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 family 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 health risks to users. Implementing an early warning system as a decision support tool in the small farming families of participating countries will reduce the losses caused by this disease, in a way that is sustainable and safe for the user.
Implementation of the early warning system in participating countries
The implemented initiative
This project proposes the formation of a platform of specialists in potato late blight 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, enabling reductions in losses caused by this disease. 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 objectives will promote the sustainable intensification of potato production. In this FONTAGRO-funded initiative, 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 native potatoes in Chiloe Island; in Argentina we 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, 20 producers from the Cerro Punta, Chiriquí sector will be worked with.
"It is a great opportunity to know the work that is done in other countries and how they deal with the problem of late blight. I learned a lot today"
It has been possible to validate the early warning systems for late blight in 4 countries: Chile, Argentina, Ecuador and Panama, where more than 29 demonstration units have been established, obtaining an efficiency of more than 50% in the reduction of agrochemical applications, environmental and economic impact, relative to a schedule calendar of applications. 528 isolates of P. infestans have been collected using FTA cards from Chile, Argentina, Panama, Ecuador, Brasil, Uruguay, Peru and Costa Rica, with a wide range of monitoring for a Latin American genotypic map. Potato chain actors have been trained in 55 workshops on best agricultural practices, integrated management and use of early warnings, emphasizing the correct use of agrochemicals and timely applications. In addition, there have been 8 field days and seminars, two international symposium and two workshops for co-executors and associates, with a total participation of 2761 people (42 % women).