Texting to Fight Wheat Scab
Wheat is one of the world's most important food crops, providing 20 percent of all protein and calories in the human diet. But wheat scab remains a major threat to profitable production and a reliable supply, both in the United States and overseas. Scab reduces yields and grain quality and produces a toxin that can make people and animals sick.
Work by the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, an ARS-led coalition, has reduced scab losses eightfold since 2004. ARS researchers are also using disease-resistant varieties of wheat to help farmers combat wheat scab.
They have developed a Web-based tool and text-alert early-warning system that lets farmers know when conditions for scab have reached critical levels, so they can take steps to combat the threat by applying fungicides in their fields.