Following COVID, pretty much everyone is familiar with some type of rapid diagnostic test. These simple kits can perform a quick on-site test without needing a lab or any extra equipment. The technology behind most of these tests is called lateral flow. Which is also used in most store-bought pregnancy tests. But did you know lateral flow is now being adapted for the agricultural industry?
These new tests are creating new possibilities for how farmers can manage plant health and disease. Cubed Labs has developed its own rapid lateral flow test, CRD™ Botrytis, for the fungal pathogen botrytis, also known as gray mold. But like any tool and there are many ways they can be used depending on the farm. Here are some of the different strategies we have found to use these tests.
Instead of just sampling one plant, make a combined sample from multiple plants. This helps track disease pressure over a larger area but may make identifying individual infected plants more difficult.
Collecting air samples allows testing over much large areas to watch what might be blowing into your farm. Testing air samples works best when culturing the samples overnight, allowing time for spores to germinate before the test.
Experiment with WHEN you test
Incorporating tests as part of one’s routine supplies consistent data to improve growing methods. Over time this reveals when disease pressure increases and may even be used to discover where disease is introduced.
Tests can be used to check seeds and transplants to reduce the chance of bringing in new diseases. They can even be used to test certain inputs like soil to ensure they are clean.
Certain pathogens, like botrytis, do a lot of damage after harvest by causing premature rot. Testing can be used to check that produce is disease free and help reduce food waste in the supply chain.
Tests can be used after an infection is found to correctly identify the disease and make sure the right treatments are used. Even as experienced growers we still misidentify some infections.
Rapid tests can be used after post-treatment to check that it was effective. This is best done as part of regular testing, so you can track if an infection is cured, remains the same or progresses.
Rapid tests are beginning to change the possibilities of farming and every grower will have their own best way using these new tools. If you want to learn more about rapid testing and the work Cubed Labs is doing, please get in touch with us, www.cubedlabs.com/hello. Or check out another recent article on why we think on-site testing is so important, “How Crop Testing Can Help You Reach Your Goals”.
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