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What Is Fungicide Data Telling Us?

DR THOMAS GATE

Fungicides, as all inputs, are impacted by price volatility and variations in the weather. They have also been a part of the increasing input costs which are squeezing gross margins (Chart 1). 

Changes are taking place in application patterns, especially due to irregular weather, perhaps even leading to the requirement for T4 applications this year. 

As always, we believe solutions lie in accurate and verified data analysis, so I’d like to go through a few elements of my Fungicide research with you.  

Chart 1 – Increasing Fungicide Spend Over Time. 

Chart 2 – Distribution of Application Patterns 

Regarding the weather, it’s useful to look at Chart 2, which visualises inputs across years.  
 
The warm, wet March and April of 2018 can be seen to have caused a huge uptick in T1 applications in May that year. Compared to 2019 which saw a dry April, allowing earlier applications and necessitating less later... 

If you could visualise your inputs like this, what would it say about your operation? Would it offer an insightful opportunity for farm benchmarking? 
 
Interestingly, less than half of the farms analysed within our Chemical and Fertiliser Review were deploying T0 Fungicides, and data suggested that T2 is the costliest timing (Chart 3).  
 
Indeed, T1 timing £/ha was 22.2% less than T2, and T3 was 71.2% less. Knowing exactly when and where you’re going to be spending is important for budgeting and achieving that gross margin. If you’re planning your budget for the year, do you budget down to the individual timing? 

Chart 3 – Fungicide Spend Split by Timing.  

Chart 4 – Fungicide Spend Split by Timing and Septoria Resistance Score.  

If you’re considering optimising inputs, then it’s likely you’re reviewing your variety decisions. But what’s driving your variety decision overall? 

Is it traits like disease resistance? And, if so, have you ever visualised data to support your decision and see the impacts it’d have on your operation? 

If you’re spending more on a disease resistant variety, do you believe you’re consolidating that by saving on fungicide across the season?  

In Chart 4 (above) we’ve taken Septoria resistance as an example... T1 has average spend in line with high-to-low based on resistance score, but that changes at T2, with the medium resistance varieties seen to be receiving the highest fungicide spend /ha.  

What do you think this could signify?  

Were you simply expecting the more resistant varieties to be receiving less input throughout the season? 

For the fuller picture, download our free Chemical and Fertiliser Review 2024. And to see how your farm records could be brought to life and transformed into value for your business book a free demo of our tools with James – our in-house demo expert.  

Thomas Gate is an Analyst in the Data Team. With a passion for data and agriculture, Thomas grew up around farming and agronomy. With a day-to-day role of cleaning, processing and analysing complex data sets for bespoke farm projects, Thomas and the Data Team are exploring the endless possibilities of how data can be best used to aid and inform farmers. Outside of work...Thomas enjoys getting outdoors through playing football, running or a bit of gardening. He also likes to expand his programming skills with a variety of small projects.