Phone surveys. Nobody likes doing them. Who has the time? Surely there’s something else to be done than talking to a CCDM researcher?
But thanks to some 137 growers from the WA Wheatbelt who did give up the time (a massive thank you!), our researchers now have insight into how growers deal with fungicide resistance, and how we can help you manage it.
The survey asked growers to define fungicide resistance, and from this one question, three themes emerged:
- The majority of growers – 27% – defined fungicide resistance as an economic issue, defining it as something that would affect the income of their business. They used phrases like “expensive, making barley less economic to grow”, “it affects agribusiness statewide” and “wasting your money”.
- 21% of growers defined fungicide resistance in relation to efficacy of fungicide treatment, and when cheaper fungicides fail to provide adequate protection. They used phrases like: “the pathogen is no longer controlled by the chemistry we are using”.
- What was unexpected, about 20% of growers defined fungicide resistance using emotions, using words such as frustrating, stressful and worrying. One grower remarked “Scary. Definitely a looming issue. We haven’t got it yet, but it is something that we are very worried about.”
By asking growers to define fungicide resistance, one point became very clear: growers are concerned about the threat of fungicide resistance and the economic impact it will have on their properties.
Check out this video for an overview of the survey:
Where were the grower respondents from?
The 137 grower respondents were from WA’s Wheatbelt. This map shows their distribution according to the postcode they provided – larger dots mean more growers were from that postcode.
How growers defined fungicide resistance – the breakdown of emerging themes
How are growers managing fungicide resistance?
It is very clear from the survey that grower management decisions are driven by return on investment.
We know this, because the two most commonly used strategies for managing fungicide resistance are crop rotation (87% of respondents rotate crops) and resistant varieties (78% grow resistant varieties). As they are non-chemical strategies, they are also the most cost-effective.
On the contrary, less than 50% of growers said they use fungicide mixtures – a more expensive strategy for management of resistance.
What would it take for a grower to change practice?
From the survey, we now know for certain that yield or profit would need to be affected for 90% of growers to make a change to their system. This is useful for us. In order to see practice change from our research, communications of fungicide resistance management will need to promote higher yields and therefore profit.
On average, a grower will spend $30 per hectare on fungicide treatment. If fungicide resistance were to develop on their farm, growers said they would likely spend an extra $18 per hectare (on average) to stop fungicide resistance from developing or to minimise the impact.
However, in marginal areas, growers were only likely to spend an extra $10 per hectare to manage resistance problems. This tells us that management practices for reducing fungicide resistance needs to be affordable for them to be adopted.
This survey was brought to you by….
CCDM researchers Toto Olita, Mark Gibberd, Billy Sung, Matthew Barber, Bethany Hooper and Zhanglong Cao.
Surveys. Love them or hate them, they still have an important place in research. And if you are a grower from the WA Wheatbelt who recently took part in a CCDM survey – thank you!