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New platform for 'all things aphid' combines know-how, research and monitoring

A new digital platform for aphid management in cereal crops provides New Zealand arable growers with easy-to-access information, all in one place, to help them decide if they need to use insecticides or not.

Developed by the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) and HortPlus, the Aphid Chat web-based information platform brings together aphid reproduction rate modeling with monitoring data from regional sites that track local populations of aphids and the beneficial insects that prey on them.

The platform also includes relevant curated information from authoritative sources on topics including beneficial insects, crop growth stages, insecticide options and considerations for aphid management, and the toxicity of various insecticides for resident beneficial insects.

FAR Technology Manager Chris Smith describes the platform as a “one-stop shop for everything to do with aphids” and says the genesis for the tool was growers themselves.

“People have been saying they can’t find the information in different places and they wanted everything in one place. It was about bringing it all together, so it’s on your phone, or a website, where you can look at it instantly.

“It also considers weather data from HortPlus and we will soon release functions that take into account the growth stage of the crop and whether growers have used insecticide on their seed to provide more risk insight. This will complement the current functionality of aphid and beneficial insect monitoring and aphid reproduction modeling by making clear guidance for growers on the level of aphid risk to their crop.”

HortPlus director Mike Barley says collaborating with FAR and other experts had led to the creation of “a valuable tool for all things aphid” that would aid practical decision making.

“At a glance you can see the latest aphid and beneficial insect monitoring details, the situation report for a particular location, the reproduction rates of aphids in that area, and ultimately the overall risk bringing this all together.

"Working closely with FAR and other organisations on the curated information covering monitoring processes, aphid predators, parasites and control options has created an easily-updatable platform that includes summaries of the most current research, along with guidance to growers on where to find more knowledge.”

As well as reducing crop losses through better understanding of aphids, the tool could also help to decrease overall insecticide use by highlighting non-chemical options growers can harness for aphid management as part of a “more holistic integrated pest management approach”, Barley said.

“There is a real need to bring key information together into a single easy-to-find location so growers making decisions can access everything they need to know about a topic.

“Our work with FAR to support aphid management is just the start. There’s still a lot more we want to do with aphids and there’s huge potential to replicate and develop the ‘one-stop-shop information platform’ concept in other areas, including irrigation, fertiliser, and more.”

Aphid Chat is live and available to visit at

Listen to FAR’s latest Cut the Crop podcast to learn more about Aphid Chat:

Screenshot of the Aphid Chat tool on a tablet computer