New Climate-KIC Project awarded to Lund University
Potato Late blight (Phytophthora infestans) is a devastating potato disease which occurs earlier and earlier in the potato growing season over the last decades. Compared to other crops, potatoes require very high amounts of fungicides (e.g. in Sweden potato is grown on 4% of the agricultural land but requires 20% of all fungicides). Fungicide application timing is problematic and farmers therefore over-compensate the risk.
This project use a new prognostic model derived from field data from three decades that link the disease incidence with weather. The modell allows predicting the incidence of late blight. The desease show a strong link to temperature, due to climate change, the incidence will occur even earlier in the future.
The model is able to provide a decision support tool for fungicide application. Since farmers cannot be expected to risk their harvest an insurance-based system, to cover risks is suggested, as long as the model suggestions are followed. To increase famers’ incentive the insurance policy will be paid from the saved money from the reduction of fungicide sprays minus a percentage, assuring the farmer will have a net win. The project will use the new prognosis model (as well as the current market leader ISIP to make sure the best option is chosen) to demonstrate the amount of fungicides (and money) that can be saved and reality test both the model (through integration into an existing commercial app) and the insurance policy idea on key actors (farmers, insurance companies and national agencies). It will not only decrease the amount of fungicide applications (pesticides and petrol being saved) it will also mitigate effects of climate change by using seasonal weather forecasts to plan fungicide applications.
The idea has previously been awarded seed funding from Ideation Day in February 2017.
Project lead is Veiko Lehsten from NATEKO Lund University, also involved in the project is Johanna Alkan Ohlsson from CEC, Lund University.