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The SCN Coalition: Increasing awareness and sustainable yields

Principal Investigator: Milad Eskandari & Albert Tenuta

Research Institution: University of Guelph

Timeline: April 2021 – March 2023  

Objectives:

  • Evaluations of effectiveness of soybean cyst nematode (SCN) sources of resistance (management trials).
  • Evaluations of nematicides and other products for SCN control.
  • Technology transfer of project results and increase awareness of SCN and corn IPM management practices.
  • Continue to work with US soybean checkoff grower organizations (United Soybean Board, North Central Soybean Research Program), researchers, extension and industry partners focusing on limiting SCN-related yield loss.
  • Establish Ontario SCN benchmark data by conducting a grower survey to assess grower awareness of SCN and the ‘SCN crisis.’ These data will be used to:
  • Determine the impact of the SCN Coalition on grower awareness and management of SCN by determining changes in grower behaviour to measure the results of the SCN Coalition.
  • Distribute and publicize results of the survey/market research.
  • Strategically plan for the evolution of the SCN Coalition and research priorities.

Impacts:

  • The success of our project will lead to increased awareness of the yield loss that SCN causes, increased awareness about the importance of sampling to stay informed about SCN egg numbers, and increased awareness about the tools available to minimize losses caused by SCN and maximize growers’ return on investment of SCN tools.
  • Increase active management of SCN by growers and industry thereby maximizing the effectiveness of the PI88788 source of genetic resistance which will help preserve the effectiveness of the current sources of SCN resistance. We simply have no alternative resistance sources readily available in commercial soybean varieties to totally replace PI88788.
  • Reducing yield losses from SCN among growers by demonstrating the benefits of an effective SCN IPM management strategy and the integration of available tools such as SCN resistance sources, SCN sampling/scouting, nematicide seed treatments, non-host crops, etc. in decreasing SCN losses and increasing economic profitability.
  • Another benefit of this project will be that the continued success of local SCN Coalition activities and outreach efforts, such as Ontario’s (highlighted below), will help soybean growers continue to chip away at reducing losses caused by SCN field-by-field. The additional development of a Soybean Nematode Management Guide will be a valuable resource that will provide a near-term benefit to soybean growers, helping them better manage SCN.
  • Conduct a survey to assess grower awareness of SCN and the “SCN crisis” thus establishing an Ontario benchmark which will be used to guide SCN strategic management strategies similar to the partners in the USA.

Scientific Summary:

The most recent Crop Protection Network soybean disease loss estimates 2010-2019 found over $1 billion (USD) in economic losses due to soybean cyst nematode (SCN) annually in the northern soybean production areas, including Ontario. To put it into perspective, the losses to SCN were more than twice as much yield loss than any other disease, which is supported by Bandara et al. (PLoS One (15(4) 2020) who looked at the economic impact of soybean diseases from 1996-2006 in the US.  In Ontario, the annual SCN losses range from $30-53 million CDN dollars even though SCN management options are available. The losses in Ontario are poised to increase dramatically in coming years as the erosion of SCN resistance conferred by PI88788 genetics becomes more common across the province.  To date, Ontario’s SCN population and distribution is where many of the US states were 20 years ago, and we must avoid their mistakes. 

Past involvement in the SCN Coalition enabled delivery of local activities and promotion of SCN awareness and management to Ontario field crop producers through the establishment and completion of SCN resistance management field demonstration trials, nematicide trials and various technology transfer activities. This project will continue local Ontario SCN awareness activities and coordination with our 28 US states SCN coalition partners as we ‘turn up the volume’ on SCN.

Unfortunately, we are observing many SCN PI88788 varieties which had performed well in the past in Ontario starting to fail and have higher SCN reproduction levels than expected.  For all intended purposes, these areas of the fields as stated above acted as if a susceptible variety had been planted.  Exacerbating the situation, SCN is intimately linked with Brown Stem Rot and Sudden Death Syndrome, and it is well known that SCN makes yield loss from these diseases much greater.  What’s worse is that the many growers are completely unaware of the situation and the associated “hidden yield losses” associated with SCN as well as nematodes which impact corn. We also propose to conduct a survey to assess grower awareness of SCN and the “SCN crisis” thus establishing an Ontario benchmark which will be used to determine and maximize ROI, impact, and guide SCN strategic management strategies similar to the US partners.

External Funding Partners:

This project was funded in part by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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