Vic app identifies crop diseases

The Victorian Department of Primary Industries developed the smartphone application called Crop Diseases, which is available for iPhone and Android.

It will enable agronomists and farmers to quickly identify the disease resistance rating of a cereal, pulse or oilseed variety in the paddock, according to the Victorian Government.

Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Walsh said the app’s development followed interest from agronomists seeking a simpler method than hard copy references for disease ratings.

“They told us they were tired of carrying around an armful of books and wanted to be able to pull out their smartphone and get information quickly,” Mr Walsh said.

Mr Walsh said crop diseases cost Victoria around $120 million per year and this app would be an important tool in helping to minimise these costly losses.

"This app is effectively an online guide to crop diseases and disease ratings and will help to ensure farmers choose the right crop for their business," Mr Walsh said.

According to the Victorian Government, a team of grains pathologist researchers including Frank Henry developed the app.

This was based on research funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

Mr Henry said the app could compare a number of crop varieties with a number of disease resistance ratings, which would enable users to select the variety with the most effective disease resistances.

“Images of diseases are linked to the diseases ratings, and users can also use a large selection of images to take the first steps in identifying a crop disease,” Mr Henry said.

Mr Henry said resistance ratings are “key to reducing the impact of crop disease and increasing farm productivity and profitability”.

According to Mr Henry, if the disease cannot be identified from the images, then a photo can be e-mailed to a friend or adviser to help with identification.

“Being able to quickly and accurately identify a disease is vital in being able to effectively select the best management response,” he said.

He said with croppers spending $30 to $40 million to protect their crops from disease each year, “the app will help ensure that this money is spent wisely”.

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