You too can be a plant paramedic

Jay Cummins and TOPCROP Development Officer Erica Hancock with the Block Kit, one of two new kits prepared by TOPCROP to help growers identify crop diseases

Graingrowers can add the title 'plant paramedic' to their list of many skills with the help of the Crop Doctor Field Diagnostic Kit or the Block Kit.

An initiative of TOPCROP West, Crop Doctor allows growers to make an on-the-spot diagnosis of any unhealthy plant symptoms visible above ground.

In South Australia, TOPCROP has produced the Block Kit to assist growers in the practical identification of root diseases in the paddock.

Separately or together, the two kits take much of the guesswork out of crop-disease diagnosis and put some rigour into the process, says TOPCROP' national manager Ross Cutler.

Crop Doctor flags critical stages

Crop Doctor consists of six diagnostic cards, one each for cereals, lupins, canola, chickpeas, faba beans and field peas. The diagnostic cards are keyed to critical stages for each crop from the seedling stage to maturity.

"For many crop diseases, it's crucial to be right on top of the situation," TOPCROP West Development Officer, Camray Gethin, said. "If you have chocolate spot in your faba bean crop, for instance, significant yield losses can occur in a matter of days if you don't diagnose it and treat appropriately."

Block Kit shows exactly what it looks like

The Block Kit offers a collection of disease-affected plants, individually preserved and packaged in perspex, so that the tell-tale symptoms of root diseases such as take-all and cereal cyst nematode are immediately evident.

"It fits in well with the field-based monitoring done by TOPCROP groups," said TOPCROP SA Coordinator, Jay Cummins.

Both kits come with a range of tools from a field magnifier and test sample bags to field guides on plant disorders and Ute Guides on cereal diseases.

Crop Doctor is expected to retail for $285, while the Block Kit sells for $200.

Contact: Crop Doctor— Mr Camray Gethin 08 90813111

The Block Kit— Primary Industries and Resources SA 08 8865 2483