined with the history of local crops and weather patterns, it arms farmers with much more information to use resources without waste or unnecessary application. 

The project is just in its infancy, so keep up with the project page on the testing to see how the project progresses!