Towards the development of a decision support system for the management of BYDV in winter cereals

Towards the development of a decision support system for the management of BYDV in winter cereals

Purpose/Primary Objective

To demonstrate the applicability of early research into the management of BYDV in modern crop systems in order to inform the development of an effective decision support system.


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.

Barley yellow dwarf virus (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.  

Monitoring aphid migration can help inform farmers when to check their crops and treat if necessary, however current monitoring services cannot predict the potential threat from BYDV. HGCA- and DEFRA-funded research in the 1990s laid the foundations for a model to forecast aphid development and migration, and therefore the risk of BYDV spreading, based on weather conditions. For example, Mann et al. (1995) identified biotic and abiotic factors that increased the movement of Sitobion avenae and Rhopalosiphum padi in a crop which has implications for the secondary spread of BYDV.

Since this research was done, farming practices and cereal varieties have changed which may have implications for the validity of the work. For example, changes in stubble management or the use of cover crops may act as a ‘green bridge’ for the virus. Alternatively, direct drilling into stubble may reduce aphid colonisation of the crop by disrupting visual cues that aphids respond to such as leaf colour (Kendall et al, 1991). Modern cereal varieties may have different tolerances to BYDV infection, and the yield implications for infection at different growth stages is unclear.

With advances in computing power, the availability of weather data and monitoring capability including the ability to rapidly and reliably detect the presence of BYDV in its aphid vectors, alongside the threat of insecticide resistance in aphids, there is a need to update and build upon this existing research to incorporate modern capabilities and farming practices. This project will act as a pilot study that will identify and re-evaluate key aspects of BYDV forecasting research to further progress the development of an effective decision support system.


This project will further develop knowledge on BYDV risk, which has arisen from, but is not limited to, the literature referenced in section 9 (Related Information). The project will re-assess the feasibility of providing reliable estimates of the risk of BYDV transmission and yield loss at the field scale. Applicants are required to specify the aspects of previous research that require re-validation. The successful application will involve the collection of field data (as opposed to only a desk study). It is anticipated that the project will incorporate weather data, aphid dynamics, virus pressure and include information on landscape composition, disease symptoms and yield loss. However, this list is indicative and applicants can propose alternative approaches. All applicants should justify their proposed approach. It is expected that the key outcomes of the research will be:

  • An evaluation of the potential to provide reliable, ideally field-specific BYDV risk assessment and commentary on the applicability of the risk assessment across different regions of the UK in wheat, barley and oats. Particular consideration should be given to how such assessments would work within modern farming practices and IPM programmes.

  • Identification of key messages that can be used by farmers to judge BYDV risk with available monitoring provisions

  • Recommendations of further research required to develop/validate an effective decision support system for BYDV, and an indicative timescale for such work to be completed

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. Applications involving in-kind and/or cash funding from industry are particularly encouraged.

Budget and duration

AHDB has set aside a maximum budget of £60,000 over one year for this pilot project. The earliest date of commencement for work funded as a result of this call will be 1 October 2018.

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 here. 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). 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.

Completed application forms should be submitted to no later than midday on the 17 September 2018.

Proposed timings for application and project delivery

Stage of Process


Call published

9 August 2018

Full proposal submission deadline

17 September 2018

Applicants informed of outcome

24 September 2018

Project commencement

1 October 2018

Project completion

30 September 2019


If you have a specific question related to this call please email  As part of the open tender process AHDB cannot discuss specific project details prior to submission of a proposal. View the Questions and Answers for this Research Call.

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, 2:207-304

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