A cropping system for cereals which will significantly reduce the chemical imputs in the form of fertilizers and pesticides has been developed. Work has shown that spores of Mycosphaerella graminicola (Septoria tritici) can be significantly impeded during dispersal by a clover base in a cereal/legume intercrop. The pathogen can be reduced with decreased nitrogen imputs and controlled using cereal cultivar diversification. Results showed the importance of elite combinations of Rhizobium and legume for maximum performance, and the legume nitrogen can satisfactorily support cereal growth. The commercial potential of a cereal/legume cropping system was shown to be equasl or greater than that of a conventional high imput system. Work also showed that 2 years are required for cereal/legume systems to manipulate the mycorrhizosphere of the soil/root environment and that the addition of a commercial mycorrhizal innoculant is unlikely to result in enhanced benefits to the cereal crop and would not be economically successful. It was possible to effectively control several cereal necrotrophs using leguminous inducers, but the field performance of such inducers was adversely affecteed by sub-optimal conditions.
Pesticides and fertilizers involve the use of energy in manufacture and application, are costly to the farmer and regarded by the public as hazardous to the environment. Cereals is a priority crop for which integrated farming systems must be developed incorporating a high level of plant protection using non-chemical means.
The project will develop a cropping system which will significantly decrease the use of expensive chemical fertilizer and pesticide input during the production of the cereal crop; the system will also help to reduce cereal production while maintaining farming incomes, reduce harmful effects on health and the environment, and reduce the opportunity for chemical resistance (insensitivity) to develop in target pathogen populations.
The project will exploit the principles of diversification by using cultivar mixtures and cereal/legume cropping together with the concept of induced resistance for controlling diseases in cereal crops. The project will quantify, using disease - yield loss models, the effects of necrotrophic pathogens under defined environmental conditions and soil nutrient regimes. The importance of the mycorrhizosphere in mineralization and nutrient transfer will be evaluated in cereal/legume systems together with the effects of fixed soil nitrogen on cereal growth, yield and components of partial resistance. The project will also examine induced resistance in cereal/legume systems for controlling necrotrophic pathogens.
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SY23 3DD Aberystwyth