Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) has announced the launch of a new digital service – Crop Monitor Pro – designed to help growers and agronomists predict the likelihood of pest and disease outbreaks on their farm. Charlotte Cunningham reports.

CropMonitor Pro extends the Defra funded, long-standing regional risk evaluation service (Crop Monitor) which was first launched in 2003 by Fera.

According to CHAP, CropMonitor Pro is a significant advancement on that service by providing field-level risk prediction for a range of pests and diseases affecting winter wheat, winter oilseed rape and potatoes.

The CropMonitor Pro decision support service is a collaboration between CHAP and Fera and has been in development since 2017. It has been funded by IUK as part of the UK Agri-tech Strategy.

So what’s new?

CropMonitor Pro estimates infection risk by analysing the complex relationship between weather, crop growth stage, management practices and disease or pest characteristics. It uses a simple traffic light system to show crop susceptibility and suggests optimum times to spray – and when to avoid spraying – for up to four days ahead with up to 85% accuracy.

Historical data

The system benefits from almost 20 years of historical winter wheat disease data: models which could be validated against this dataset were shown to have a false negative rate of less than 15%, according to CHAP.

In a statement, CHAP CEO Fraser Black said: “Developing tools to support the sustainable use of pesticides is critical not only to improve the bottom line of our growers but also to protect our environment and halt the rapid rise of pesticide resistance emerging in the UK. CropMonitor Pro will deliver real financial benefits to growers and agronomists while also protecting the environment.”

Fera CEO Dr Andrew Swift added: “After several years of development work, we’re excited to launch the CropMonitor Pro service with CHAP. It’s our hope that CropMonitor Pro becomes a vital tool for the industry to improve profitability while helping to protect our natural ecosystems.”

The system launched on 14 Sept for growers and agronomists and will be available directly through on a subscription basis.