P1907308: AHDB Research Call - Management of aphid and BYDV risk in winter cereals

P1907308: AHDB Research Call - Management of aphid and BYDV risk in winter cereals

Purpose/Primary Objective

To improve risk assessment methods for aphids and BYDV in winter cereals and investigate means of reducing this risk through integrated pest management.


Barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) is a serious disease of wheat, barley, and oats. In wheat, yield losses on untreated crops averages 8%, however can be as high as 60%. It is estimated each year, 82% of the crop area could be affected by BYDV if left untreated, which would cost the industry an average of £136 million a year. In winter barley, yield losses on untreated crops averages 2%, however can be as high as 50%. It is estimated each year, 30% of the crop area could be affected by BYDV which, if left untreated, could cost the industry an average of £2 million a year. In oats, it is estimated that 54% of the crop area could be affected by BYDV each year which, if left untreated, could cost the industry an average of £1.1 million a year.

BYDV is transmitted by cereal aphids feeding on crops in the autumn. In the UK, bird cherry–oat aphid (Rhopalosiphum padi) and grain aphid (Sitobion avenae) are the main vectors of BYDV, the latter of which has confirmed resistance to pyrethroids. The withdrawal of neonicotinoid seed treatments will place increasing pressure on pyrethroids for aphid management, raising the risk of resistance spreading in these species.  

This research call will cover two broad areas of activity: monitoring and decision support; and applicants may choose how much resource to devote to each area to achieve the expected outcomes.

BYDV and aphid monitoring

A key component of IPM is pest monitoring, and ideally farmers should base their treatment decisions on field observations. Currently, there are services such as the  AHDB Aphid News, which provides a landscape-scale view of numbers and species of aphids flying, and the BYDV tool that can help inform farmers when to check their crops and manage spray timings. However, information on local aphid numbers and the potential threat from BYDV would be beneficial in improving decision making. In 2018, AHDB funded a pilot project to evaluate the potential for a decision support system to be developed to improve aphid management in cereal crops.  As part of the pilot project, yellow sticky traps were trialed as a potential tool for in-field aphid monitoring. The use of molecular assays to detect the presence of BYDV in aphids collected from the sticky traps has been demonstrated in the project via collaboration with staff at Rothamsted Research (RRes) and the same assays are being used by RRes staff in 2019 to test aphids from suction traps, as an addition to the AHDB Aphid News reports.

AHDB is seeking to evaluate the potential to utilise BYDV testing of aphids to develop a BYDV monitoring service. It is anticipated that the proposed research will determine the best method of sampling and testing aphids to provide a reliable indication of aphid and virus pressure at a local (field) scale. Proposed field sites should include AHDB Strategic Cereal Farms located at Stowmarket and Leamington Spa. Consideration of the extent to which reporting of % prevalence of BYDV in suction trap samples complements and/or improves the in-field assessments of BYDV risk is encouraged. During autumn 2019 AHDB will report the weekly assessments of % prevalence of BYDV in a total of 90 aphid samples per week collected from five suction traps (Starcross, Writtle, Broom’s Barn, Kirton, and Newcastle). 

Decision support

The BYDV/aphid monitoring would be one component of a risk-based decision support system for aphid management in winter cereals. Previously published decision support tools for BYDV management have been reviewed as part of the pilot research project, to understand their potential for use/development in the UK. The project also confirmed large differences in aphid pressure between fields and within fields, with higher numbers found in headlands compared to 70m into the crop. Earlier work in this area highlighted several factors which may influence aphid population dynamics and virus transmission (e.g. meteorological impacts on aphid activity and reproduction; and agronomic impacts on aphid immigration or virus transmission, including variety, drill date, cultivation, ‘green bridge’ management - see further information). An understanding of the role/importance of these factors in BYDV risk assessment and management is required to progress the development of an IPM strategy for autumn aphid management. 


Applicants may choose to approach the management of aphid and BYDV risk in winter cereals in a number of ways, and should justify their proposed approach. Applicants must identify the intended audience for the proposed tools (i.e. farmer, agronomist or both) and factor that in to the development and validation of their methodologies.

The key outcomes of this project will be:

  • Development and validation of a reliable method for in-field monitoring of aphids and BYDV and an assessment of the role of monitoring of suction trap samples for BYDV in virus risk assessment.
  • A report on the potential for the in-field monitoring system to be developed into a cost-effective and practical BYDV monitoring service for the industry, operated by AHDB or otherwise. This could include information on the logistics of the service such as the geographical distribution of traps required, the frequency with which traps should be changed, the number of aphid samples tested; and the costs involved.
  • Identification and quantification of field-specific, agronomic or other factors that influence the level of aphid immigration or risk of BYDV transmission/infection.
  • Recommendations for the development of a simple risk-based decision support tool that can be used by farmers and agronomists to prioritise treatments and aid implementation of an IPM strategy. 

Collaboration and co-sponsorship

It is expected that the project will be led by an organisation with proven experience of conducting relevant high quality research and communication activities. Joint applications from two or more organisations are acceptable and encouraged where there is added value. AHDB reserves the right to not proceed with any application or, if appropriate, to request applicants to form a consortium to work together to deliver a programme of activities. Applications involving in-kind and/or cash funding from industry are particularly encouraged. 

Budget and duration

AHDB has set aside a maximum budget of £190,000 over three years for this project. The earliest date of commencement for work funded as a result of this call will be August 2019 and be of up to three years’ duration with the option to extend for up to 12 months. 

Application procedure

Applicants should complete an AHDB Research and KE Application Form – Full Proposal Large, referring to the guidance notes to aid completion. The criteria upon which the proposals will be assessed are outlined at the end of the application form. Under section 2.7 (How will success be measured e.g. KPI’s?) applicants should provide a description of how the impact of their proposed programme of work could be evaluated, including any baseline data that would need to be collected at/before the start of the work.

Applications are made on the basis of the AHDB Research Funding Agreement and any organisation receiving funding shall comply with the terms and conditions specified in the RFA. AHDB will not be held responsible for any expenses or losses incurred by applicants in the preparation of an application(s).

Completed application forms should be submitted to research@ahdb.org.uk no later than midday on 5 August 2019.


Proposed timings for application and project delivery

Stage of Process


Call published

4 July 2019

Full proposal submission deadline

5 August 2019 (12:00 midday)

Applicants informed of outcome

23 August 2019

Project commencement

26 August 2019

Project completion

25 August 2022


If you have a specific question related to this call please email research@ahdb.org.uk.  As part of the open tender process AHDB cannot discuss specific project details prior to submission of a proposal. All responses to questions will be anonymised and published.

Related information

M Carver, R Overthrow, J Lucas and S Phillips, (1999) HGCA project report 206: The importance of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) infection in spring barley and opportunities to manage the disease

AM Dewar, A Ferguson, JK Pell, C Nicholls and J Watts, (2016), Research Review No. 86: A review of pest management in cereals and oilseed rape in the UK

LJ Flint, (2015), Student Report No. 32: The identification, prevalence and impacts of viral disease of UK winter wheat

R Harrington, JA Mann, AJ Burgess, SJ Tones, R Rogers, GN Foster, S Blake, SF Morrison, L Ward, I Barker, D Morgan and KFA Walters, (1999), HGCA project report 205: Development and validation of decision support methodology for control of barley yellow dwarf virus

SJ Holmes, GN Foster, P Mills, L Dempster, A Masterman and A Bell, (1992), HGCA project report 56: Improving the forecast of BYDV high risk conditions in autumn-sown cereals

SJ Holmes, GN Foster and A Masterman, A Bell and L Ward, (1995), HGCA project report 108: Development and evaluation of in-crop monitoring as a method of identifying BYDV high risk situations

R Jones, U Moin Salam, T Maling, AJ Diggle and D Thackray, (2010). Principles of Predicting Plant Virus Disease Epidemics. Annual Review of Phytopathology. 48:179-203.

DA Kendall, NE Chinn, BD Smith, C Tidboald, L Winstone, and NM Western, (1991). Effects of straw disposal and tillage on spread of barley yellow dwarf virus in winter barley. Annals of Applied Biology. 119:359-364

AJ Lowles, R Harrington, GM Tatchell, SJ Tones and I Barker, (1997), HGCA Project Report No. 135: Aphid and virus dynamics to improve forecasts of barley yellow dwarf virus risk

JA Mann, R Harrington, GM Tatchell, JN Oakley, S Tones, S Ellis, M Watling and K Walters, (1995), HGCA project report 110: Determination of factors affecting grain aphid movement with reference to spread of BYDV in the autumn and winter and forecasting direct damage in the summer

JA Mann and R Harrington, (1996), HGCA project report 129: Key factors for modelling secondary spread of barley yellow dwarf virus

D Morgan, (2000), Population dynamics of the bird cherry-oat aphid, Rhopalosiphum padi (L.), during the autumn and winter: a modelling approach, Agricultural and Forest Entomology, 2:297-304

GM Tatchell, AJ Smith, SA Hill, I Barker and S Tones, (1994) HGCA project report 87: Monitoring aphids and virus to improve forecasts of Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus