Brown Rot (Monilinia spp) is one of the most important diseases and causes great damage to peach cultivation, especially during the past 3-4 years. The damage is mainly caused to the crop after the month of July, a period when daylight hours begin to decrease and humidity levels increase.
The problem is exacerbated when there is intense or continuous rainfall, which is the factor most affecting the progress of the disease. The damage mainly affects mid-late varieties, which constitute the majority of the harvested product in the Pella region.
This causes a greater burden on producers regarding the late maturing varieties. These varieties have higher production costs, as they require more spraying, irrigation, cultivation practices, etc. Consequently, the economic impact on producers is greater than for the other peach diseases. The main active substances used are: cyprodinil, fludioxonil, difenoconazole, fluopyram, tryfloxystrobin, tebuconazole, bocalid, pyraclostrobin fenbuconazole etc.
Proper cultivation practices, such as 1) good pruning for proper tree aeration, 2) precision irrigation to avoid excessive moisture conditions in the field, 3) controlled fertilization especially with regard to nitrogen use which is a major problem for the disease and 4) timely crop protection are some basic principles for effective disease control.
Subsequently, it was recognised that the peach producers in the region of Pella needed to protect their crops from this specific disease and, at the same time, reduce the high cost of production. This led the Mandalos Agricultural Cooperative “PROODOS” to adopt a smart farming system.
Through the use of smart farming solutions, producers will be able to achieve a more efficient inputs management, produce peaches of better quality and reduce their environmental footprint. For example, they will be able to know what the percentage of water in the soil would be after a rainfall. They can, therefore, adapt their irrigation strategy accordingly, a process also related to fertilisation. They also receive information regarding the presence of suitable conditions for the development of a disease, so they can apply plant protection accurately and on time.
- Help in the rational use of the irrigation water. Targeted irrigation is carried out both quantitatively and temporally, taking into account the needs of the crop at a given time.
- Provide a three-day weather forecast specific to the area where the parcel is located and send alerts for the weather conditions that will prevail in the area 48 hours before they occur. This is extremely important in the case of irrigation scheduling, given the fact that if rainfall follows irrigation events, this can cause crop destruction within a few days.
- Provide the producer with information on the nutrient needs of the soil. After the soil analysis is concluded, the producer is given instructions on the elements that are deficient, or in surplus on his plot. In this way soil degradation is avoided.
- Indicate when the conditions in the crop are suitable for the disease to occur. Therefore, the farmer carries out targeted spraying, thus reducing the use of pesticides.
The first measurable results from the first year of implementation of the service in the region have been very encouraging. Variations were observed in the percentages calculated, due to the different varieties grown in the area and the specificities of the microclimate. More specifically, irrigation water consumption was reduced by 36 to 70%, which contributed to maintaining soil moisture at levels that help to avoid conditions that would be favourable for the emergence of a disease. In addition, pesticide use was reduced at around 58 to 65%, indicating that producers performed targeted spraying without increasing the risk of infestation and without compromising the quality of their products. Finally, the impact for producers was twofold. First, they were able to maintain the quality of their production and second they noticed a reduction in production costs at 32 to 39%.
In conclusion, by following the appropriate cultivation practices suggested by the local agronomist/advisor it was possible for the producers to control the impact of the disease. The gaiasense smart farming solution is now an important ally, providing early warnings regarding the emergence of the disease.
Marianna Gkavrou│ Junior Project Manager – M. Eng. Agricultural Engineer
NOVAPLAN Agricultural Consultants -Studies -Certifications
Maria Liapoura │M. Sc. Agronomist
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