Evaluation of UAV-Applied Fungicides for Control of Wheat Diseases

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Description

Evaluation of UAV-applied fungicides for control of wheat diseases Dr. Carl Bradley, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Kentucky, carl.bradley@uky.edu Dr. Tim Stombaugh, Department of Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering, University of Kentucky, tim.stombaugh@uky.edu Wheat diseases are one of the most important risks that farmers in Kentucky must manage on an annual basis. From 2018 to 2020, wheat diseases caused an estimated total loss of approximately 1.3 million bushels worth approximately $6.8 million (https://cropprotectionnetwork.org/). Foliar fungicides can help manage important diseases such as leaf blotches and Fusarium head blight, but application at the right stages is critical to achieve the best efficacy and return on investment. Unfortunately, poor weather conditions can limit the ability to apply fungicides with a ground sprayer. Applying fungicides with fixed-wing or helicopter applicators can help alleviate the problem of applying fungicides under wet soil conditions, but availability of aerial applicators in certain regions of Kentucky is low. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs; “drones”) in field crop production is on the increase. One of the potential uses of drones that has been relatively untapped at this point in time is for application of foliar fungicides. UAVs could add another fungicide application option for wheat growers in Kentucky. In 2021, a pilot research project was conducted in Adair County, KY to determine the efficacy Miravis Ace fungicide for Fusarium head blight control when applied by a UAV (Fig 1). Preliminary results of this pilot project showed that this method of application may be effective. Fig. 1. UAV equipped with a spay boom used to apply fungicide on wheat in a pilot research project in Adair County, KY in 2021. The aim of this proposed research is to evaluate efficacy and leaf and head coverage of different fungicides applied by a UAV in a replicated on-farm research trial in Adair County, KY in the 2022 growing season. In addition to measuring fungicide coverage and disease control, yield, test weight, and DON contamination of grain will be measured. The results of this research may help improve sustainable disease control options available for Kentucky wheat farmers. The total amount of support requested is: $3,860.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date9/1/2112/31/22

Funding

  • Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association: $3,860.00

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