BBSRC project: Modelling the impact of cabbage stem flea beetle on oilseed rape crops
Oilseed rape, grown for the production of edible vegetable oil, biodiesel and animal feed, was until recently the UK's third most valuable crop and its principal oil crop. However, pressure from the crop pest, cabbage flea stem beetle (CSFB), has resulted in large losses in yield and profits. Furthermore, as a consequence of the war in the Ukraine, imports of edible oils from the Ukraine and Russia (the world's two biggest exporters) are at an all-time low (https://www.economist.com/business/2022/05/07/the-war-in-ukraine-is-roc…). Thus, it is important to begin measures to restore yields of oilseed rape crops in the UK.
This BBSRC funded project focuses on mitigating the damaging effects of the CSFB by developing a mathematical model to predict the occurrence and abundance of the pest so that prevention measures can be taken to protect the crop when it is most vulnerable. The CSFB has several life stages, e.g. egg, larvae, pupae, adult, which affect the crop in different ways. For example, the adults eat the newly planted crops in Autumn, whereas larvae burrow into the leaf stems causing damage to plants over winter and into the following spring. Furthermore, the timing of the life stages depends on local weather conditions.
An interdisciplinary team of biologists (Harper Adams University and ADAS) and industry partners (Frontier and BASF) lead by Helen Kettle at BioSS are working on a preliminary model with the long term aim of developing a decision support system (DSS) that can be used by farmers and agronomists for crop management.
Contact Helen Kettle for more details.