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Spore Trapping




Farming Smarter Project

Timeline: 2019-2023

Project Contact: Ken Coles




Disease infestations can quickly devastate crops. A low tech, cost effective and simple advanced warning system may be achieved with the use of commercially available passive, air filter based, spore collectors. Positioned in and around fields, these cartridges can collect fungal spores which are sent to a lab and analyzed using a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qCPR) for the presence of several pathogens. A one day turn around test can deliver results directly to growers or agronomists. This information will be integrated with Alberta Agriculture’s pest surveillance network and the Alberta Wheat Commissions’ fusarium head blight risk tool where possible. The goal is to create a more data rich risk management and warning systems for disease outbreaks that includes confirmed presence of pathogen spores. Due to higher risks of infection and economic loss, phase 1 will focus on irrigated fields.


To evaluate the Spornado passive spore trap as a decision support tool for managing crop pathogens including leaf/stem rust and fusarium head blight in wheat and sclerotina/white mold in canola and dry beans.

· To determine optimal location within a field for spore trap placement.

· To determine the number of traps required in a field.

· To correlate spore testing results with weather conditions and disease incidence

· Share experiences through Farming Smarter Extension (KTT) Program


Six irrigated fields, two wheat, canola and dry bean, will be studied for three years. Three spore traps per field will be placed at a different locations:

1. High risk area – low spot or previously known area of infection

2. Normal risk area – medium elevation and flat

3. Check – Field Edge

Location: Southern Alberta – Lethbridge County, M.D of Taber, County of Forty Mile and Cypress County

Total spore traps: 6 X 3 = 18

Testing frequency: once per week for six weeks

Testing will be initiated based on growth stage of plants as follows:

1. Wheat: jointing (Zadoks GS 30)

2. Canola: bolting (BBCH GS 30)

3. Dry Bean: budding (V5 or V8)

Total number of filter cartridges to be tested per year: 6 X 18 = 108 X 3 years = 324

Pathogens tested:

1. puccinia striiformis (stripe rust)

2. fusarium graminearum (fusarium head blight)

3. sclerotinia sclerotiorum (sclerotinia/white mold)

Data Collection:

1. Cropping, disease history for previous three years

2. Crop type and variety

3. Install hobo stations at each location: precipitation, humidity, temp, wind

4. Plant stand at spore trap

5. Growth stage at two week intervals

6. Install spore traps

7. Laboratory analysis via 20/20 Seed Labs Inc.

8. Disease ratings at traps 10 plants for 6 ratings during filter changes

9. 1m^2 biomass and yield at traps

10. Grain quality analysis for samples


Come back in 2023 for results 


Come back in 2023 for results 


Spornado spore trap

The Spornado captures spores floating in the winds and stores them in a capsule. Technicians can take the capsule to a lab and test for White Mold, Fusarium, Sclerotina levels in a field to aid decisions around crop treatments.


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