Mycotoxin Research

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 81–96 | Cite as

On-farm experiments over 5 years in a grain maize/winter wheat rotation: effect of maize residue treatments on Fusarium graminearum infection and deoxynivalenol contamination in wheat

  • Susanne Vogelgsang
  • Andreas Hecker
  • Tomke Musa
  • Brigitte Dorn
  • Hans-Rudolf Forrer
Original Paper


Over the course of 5 years, different maize residue treatments were conducted on 14 zero tillage on-farm sites in Switzerland to evaluate their effect on the development of Fusarium head blight (FHB) and the contamination with the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) in winter wheat grains and wheat straw following grain maize. Two experimental series with three and five different treatments were carried out, respectively. Fusarium graminearum (Schwabe) was the predominant FHB-causing species with an overall incidence of 15% infected wheat grains. A significant correlation between symptoms in the field, F. graminearum incidence and DON content in wheat grains and wheat straw was observed. The average DON content in both wheat grains and wheat straw was approximately 5,000 μg/kg and thus several times higher than the European maximum limit of 1,250 μg/kg for unprocessed small-grain cereals for human consumption. Of all grain samples, 74% were above the maximum limit. Pooled over both experimental series, the average reduction of DON in grains through treatments of the maize residue compared with a control treatment ranged between 21 and 38%. The effect of various other factors, including the year, the wheat variety, the site, the maize hybrid and the production system was evaluated as well. The year and the wheat variety were the most important FHB influencing factors. Over all treatments, the variety Levis showed a fivefold higher average DON content compared with the variety Titlis. From different categories of maize residue particles, intact pieces of 5–15 cm length were strongly correlated with F. graminearum incidence and DON content in grains. During the time course of this study, the recommendation from a preliminary version of the internet-based DON forecasting system FusaProg to apply or to omit a fungicide treatment was correct in 32 out of 42 cases. The results are currently being used to optimise the FusaProg models. This study has shown that in a grain maize/winter wheat rotation, the DON content in wheat grains frequently exceeded the European maximum limit, even with a thorough treatment of maize residues and less susceptible wheat varieties. Hence, in order to reduce the contamination risk in a zero tillage system, the crop rotation needs to be modified.


Cereal Corn Fusarium head blight Gibberella zeae Mycotoxin Tillage 



We thank Drs. Wolfgang Sturny and Bernhard Streit for their help in establishing initial contacts to growers conducting zero tillage. We are grateful for the invaluable help by Jakob Heusser in providing farm equipment and excellent field assistance, by Stefan Minder for converting a silage maize harvester and conducting residue treatments, and by other contractors for performing residue treatments. In particular, we would like to thank Irene Bänziger and Eveline Jenny for excellent technical assistance in the field and the laboratory, Dr. Hans-Rudolf Oberholzer for maize straw degradation trials and calculations and Urs Zihlmann for help in determining the soil types. Finally, this study would not have been possible without the various involved growers for kindly providing field sites and information on cultivation techniques.

Supplementary material

12550_2010_79_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (57 kb)
Table OR1 Example of weather conditions, which define a high (1.0) or medium (0.25) weather-based infection risk according to FusaProg (PDF 57.4 kb)
12550_2010_79_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (13 kb)
Table OR2 Effect of different maize residue treatments on the coverage of soil with maize residues measured immediately after the treatments in autumn and in the following spring (PDF 13.1 kb)
12550_2010_79_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (21 kb)
Table OR3 Effect of different maize residue treatments on the length of residue pieces and condition (spliced versus intact) (PDF 20.7 kb)
12550_2010_79_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (20 kb)
Table OR4 Soil characteristics of the on-farm trial sites between 2006 and 2008 (PDF 19.8 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society for Mycotoxin Research and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanne Vogelgsang
    • 1
  • Andreas Hecker
    • 1
  • Tomke Musa
    • 1
  • Brigitte Dorn
    • 1
  • Hans-Rudolf Forrer
    • 1
  1. 1.Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station ARTZurichSwitzerland

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