Scientific evidence of sustainable plant disease protection strategies for oats in Sweden: a systematic map


Oat (Avena sativa L.) is an important cereal crop for livestock feed and human consumption. The largest oat-producing countries are located in the Northern Hemisphere with Sweden as the tenth largest producer. Oat production is challenged by different diseases that can lead to significant yield reductions and impaired grain quality. The use of efficient and sustainable plant protection management is of great economic and ecological importance. The systematic map in this study aims to provide a knowledge base inventory and to identify areas that need to be researched in the future in terms of plant disease management for more sustainable oat production.


Literature searches were conducted in both academic bibliographic databases and relevant online sources of grey literature. A time-span restriction of 40 years (1978–2018) was applied to the searches. English was used in all searches, and Swedish, Norwegian and Danish languages were used in the grey literature searches. The screening process, which followed a protocol with eligibility criteria, was conducted at three levels: title, abstract and full text. Metadata incorporating bibliographic information, study location, climatic zone, disease name, the common and scientific names of the disease-causing organism, pathogen type, intervention and management methods, diseased plant part, plant stage, and outcome were extracted from the studies and included in the systematic map. The systematic map findings are visualized in figures and tables and described. All included studies can be found in a searchable database.

Review findings

A total of 58 eligible articles, most (n = 51) from scientific journals published in English, were included in the systematic map. A majority of the studies were conducted in the Northern Hemisphere in temperate climatic zones, where most of the world’s oats are produced. The earliest article was published in 1980, followed by an oscillating temporal distribution of articles over the following years. By country, Canada had the highest number of articles, and by region, Europe had the highest number. Fungi were the most studied pathogen type, and a total of 16 different diseases were reported. Fusarium head blight (Fusarium spp.) and crown rust (Puccinia coronata) were the most studied diseases. In total, 17 different intervention management approaches for controlling the diseases were analyzed in the articles, with cultivar resistance and pesticide application as the most studied methods.


The map highlights the low quantity of available relevant field research on oat disease management. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic map of crop protection. This map provides a database of scientific literature that can be used to develop sustainable disease management strategies. The method used in this study has great potential and can also be used to benefit other crops. Research is often based on the availability of funding, and this map could be a useful tool for researchers and funding organizations to identify relevant research topics that need to be further studied. In addition, this systematic map offers a useful tool for field-based advisors in providing scientifically relevant crop protection strategies for farmers.


Avena sativa, Oats, Disease control, Crop management, Pathogen


Efficient and sustainable plant protection is of great economic and ecological significance for global crop production. A number of challenges, e.g. climate change, population growth and global trade, put increasing demands on future crop production and crop protection. This necessitates an increase in crop productivity with less environmental impact while maintaining good food quality and food security. To meet these challenges, it is essential that the recommendations provided to growers are efficient and correct, which can only be ensured by evidence-based  recommendations based on outcomes from scientific studies.

Methods and output

The aim of these systematic maps is to compile scientific evidence for different plant disease protection strategies for the main arable crops grown in Sweden. Six major crops (wheat, barley, oat, potato, sugar beet and oilseed rape) have been selected based on the area under production, the annual production, the economic importance, and the amount of pesticide used against diseases in these crops in Sweden. All methods to manage diseases will be considered, including cropping system, pesticide application, biological control methods, as well as combinations of methods and integrated pest management. These systematic maps will only deal with field studies of relevance for agricultural practices in Sweden, although we expect that the results will be applicable for northern Europe as a whole. The main outcome to be used will be productivity measured as yield per area. Plant health and pathogen reduction will be included as a proxy for potential increase in crop quality and yield. This will provide a systematic overview of the plant disease protection measures that have been reported in the scientific literature. The study will result in one searchable database per crop that may be used as a catalogue of evidence for researchers and stakeholders, especially authorities and advisory organizations. The systematic maps will aid in the identification of areas that need further research and guide funding agencies and policymakers when deciding where research resources should be allocated. It will also help to select topics for future systematic reviews and meta-studies within the field of plant protection.