Crop Protection and Applied Practice

Rhynchosporium on barleyWork on Crop Protection focuses on:

  • Understanding and exploiting knowledge of durable resistance of the host plant to pathogen infection.
  • Understanding the expression of induced resistance of plants to pathogens and pests with a view to practical exploitation.
  • Alternatives to conventional (chemical) approaches for disease and pest control.
  • Understanding the biology and epidemiology of major pathogens of barley, oilseed rape and potato.
  • Crop loss assessment and plant disease management decision-making.
  • Elucidating the molecular basis of fungicide insensitivity in major pathogens.

More specifically, researchers in the team are involved in the following areas of work:

  • Induced resistance to pathogens and pests (Andy Evans, Neil Havis, Ruairidh Bain, Clement Gravouil).
  • Development of innovative approaches to controlling pests and diseases (Andy Evans).
  • Elucidating the life cycle of Ramularia collo-cygni on barley, and studying its epidemiology and methods of control (Neil Havis).
  • Investigating the biology, epidemiology and control of the leaf scald pathogen Rhynchosporium commune on barley (Neil Havis).
  • Studying the epidemiology and control of the late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans on potato (Ruairidh Bain).
  • Unravelling the molecular basis of fungicide resistance in major pathogens of barley, wheat, and oilseed rape.
  • Studying the influence of conventional and innovative treatments on leaf surface microflora (Clement Gravouil).
  • Methods for disease risk assessment and evidence-based crop protection (Fiona Burnett, Neil Havis, Gareth Hughes).

The main thrust of our research is the development of more sustainable approaches to crop protection and production. We have collaborative links with researchers in the UK (Rothamsted Research, John Innes Centre, ADAS, James Hutton Institute), and further afield (INRA at Dijon, Station de recherche Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil ACW in Switzerland, South Australia Research & Development Institute, Plant & Food Research in New Zealand).

Applied Practice

Ramularia on barleyKnowledge exchange is at the core of SRUC’s activities. The aim of the Applied Practice Team is to provide a clear route to practice for the group’s research and to transfer messages from our research work out to stakeholders. These include growers, consultants, policy makers and the wider industry through a programme of technical support, road shows, open days, farm walks and publications.

This team also acts as a source of intelligence to drive future research within the group, and operates crop monitoring services, a diagnostic crop clinic and a contract trials service.

  • To provide a clear route to practice for SRUC’s crop science.
  • To coordinate crop monitoring and intelligence and identify the business needs of the industry.
  • To offer diagnostic services and training support.
  • To raise the profile of our research with industry.
  • To help support and grow the SAC Consulting business.

We offer advice, training and information to stakeholders based on our research and provide specialist back up to SAC Consulting through our crop clinic diagnostic services, phone services and training meetings.We have field trial sites throughout Scotland and laboratory and glasshouse testing facilities.

Our knowledge transfer activities include a programme of technical support, KT events and publications. Look at our Crop Clinic Pages which profile our work on plant health, in conjunction with the Scottish Government Advisory Activity programme, and follow us on Twitter for updates on crop news, research findings and forthcoming events.

Prof Fiona Burnett

Group Manager - Crop & Soils Systems

Address: Crop & Soils Systems, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG.

Telephone: 0131 535 4133

Fax: 0131 535 4144

E-mail: fiona.burnett@sruc.ac.uk