A general and flexible model was developed to simulate progress over time of the epidemics caused by a generic polycyclic pathogen on aerial plant parts. The model includes all of the epidemiological parameters involved in the pathogen life cycle: between-season survival, production of primary inoculum, occurrence of primary infections, production and dispersal of secondary inoculum both inside and outside the crop, and concatenation of secondary infection cycles during the host’s growing season. The model was designed to include the effect of the main crop management actions that affect disease levels in the crop. Policy-oriented, strategic, and tactical actions were considered at the different levels of complexity (from the agro-ecosystem to the farming and cropping system). All effects due to disease management actions were translated into variations in the epidemiological components of the model, and the model quantitatively simulates the effect of these actions on epidemic development, expressed as changes in final disease and in the area under the disease progress curve. The model can help researchers, students and policy makers understand how management decisions (especially those commonly recommended as part of Integrated Pest Management programs) will affect plant disease epidemics at different scales of complexity.
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