Results of a small survey amongst farmers and advisers in the UK on their evaluation of the proPlant pollen beetle migration tool and its influence on their practice


Abstract: One of the major impediments to the use of action thresholds for pollen beetle control in oilseed rape has been that proper field monitoring of beetle populations is time consuming and is potentially required over a prolonged period. proPlant Expert is a decision support system (DSS) that uses phenological models parameterised by local meteorological data to forecast pest risks. It is able to forecast the start and end of pollen beetle immigration into the crop and to advise of the main risk periods and when to monitor. The proPlant pollen beetle migration forecasting tool was made publicly available in the UK on the Bayer CropScience website in spring 2012, encouraged by the success of trials by Rothamsted. Three forecasting maps were provided each day with a traffic light warning system indicating: (1) the risk of migration starting (2) the risk of new migration (3) percent completion of migration. We conducted a small impact survey in spring 2012 to obtain feedback from users of the forecasting tool to support future improvements and delivery of the tool and thereby to encourage uptake. The survey consisted of a one page multiple-choice questionnaire with 17 questions grouped under five headings.Eighteen farmers and agronomists responded to the call for survey participants. Of these, 10 completed the survey. In this small survey there was overwhelmingly positive feedback. There was clear endorsement of the manner in which the pollen beetle risk forecasting tool was presented and explained. Most users found the tool informative and all found it helpful. Feedback indicated that users were making intelligent use of proPlant in the context of their experience in the field, as intended. Respondents found that the forecasts corresponded with events in the field and reported that the tool increased their confidence in decision-making, giving them peace of mind. Moreover, using proPlant reduced eight out of ten users’ estimation of pollen beetle risk and seven believed they had used fewer sprays for pollen beetle control as a result. Eight out of the ten respondents said they would certainly recommend proPlant to a friend.

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