Accounting for pest and diseases in crop models: A case study on Blackleg (causal agent: Leptosphaeria maculans) and canola (Brassica napus)

Jamina Bondad1,2, Dr Jeremy Whish1, Matthew Harrison2, Kara Barry4 

1CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Brisbane, Australia, 2University of Tasmania, Burnie, Australia, 3CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Canberra, Australia, 4University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

Understanding the dynamics of pests and diseases within the farming system and the ability to relate incidence and seasonal conditions to yield loss, is the next challenge for the agricultural science community (Donatelli et al., 2017). This highlights the potential of existing crop models to expand their simulation scope and account for biotic stressors. The addition of a lifecycle module to the APSIM Next Generation framework allows for the development of pest and disease models that interact seamlessly with existing crop models but is yet to be tested. To do this, we use Blackleg disease and canola crop as the case study. The development of a Blackleg lifecycle model linked to a canola crop model could do more than support capabilities such as scheduling, scouting or pesticide application.  Currently the management of Blackleg relies on an estimated threshold. The threshold is used to help identify when a pest population needs to be reduced to prevent yield loss. This approach is often prescriptive and or reactive. The development of a dynamic blackleg model within the APSIM next gen framework will enable disease management decisions to be predictive and give the farmer the ability to interact with the environment. This paper reports on the development of a blackleg model within APSIM and presents some early results from key lifecycle stages.


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