Pest and disease management system for supporting winter oilseed rape decisions (PASSWORD) - Validation phase


Cereals & Oilseeds
Project code:
01 July 2001 - 30 June 2005
AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.
AHDB sector cost:
£148,546 From HGCA (Project No. 2155)
Project leader:
P Gladders, ADAS Boxworth, Battlegate Road, Boxworth, Cambs. CB3 8NN



About this project


Pests and particularly diseases cause serious loss of yield and quality in winter oilseed rape estimated to exceed £80 million/annum in some years.  These losses have occurred despite an annual expenditure of about £3.5 million for insecticides and £12 million on fungicides. Decision-making is difficult because there is complex spatial and temporal variation in pest and disease problems and improved guidance is required. The main objective of this project was to test new disease models developed in the first phase of this project and deliver a decision support system for both pest and disease control in oilseed rape. 

The regional light leaf spot forecast is well-established and reliable and indicates an increased risk of this disease in spring 2006. A new regional forecast for stem canker incidence pre-harvest has been developed and made available on the Internet. It was successful in 2004/05 and offers strategic guidance on risk provided weather factors are within the range used to develop the model. A four-stage crop-specific stem canker risk assessment method was  developed that predicts the onset of phoma leaf spotting using post-harvest weather data and thermal time relationships for canker development and canker severity. Yield loss can then be calculated from canker severity and the economic impact of stem canker predicted.

There is some flexibility in the timing of fungicide sprays to control stem canker. Delays of 2 to 3 weeks beyond a 10-20% plants affected threshold did not adversely affect yield. Stem canker severity and yield of different cultivars showed large variation between years and sites and smaller, but significant, variation in responses to fungicide. When phoma leaf spot appears in late autumn, it is only when plants are small that stem canker is likely to cause yield loss. In commercial crops, there were consistent trends for higher yields to be associated with higher fungicide inputs. Light leaf spot was very difficult to control with fungicides in the Aberdeen area where use of resistant cultivars is essential. The most effective disease control was obtained using a combination of resistant cultivars and fungicides. In some years, responses to fungicides were not cost-effective and targeting their use to high-risk situations is necessary to give the best margins over input costs.

Close contact was maintained with potential users during the project and they influenced priorities and design features. The components of PASSWORD decision support system were tested and provide guidance for the management of invertebrate pests, phoma stem canker and light leaf spot. The system will be available to ArableDS for use in autumn 2006.