Early warning system for sustainable preventive management of potato late blight (Phytophthora infestans) in Latin America
The use of early warnings as a decision support tool in an integrated program helps farmers perform chemical control in a timely and efficient manner, reducing environmental impact and people's risk.
Context of the story
Potato, native to the Americas, is a major crop in Latin America, being the main food in small farming. Late blight, caused by Phytophthora infestans, is considered a re-emerging disease in this crop, due to pathogen variability and climate instability that favors its presence and dispersion, with a high incidence and severity. Farmers, therefore, use pesticides excessively and inappropriately, increasing the environmental impact and risk to the health of users. Implementing an early warning system as decision support tools in the small family farming of participating countries will reduce the losses caused by this disease, in a sustainable and safe way for the user.
Implementation of the early warning system in participating countries
The implemented initiative
This proposal proposes the formation of a platform of specialists in potato late bligh to develop and implement an early warning system and a seasonal alert system, as tools to support productive systems of family farming in participating countries, according to available technology and able to reduce the losses caused by this disease. Thus this information, together with the characterization of the pathogen-host relationship and training of users in integrated management and good agricultural practices according to productive objective, will promote the sustainable intensification of potato production. In this initiative, funded by FONTAGRO, INIA Chile participates as executor with INTA Argentina, INIAP Ecuador and IDIAP Panama as co-executors.
Early warning systems, integrated management and good agricultural practice, improve the efficiency of agrochemical use and increase potato crop productivity and profitability in small farming
The technological solution
The Early Warning System uses weather data alongside epidemiological information of the disease to estimate optimal control times. Two systems will be implemented, one based on real-time connected weather station network information (tizon.inia.cl, Phytoalert) and a manual system that uses local environmental condition observation (DSS-HH). Both systems enable farmers to make management decisions based on the information delivered, improving the efficiency of agrochemical use, increasing crop productivity and profitability. The beneficiaries will be small farmers in the platform member countries. In Chile, we will work with 35 female farmers producing potatoes landraces in Chiloe Island; Argentina will work with 6 farming families in Belgrano, Northern Argentina; in Ecuador the direct beneficiaries will be 120 farmers from the provinces of Cotopaxi, Pichincha and Chimborazo; while in Panama, 300 producers from the Cerro Punta, Chiriquí sector will be worked on.
"It is a great opportunity to know the work that is done in other countries and how they face the problem of late blight. I learned a lot today"
The platform of late blight specialists is formed and frequently meets in virtual work activities. A face-to-face workshop was held in Chiloé, Chile, where we worked on experimental methodologies and validation of the systems. Demonstrative units have been established to calibrate the efficiency of system, potato cultivars susceptibility and to standardize the control according to variety and the chemical control, in the member countries. The seasonal warning system has determined that monthly precipitation is a good indicator of risk to the disease. Monitoring Phytophthora infestans using FTA cards and in vivo samples has managed to gather a total of 331 samples for characterization. Fifteen workshops and field days have been performed with the beneficiaries focused on BPA, MIP and use of warning system, emphasizing the correct use of agrochemicals and opportunity for use.