Assessing plant health: wheat, oat and barley

Reducing reliance on artificial inputs, like fungicides, is one of the aims for Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland. To measure the success of future trials, we are starting by assessing the baseline plant health of the spring barley, winter wheat and spring oats. 

Importance of baselining plant health

  • Start: October 2020
  • End: Harvest 2021


To baseline crop health to gauge how current practices affect the crop.

A long-term aim of the Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland is to reduce reliance on artificial inputs.

AHDB already plays a key role in fungicide anti-resistance through monitoring and research of key diseases to develop the most effective anti-resistance strategies, reducing reliance on fungicides. The AHDB Recommended Lists have raised minimum standards for variety disease resistance which potentially enables the reduced use of, and thus pressure on, fungicides.

The Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland would like to baseline plant health at the start of the programme to measure the impact of reducing inputs as part of future trials in the Strategic Farm project.

How to assess plant health

Five fields of spring barley, winter wheat and spring oats are being assessed for stem and foliar disease as well as assessing crop development throughout the growing season.

From crop emergence (GS10) until harvest each field will have the following assessments carried out:

  • Tiller/ plant counts (10 quadrats per field)

  • Tissue testing (40 plants per field)

  • Brix testing (3 plants per field)

  • Sap testing (500g tissue)

  • Foliar disease (40 plants per field)

  • Stem disease (25 plants per field)

  • Ear/ear disease (40 plants per field)

At harvest, the farm will collect combine yield data for SRUC to analyse.

Useful resources

Wheat growth guide

Barley growth guide

Oilseed rape growth guide

Encyclopaedia of cereal diseases

Wheat and barley disease management guide

Our Strategic Farms are an opportunity to see how to use our research on a commercial farm. Find out more about our Strategic Farm Cereal Scotland

Image of staff member Chris Leslie

Chris Leslie

Knowledge Exchange Manager – Cereals & Oilseeds