Plugging the knowledge gap on costly pasture diseases

AgResearch scientists want to plug a major knowledge gap on diseases in pasture, and address biosecurity threats, by reaching out to farmers.

The pathogens (germs) that cause diseases in pasture plants such as Crown rust and clover rot can have significant costs for farmers and the New Zealand economy, and in a changing climate the concern is that those losses will escalate.

AgResearch science team leader Kwasi Adusei-Fosu says there is a real gap in awareness and understanding about current diseases and the impact they are having on pastures, as well as potential future impacts.

“By building our knowledge around pasture diseases, we are also helping raise the awareness and preparedness for threats to New Zealand’s biosecurity, including the risk of new disease-causing organisms that could invade New Zealand.”

The last time New Zealand’s formal research on this topic was reviewed was in 1996, and before then in 1965.

“The lag could be because study of the impact of pasture diseases is more speculative in nature, poorly understood or neglected.”

Dr Adusei-Fosu and his colleagues at AgResearch have prepared an online survey aimed at farmers, to gauge the level of understanding of diseases present in NZ pastures, control/management strategies, financial implications, farmers’ education/capability to identify diseases and varying climatic conditions for existing/persisting diseases.

“Farmers don’t need significant knowledge of pasture and forage diseases to take part – in fact, one of the aspects the survey is probing is whether farmers have the ability to identify a disease, or enough support from the likes of MPI and scientists to confirm diseases.”

Source:  AgResearch


Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog