Curtin University would like to invite schools to help with an ongoing citizen-science research project aimed at protecting West Australia’s barley and wheat crops from the damaging effect of powdery mildew disease. In WA, this disease causes the most economic impact on barley and wheat. Barley powdery mildew costs Australian farmers over $100 million annually through chemical control and lost yield and is a major concern for the future of farming. During the late 1990's and early 2000's Wheat Powdery Mildew haven't been an issue until a rainy 2015, lead to more wide spread damage from the disease. Researchers at Curtin University’s Centre for Crop and Disease Management aim to give plant breeders and growers the tools they require to control this disease and therefore reduce the state’s losses.
This project is a school-based citizen science program providing valuable research outcomes for scientists as well as meaningful teaching resource to schools at both primary and secondary levels. Schools are provided with wheat and barley seeds to grow in their local area in order to ‘catch’ local strains of the powdery mildew disease. Schools are provided with 5 seed varieties - some of which are more susceptible to the disease than others. At the end of the growing season (June - Oct), if the powdery mildew disease is present, samples are then sent to Curtin University Scientists to map the various strains of the powdery mildew disease throughout Western Australia.
Mildew Mania will be running for its 7th year in 2017. Last year over 1800 students participated, but we still need you! We need more data and samples from across the state to complete the picture, including those from your school’s location.