Fungicide Margin Challenge proves a robust fungicide strategy was worth the spend in 2021

Multi-site fungicides appear to be making a valuable contribution in this year’s ADAS/AHDB Fungicide Margin Challenge

In a year marked by higher disease pressure, across 6 different trials, the fungicide programmes achieving the highest margins had a moderate to high fungicide spend, with multisites featuring in the winning programme in five out of six trials.

The Wheat Fungicide Margin Challenge pits the innovative fungicide strategies of growers against ADAS expert programmes and against untreated plots in replicated plot trials. With growing input costs, the loss of actives through regulation changes and the risk of resistance development, the challenge encourages participants to design a fungicide strategy which will result in the highest margin over fungicide cost rather than the highest yield.

The entrants this year included AHDB growers and the wider industry, with trials located across six regions using locally popular varieties. ADAS’ own fungicide strategies included a ‘blockbuster’ application (very high fungicide inputs) to indicate yield potential, and a programme designed by plant pathologists.

All plots within a trial received the same field inputs, except for the fungicides. Entrants were allocated plots, for which they decided the fungicide programme based on information about the crop, and disease levels during the season. They had to confirm their fungicide programme a week before each application was due which allowed them to take into account the season. Plots were then monitored for disease by ADAS and taken to yield. The margin over fungicide cost was calculated using an average grain price, with the cost of fungicides and the farm cost of applying pesticides taken into account.

Higher disease pressure

In 2020, relatively low disease pressure meant a low to moderate fungicide spend was ultimately the most profitable. Disease pressure, being higher this year than the previous two years, meant a higher spend on a more robust programme was needed to protect high yields. Multi-site fungicides proved to be helpful where septoria pressure was high.

Research Scientist Chloe Morgan said:

“After doing this challenge for three years, we’ve learnt that no one knows what sort of yield to expect as well as the grower themselves. It is important for growers to know what yield response you can reasonably achieve to help budget for fungicide spend, taking into account the variety, but also the soil type.”

If you are interested in the fungicide margin challenge and would like to find out more, contact Chloe Morgan [email protected]

Download the 2021 results in Excel (anonymous)

Watch back below Chloe Morgan’s 2021 fungicide challenge presentation at the AHDB Agronomist Conference 2021