Efficiency and Effectivity of a Biological–Epidemiological Fungal Disease Management System in Wheat—A Study of 26 Years

Foliar diseases are a major threat to worldwide wheat production, especially during the
vegetative period in maritime climates. Despite advancements in agronomic practices, infestations
by foliar diseases are possible under favourable weather conditions, thus, fungicides are essential
for maintaining control. Stage-oriented applications are therefore common in farm practices. The
optimization of fungicide use according to biological–epidemiological thresholds reduces the total
amount of fungicides used, which is of political interest, especially in the European Union. Therefore,
the efficiency and effectivity of the fungicides used to control the six major foliar diseases (Septoria
tritici blotch, glume blotch, tans spot, powdery mildew, stripe rust, and leaf rust) were analysed in a
long-term study of 26 years in northern Germany under favourable maritime conditions. Of those
diseases, Septoria tritici blotch was the most dominant recurring disease, with high severity noted
in every year of the study. The threshold-based disease management system was compared to a
fungicide untreated control and a healthy-standard fungicide treatment (according to growth stages).
The usage of the threshold-based system reduced the disease severities significantly compared to the
fungicide untreated control, without any loss of yield compared to the healthy-standard fungicide
treatment. Thereby, the use of fungicides was reduced by two thirds compared to the stage-oriented
healthy-standard treatment. Thus, the advantages of the threshold-based system were obvious, and
this approach will be an important tool for future evaluations of current farm practices.


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