Hereford & Worcester

Airborne disease testing kit may reduce pesticide use

A testing kit has been developed so that farmers can detect airborne diseases before they infect crops.

It was produced by the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit (NPARU) based at the University of Worcester.

Professor Roy Kennedy, director of the NPARU, said the new testing system would bring "real benefits".

"It means farmers no longer have to waste time and money spraying crops when there is no disease in the air," he said.

The scientists at the NPARU routinely monitor air quality to make their pollen forecasts.

They have also developed mathematical models to predict when disease infection can occur and air samplers that can collect airborne disease.

Growers can check online when the crop is at risk from infection.

On days when there is a high reading they can use the testing kit in their fields to determine whether disease is in the air.

Fred Tyler, a spokesman for a co-operative of small growers, said: "The kits show great promise in reducing the amount of pesticides required to control disease in crops."

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