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The Need for Spatial Analysis in Mycotoxin studies

Authors: Ruth Kerry*, Brigham Young University, Ben Ingram, Universidad Talca, Brenda Ortiz, Auburn University, Eshter Garcia-Cela, Cranfield University
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Environmental Science
Keywords: Mycotoxins, spatial analysis, climate change, food supply, agriculture
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Mycotoxins are produced by fungi that can contaminate staple crops. Legislative limits exist for the levels allowed in grain for human/animal consumption because they can cause serious health problems. Mycotoxins are measured post-harvest in stored grain. Crops are accepted or rejected based on average concentrations in grain with no consideration of spatial variability. Factors influencing concentrations have been well-investigated, but there are few studies of spatial variation. Case studies are used to illustrate the need for spatial analysis of mycotoxins at different scales. Insights from spatial analysis will be discussed.
Some mycotoxins develop in field whereas others develop in storage. The collocation of clusters of both types of toxin in stored grain and the smaller size of clusters for those developing in storage suggest their development from foci of toxins that develop in the field. 3D analysis of stored grain shows greater contamination towards the base and outer-surface of the grain pile in moister more aerophillic locations. Aflatoxin variation within fields showed that risk at this scale is associated with soil type and topography. Different risk zones can be managed, harvested and stored separately to reduce wasted grain. Aflatoxin contamination risk of different counties is associated with maximum temperatures above, and precipitation levels below, 30-year normals. Future climate change scenarios suggest increased risk of aflatoxin contamination and the need for more irrigation, planting of resistant varieties, shifts in zones where corn is grown, or shifts in growing season scheduling.

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