Swedish research produces new model for studying and predicting impact of late blight on potatoes

A recent study, conducted by a team of scientists at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and The Rural Economy and Agricultural Society, focused on creating a streamlined dynamic yield loss simulation model that couples a simple epidemiological model of late blight disease with a basic model of potato crop growth. The model uses 17 years of field data on disease progress of potato late blight and potato yield in southern Sweden.

Mechanistic simulation models serve as invaluable tools for understanding complex biological systems such as crop-pathogen-environment systems. These models empower users by providing a means to measure the extent of damage in any given agroecosystem and assist in making both tactical and strategic decisions regarding disease and pest management.

The model used in this study, named POTATOPEST, is an adapted version of WHEATPEST and RICEPEST, two mechanistic, process-based models originally developed for wheat and rice. In this particular context, the POTATOPEST model is used to meticulously investigate the devastating effects of P. infestans on potato crops.

This robust model provides reasonable estimates of tuber yield and its reduction caused by this formidable pathogen. It is also a powerful tool for assessing the role of disease growth rate and infection onset in yield reduction. Furthermore, the model explores the impact of rising temperatures, suggesting an interesting scenario where yield losses may decrease as the pathogen deviates from its optimal developmental conditions.


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