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Sensitivity of Disease Management Decision Aids to Temperature Input Errors Associated with Sampling Interval and Out-of-Canopy Sensor Placement

May 2012 , Volume 96 , Number  5
Pages  726 - 736

W. F. Pfender and D. H. Gent, United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit and Oregon State University Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, and W. F. Mahaffee, USDA-ARS Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory and Oregon State University Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Corvallis 97331

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Accepted for publication 7 December 2011.

Many plant disease epidemic models, and the disease management decision aids developed from them, are created based on temperature or other weather conditions measured in or above the crop canopy at intervals of 15 or 30 min. Disease management decision aids, however, commonly are implemented based on hourly weather measurements made from sensors sited at a standard placement of 1.5 m above the ground or are estimated from off-site weather measurements. We investigated temperature measurement errors introduced when sampling interval was increased from 15 to 60 min, and when actual in-canopy conditions were represented by temperature measurements collected by standard-placement sensors (1.5 m above the ground, outside the canopy) in each of three crops (grass seed, grape, and hops) and assessed the impact of these errors on outcomes of decision aids for grass stem rust as well as grape and hops powdery mildews. Decreasing time resolution from 15 to 60 min resulted in statistically significant underestimates of daily maximum temperatures and overestimates of daily minimum temperatures that averaged 0.2 to 0.4°C. Sensor location (in-canopy versus standard-placement) also had a statistically significant effect on measured temperature, and this effect was significantly less in grape or hops than in the grass seed crop. Effects of these temperature errors on performance of disease management decision aids were affected by magnitude of the errors as well as the type of decision aid. The grape and hops powdery mildew decision aids used rule-based indices, and the relatively small (±0.8°C) differences in temperature observed between in-canopy and standard placement sensors in these crops resulted in differences in rule outcomes when actual in-canopy temperatures were near a threshold for declaring that a rule had been met. However, there were only minor differences in the management decision (i.e., fungicide application interval). The decision aid for grass stem rust was a simulation model, for which temperature recording errors associated with location of the weather station resulted in incremental (not threshold) effects on the model of pathogen growth and plant infection probability. Simple algorithms were devised to correct the recorded temperatures or the computed infection probability to produce outcomes similar to those resulting from in-canopy temperature measurements. This study illustrates an example of evaluating (and, if necessary, correcting) temperature measurement errors from weather station sensors not located within the crop canopy, and provides an estimate of uncertainty in temperature measurements associated with location and sampling interval of weather station sensors.

This article is in the public domain and not copyrightable. It may be freely reprinted with customary crediting of the source. The American Phytopathological Society, 2012.