Plant Science

Improving crop regulation

To help control potato cyst nematodes (PCN), a serious pest of potatoes regulated by an EU Directive, SASA is obliged to conduct a pre-planting survey of land used for seed potato crops to ensure the land is not contaminated by PCN. Using models for the distribution of PCN in a crop, we were able to advise SASA on the statistical properties of different sampling rates, enabling SASA to negotiate satisfactory changes during a recent review of the Directive. Following this, we used computer simulation to assess different plans for an inspector walking between sampling points within a field to balance costs against effectiveness in detecting outbreaks of PCN.

SASA also inspects cereal crops being used for seed production to ensure that the seed will meet quality standards. We have reviewed the current inspection technique, which is implemented in line with an OECD Guideline. Our analysis of historical data indicated that the current technique does not make adequate allowance for individual cereal plants having multiple ears. We are currently looking at how best to modify the OECD Guideline to reflect these findings.

potato plants in field Statistically sound assessments of fields planted for seed production help ensure low levels of pests and diseases when the seed is grown in future years.

Further details from: Adrian Roberts

Article date 2011

Consultancy Advice & Collaboration

Plant Science

Animal Health & Welfare

Ecology & Environmental Science

Human Health & Nutrition