Agricultural and food sciences
- Agricultural plant protection
- Agrofood mechatronics
Fusarium species are the main cause of trichothecene type B contamination in cereals. F. graminearum is considered to be the predominant pathogen causing Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) in many countries. FHB can also cause indirect loss, because the fungus contaminates grain with potent mycotoxins, especially deoxynivalenol. Mycotoxins are considered to have a significant impact on food and feed safety. Currently producers do not have a validated methodology to determine toxin contamination levels before harvesting the grain. Accordingly, they do not sort grain into different heath categories during crop harvest. The project will establish for the first time a novel solution to reduce the risk of mycotoxin contamination in food products originated from barley and wheat grains by adopting smart farming technologies. A system for the detection of the spatial distribution of FHB in the field, will be developed to predict the spatial distribution potential of mycotoxin contamination. Recommendation will be made for preventive site specific spraying (PSSS) of Fusarium fungicide in combination with selective harvest, aiming at reducing the risk of mycotoxin contamination in wheat and barley grains, which is expected to maximize the yield price, while minimize the risk to human health and livestock. The PSSS will reduce the risk of crop infection with FHB during the growing season, hence, reduces the risk of mycotoxin contamination of harvested grains consequently. Selective harvest will allow the grain harvested by a combine harvester to be sorted into three categories of healthy, slightly/moderately contaminated and contaminated classes. They will be used as human food, animal feed and bioenergy source, respectively. This will result in not only economic benefits to farmers by selling their yield with higher price, but also social benefits due to reducing the risk of human health by eating healthy grain-originated food products and also for feeding the livestock with non-contaminated fodders. The PSSS will also lead to reduce the amount of agrochemicals applied into the environment. Therefore, this project will increase farming profitability, and reduce environmental footprint and human risk related to consuming unhealthy food products originated from barley and wheat grains.