Survey to shape AHDB’s pest monitoring investment

Monday, 12 November 2018

More chemistry has fallen foul of the approvals process this year. With some pest targets becoming resistant to what’s left and the crop protection pipeline drier than a 2018 summer, it’s no wonder interest in integrated pest management (IPM) has piqued. But IPM is a broad church and research funds are limited, so AHDB is asking people to complete a short survey to focus its investment in this area.

The ability to identify pest targets accurately and to know when they have gone, or are likely to go, above economic damage thresholds is at the heart of IPM. In 2014, AHDB published the ‘Encyclopaedia of pests and natural enemies in field crops’ to help crop walkers identify pests, as well as to inform them about risk factors, life cycle, monitoring, control thresholds, non-chemical control and insecticide-resistance status.

By the time pests have been observed in the field, however, the optimum time to spray could have been missed. This conundrum has fuelled investment in pest forecasts, risk models and monitoring services to provide a ‘heads up’ warning of what pest pressures might lie ahead. Some pest monitoring services, in fact, stretch back decades. The Rothamsted Insect Survey, for example, has tracked aphid migrations, via its UK network of suction traps, for over 50 years.

Time for a review

Even though some pest monitoring services have been on the scene for longer than many can remember, it is important to review their relevance. Priorities change and new services appear.

The AHDB-supported Crop Health and Protection Centre (CHAP), for example, is ‘updating and enhancing’ monitoring activity for pests (and diseases) of wheat, barley, oilseed rape and potatoes. CHAP already uses its weather monitoring network, national pest and disease surveillance data and risk models to provide regular updates via Next year, CHAP plans to launch risk forecasting services too – which is likely to form part of a subscription service.

Farmers and growers can also share pest observation data more rapidly than ever before. AHDB Horticulture, for example, has coordinated a network of growers to help monitor diamond-back moth populations with resistance to pyrethroids. The internet also provides another powerful sharing network. For example, any pest target, preceded by the hashtag symbol ‘#’, can be entered into the search box of Twitter to reveal ‘real-time’ information on that pest.

With pests being monitored so many ways, now is a good time to have your say on how AHDB invests in this area.

The online survey can be accessed via

Hard copy versions (which can be returned at no cost to you) have been mailed out with autumn editions of Grain Outlook (AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds), Tuber Talk (AHDB Potatoes) and The Grower (AHDB Horticulture).

The survey closes on 30 November 2018

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter edition of AHDB Grain Outlook.