person in lab coat

Diseases can reduce yield, increase the cost of production and influence how growers and consultants manage their properties, with farming practices having a significant effect on the spread and severity of diseases present.

Effective integrated disease management (IDM) involves using a range of control strategies to assist with managing disease concerns and the risk of disease affecting field and farm productivity. Whilst some may believe that IDM is important when you have a disease problem, IDM practices should be implemented regardless of whether or not a disease problem is evident.

Integrated disease management should be all year round, with disease control strategies able to be implemented at planting, in crop, post-harvest and as part of day-to-day activities.

We spoke with cotton pathologist Dr Linda Smith from Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (pictured) to get her thoughts on what practices she believes should be the cornerstone of every IDM strategy.

1. Proper identification

“Proper identification of what is causing the disease is important so that you can choose the appropriate combination of disease management tactics. For example, Fusarium and Verticillium wilts can look very similar, but choice of variety will differ if planting a high V-rank or high F-rank whilst the management of residues also differs for the pathogens due to their difference in saprophytic ability as well as suitable crop rotations.”

A free diagnostic service is available to cotton growers and consultants. Please contact your state pathologist before sending in samples.

  • QLD DAF: Dr Linda Smith 0457 547 617
  • NSW DPI: Dr Duy Le 0439 941 542 or Dr Karen Kirkby 0428 944 500 

2. Understand the pathogen's lifecycle

“An understanding of the pathogen's lifecycle and the conditions that are conducive to each disease will help you to anticipate when your crop is most at risk of disease development so you can follow up more intensely to monitor for disease and implement management as necessary.”

The Cotton Pest Management Guide highlights endemic cotton diseases and the conditions favoured by different pathogens.

3. Keep records of your farm and field activities

“I think it is really important to monitor your activities and keep good records of what you have done and the results of those actions. Records should be used to assess whether you are choosing the best options. This allows you to continually improve your management strategy.”

For more information on IDM:

Read the Cotton Pest Management GuideRead the Cotton Symptoms GuideVisit the myBMP IPM – insect, weeds disease module

This blog is part of a year long program from CottonInfo, with the themes aligned with the 2020 CottonInfo cotton calendar and the UN's International Year of Plant Health. For more information, view the calendar, or contact the CottonInfo Technical Lead for Biosecurity, Sharna Holman