What is cost of soil-borne crop disease?

Agriculture Victoria is calling on growers and agronomists to contribute to a national project seeking to determine the potential soil-borne diseases of pulse and oilseed crops.

As part of the National Soil-borne Disease project being run by Agriculture Victoria in partnership with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), growers and agronomists are being asked to report crops exhibiting poor thrift so that they can be tested for root disease.

Agriculture Victoria research scientist Josh Fanning said some of the soil-borne diseases the project was targeting included rhizoctonia and root lesion nematodes.

Rhizoctonia causes crop damage by pruning the plants root system, resulting in water and nutrient stress to the plant, while root lesion nematodes (RLN) are microscopic worm-like animals that extract nutrients from plants, also causing yield loss.

Dr Fanning said an aim of the project was to identify soil-borne diseases unique to pulse and oilseed crops.

“In general, we don’t know which soil-borne diseases are causing losses in pulses and oilseeds,” he said.

During the last few years Agriculture Victoria research staff have observed nematode symptoms on the roots of most of the chickpea and lentil crops surveyed. Last season a disease known as phytophthora root rot was also found in chickpeas grown around Kaniva in the West Wimmera.

Most commonly found in the cracking clay soils of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, phytophthora root rot causes seed decay and significant losses, particularly if conditions are wet.

Dr Fanning said the results of the disease testing would enable Agriculture Victoria science staff to undertake research into management strategies for the priority diseases.

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