How will climate change impinge on fungal crop diseases?
Our work investigates the interactions between these factors. The answers can help government and industry in developing strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change, against the background of the food security debate.
Using data for winter wheat, winter oilseed rape, winter and spring barley, it is estimated (Hughes et al. 2011) that use of fungicides to control disease on UK crops saves 1.6Mt CO2 eq. per season (Fig 1).
Models that combine future climate simulation, crop growth and disease incidence have been developed for phoma stem canker of oilseed rape (Evans et al. 2008, 2010; Butterworth et al. 2010) and for fusarium head blight of wheat (Madgwick et al. 2011). They suggest that epidemics of certain diseases will increase in severity and spread geographically (Fig 2).
Current work is testing and calibrating the model of fusarium head blight to China, which has one of the largest wheat-growing areas in the world (24M ha); and extending the model to include the production of Deoxynivalenol (DON) - a common mycotoxin produced by fusarium, which is harmful if consumed by animals or humans.
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