Pest and Disease Survey in Wheat
Pest and Disease Survey in Oilseed Rape
Pest and Disease Survey in Oilseed Rape

Structure of the project

 Introduction and project rationale

The project is organised into 4 work packages, each with defined deliverables and milestones.  An overview of each work package is included below.

The survey will introduce innovation whilst protecting the value of the long-term data set and is guided by the following overarching principles:
  • Everyone will have simple, efficient and prompt access to the data.
  • Methods will be implemented for open data access, whilst protecting the identity of surveyed farms.
  • Priorities will be guided by stakeholders.
  • Analysis, interpretation and communication will focus on the needs of each group of stakeholders.
  • Methodology will remain consistent with previous surveys, to ensure comparability between sites and seasons and maintain the integrity of the long-term data set.
  •  Innovative methods and new technology will be introduced to provide more valuable survey outputs and increase efficiency.
  • Each innovation will be calibrated against previous methods to ensure the continued integrity of the long-term data set.

 Work Package 1:  Stakeholder engagement


Enable stakeholders’ input to guide survey priorities, methodologies and innovations. Ensure data, analysis and findings are communicated effectively to stakeholders, to maximise impact and public good.


ADAS has contacts in all the major agricultural stakeholder groups.  A Steering Committee will be assembled and will be responsible for strategic direction and prioritising activities of the survey.  The Steering Committee will also hold the ADAS Project Management team to account for delivery.  The Diverse Stakeholder Engagement Group will bring further expertise and knowledge to the team and will engage with the Steering Committee on a bi-annual basis.
Survey findings will be communicated via key reporting routes:
  1. Reporting back to participating farmers.  Each participant will receive a copy of their individual results with national and regional benchmark values for comparison.
  2. Reporting to Defra.  An annual report will be submitted to Defra which covers progress in each financial year. 
  3. Reporting to stakeholders.  A series of mini-reports will be uploaded to the website and will present findings from pest and disease observations as they occur throughout the season.
  4. Making data publicly available will be achieved through the Interactive Platform.
  5. Papers and technical articles arising from the survey data will published on the website.
  6. ADAS will promote the project and report key findings at various scientific conferences, industry events, via social media (Twitter) and through engagement with the popular press.

In order to maximise the usefulness of the survey and the impact of the data ADAS will seek collaborations and align the survey with synergistic projects and initiatives.  We will never share data in a way that identifies individual sites or participants.    


  • Formation of a Project Steering Committee.
  • Formation a Diverse Stakeholder Engagement Group.
  • Communications and knowledge exchange plan implemented.

 Work Package 2:  Crop pest & disease assessment


Survey pests and diseases of wheat and oilseed rape and ensure consistency with previous surveys.


Approximately 300 fields of wheat and 85 fields of oilseed rape will be surveyed each year.  Sites will be selected at random from Defra June agricultural census returns and will be stratified across England and Wales by region and farm size.
A diagrammatic timeline of sampling activity is shown below.  Timing of assessments is triggered by crop growth stage rather than calendar date so the representation below is approximate.  The timing of assessments and the methodology used to assess the crops is consistent with previous surveys, to maintain the integrity of the long-term data set.
Oilseed rape diseases are assessed at three key timings; late autumn mid leaf production, spring stem extension and pod ripening.  Wheat diseases are assessed on one occasion at GS73 - 75 (early - medium milk).  Thirty representative whole plants (oilseed rape) or tillers (wheat) are collected from each field and taken to the laboratory where a sub-set of 25 plants or tillers are assessed for disease severity and remaining healthy green leaf area.  All pests and disease present on the plant are recorded and all plant parts are examined - leaves, stems, pods (when present) and ears.  Individual leaf layers are assessed separately for wheat.
In-field pest assessments are carried out in both crops by assessing up to 100 random plants along a tramline.  Natural enemies are recorded on the plants or within 20cm of the plant if on the soil surface.  The natural enemies of aphids are generalised into groups for ease of recording.  Cabbage stem flea beetle larvae are assessed in late autumn and spring.  
The project team will engage regularly with stakeholders throughout the season via its networks and will remain responsive to rapid changes in pest and disease pressure within season, so as not to miss the opportunity to assess the less frequently occurring epidemics. 
Agronomic information such as variety, sowing date and rotational history is collected from each field along with comprehensive pesticide input details.

Figure 1.  Timeline of sampling activity.  Oilseed rape assessments are shown along the top row and wheat assessments are shown along the bottom row.


  • Data set of wheat and oilseed rape pest and disease observations.
  • Corresponding data set of crop input details and other agronomic factors such as variety.
  • Individual field reports sent to each participating farmer.

 Work Package 3:  Data accessibility


Develop a web-based platform for the survey that provides stakeholders with open access to the data, analyses and interpretation.


Methods will be implemented to reconcile open data access with the need to protect the personal data and identity of farmer participants in the survey.  Data will be made publicly accessible to all stakeholders through the use of a web platform underpinned by a microservices architecture. This approach will ensure that key functions (e.g. database updating, visualisation of data, risk mapping) can be provided by individual microservices that make updating and maintaining the web platform more efficient. 
The database will be designed to ensure consistency with the historical data from previous surveys, while being extensible and flexible enough to cope with any future proposed amendments to the survey methodology.  Where standard analyses to produce either long-term trends or mappings are available, these would be built into the platform as additional services, allowing the visualisation of the data to respond dynamically to user selections relating to crops, pests & diseases, regions and timescales.


  • All data made freely and easily accessible.
  • A web platform for the survey that provides the following functionality:
    • Pre-prepared trend graphs & maps, and database.
    • Dynamic visualisation of pest & disease risks and threats.

 Work Package 4:  Survey innovations


Test the feasibility, usefulness and efficiency gains from key innovations. Develop and implement the most valuable innovations.


We will review the survey methodology to ensure the most appropriate methods are being used in the project.  Innovations in the survey will not compromise the integrity, and comparability between seasons, of the historic long-term data set.  We will manage the introduction of new methods carefully, ensuring that each introduction of an innovation is calibrated against the current methods.  Innovations under consideration include, but are not limited to; extending the scope of organisms surveyed, assessment of beneficials and natural enemies, use of molecular diagnosis to identify cryptic pathogens, image analysis, citizen science, creation of an image library for training purposes, provision of pest and pathogen samples to monitor emerging strains, efficient CSFB larval assessment.  Innovations which support the accuracy of assessments and increase the value of the project will considered favourably.  The project team will review the innovations and propose priority innovations to the Steering Committee to agree phasing of development and implementation.


  • Optimised survey methodology (inc. review of sample size and stratification).
  • Validated efficient CSFB larval assessment methodology.
  • Analysis of the historical data set, targeted at policy guidance needs.
  • Report on the feasibility and usefulness of innovations.
  • Priority innovations implemented.

Any Questions?

The most commonly asked questions about the project can be found in our FAQ section

If you would like to enquire about the survey please fill out the form in the Contact Us page.

 Contact Us
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