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Expanding growers' choice of plant disease management options can promote suboptimal social outcomes.

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Murray-Watson, Rachel E  ORCID logo


Previous models of growers' decision-making during epidemics have unrealistically limited disease management choices to just two options. Here, we expand previous game-theoretic models of grower decision-making to include three control options: a crop that is tolerant, resistant or susceptible to disease. Using tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) as a case study, we investigate how growers can be incentivized to use different control options to achieve socially optimal outcomes. To do this, we consider the efforts of a 'social planner' who moderates the price of crops. We find that subsidizing a tolerant crop costs the social planner more in subsidies, as its use encourages selfishness and widespread adoption. Subsidizing a resistant crop, however, provides widespread benefits by reducing the prevalence of disease across the community of growers, including those that do not control, reducing the number of subsidies required from the social planner. We then use Gini coefficients to measure equitability of each subsidization scheme. This study highlights how grower behaviour can be altered using crop subsidies to promote socially optimal outcomes during epidemics.


Funder: University of Cambridge; Id:


Gini coefficient, Pareto optimization, behavioural model, epidemiological model, tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV)

Journal Title

Plant Pathol

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Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (2119272)