Pre-harvest measures against Fusarium spp. infection and related mycotoxins implemented by Dutch wheat farmers

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Fusarium spp. are one of the most widespread mycotoxin-producing fungi in small-grain cereals like wheat. Their rate of infection and production of mycotoxins is mainly influenced by weather and pre-harvest agronomic measures. Consequently, farmers' prevention and control of mycotoxins are imperative since it is difficult to remove mycotoxins further down the cereal supply chain. This study aimed to (i) identify which pre-harvest preventive and control measures Dutch wheat farmers currently apply against Fusarium spp. infection and mycotoxin contamination and to (ii) examine which farm and farmer characteristics explain the implementation of these measures. Field data on pre-harvest measures, like the selection of resistant varieties, fungicide use, and crop rotation, along with farm and farmer characteristics were collected from Dutch wheat farmers via an online questionnaire. Probit models were applied to examine farm and farmer characteristics that explain the implementation of pre-harvest measures. Results showed that most farmers applied six or more different measures against Fusarium spp. infection and mycotoxin contamination in wheat and that the use of pre-harvest measures is related to at least one other measure. However, results indicated that about 44% of farmers could become more effective if they implemented a benchmark approach consisting of a combination of fungicide use during flowering, selection of a Fusarium resistant wheat variety, and plowing or crop rotation. Five out of the ten evaluated farm and farmer characteristics significantly (p < 0.05) explained the implementation of at least one of the eight pre-harvest control measures. These five farm and farmer characteristics include wheat as main income crop, the use of a decision support system, the education level of the farmer, the farmer's knowledge about mycotoxins, and the farmer's level of risk aversion. Insight into relevant characteristics can be used by farmer cooperatives, processing industries and government agencies to improve the overall mycotoxin management of wheat farmers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-18
JournalCrop Protection
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

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