Transferring innovation into practical agriculture to manage mycotoxins

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In Italy, mycotoxins are of great concern for cereal production in generai and for durum wheat and pasta production in particular. In an innovative project, researchers have recently developed procedures for the sustainable production of high quality pasta from high quality durum wheat. A key Starting with basic research carried out at the University of Piacenza (Italy) on the biology and epidemiology of the main fungal species involved in the Fusarium head blight (FHB) complex, researchers developed a multispecies, mechanistic model that includes the effect of weather (temperature, relative humidity, wetness, and rainfall) on: (i) inoculum production and dispersal; (ii) infection and disease onset; and (iii) mycotoxin (deoxynivalenol and zearalenone) accumulation. The ability of this weather-driven model to predict risk of infection and mycotoxin contamination was validated under a range of epidemiological conditions. The model was then expanded to include those crop management options that significantly modify the risk of FHB and mycotoxin contamination, i.e., plant resistance, previous crop, soil management, and fungicide sprays. The complete FHB model was then included in a web-based Decision Support System (DSS) that was developed by Horta (a spin-off company of the University of Piacenza;®. This DSS" provides plot-specific and up-to-date warnings and support information that helps durum wheat farmers make decisions about multiple crop management actions (e.g., sowing, fertilisation, weed and disease control), including those that affect FHB and mycotoxins. Implemented by Barilla, one of the top pasta producers in Italy, the DSS" is currently used by hundreds of farmers to sustainably manage the durum wheat crops used for pasta production. Use of the DSS has reduced external inputs (e.g., fungicides and fertilisers) and costs, maintained or increased crop yield, greatly reduced mycotoxin contamination, reduced emission of greenhouse gasses, and increased farmer income. New DSS functionalities are being developed, and these include the addition of Fusarium species and mycotoxins to the mechanistic model. Similar DSSs are under development for common wheat and barley. DSSs would also be useful for grain buyers. The idea is to develop a scenario-based system for optimising sampling for mycotoxin analyses, depending on the predicted risk in the area where the grain is produced.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteMycotoxin control: the systems approach
Numero di pagine2
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2014
EventoThe World Mycotoxin Forum - 8th Conference Mycotoxin control: the system approach - Vienna
Durata: 10 nov 201412 nov 2014


ConvegnoThe World Mycotoxin Forum - 8th Conference Mycotoxin control: the system approach


  • DSS
  • Fusarium head blight
  • durum wheat


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