Prevention can only reduce, not eliminate, the risk of mycotoxin contamination. This is due to the impact of climatic conditions on the presence of mycotoxins, which cannot be influenced by human beings.1 However, there are some ways to maximize plant performance and reduce stress to substantially decrease mycotoxin contamination. These include good agricultural practice (GAP), which is the precondition to minimizing the contamination of grains with mycotoxins; implementation of good manufacturing practice (GMP) during the handling, storage, processing and distribution of cereals.1,2 Solutions to reduce and minimize mycotoxin contamination are divided into pre-, during and post-harvest (Table 1).
|Pre-harvest control||Harvest and post-harvest control|
|Breeding||Appropriate harvest time|
|Sowing time||Appropriate harvest equipment|
|Irrigation||Humidity level before and during storage|
|Proper crop rotation||Temperature during storage|
|Tillage||Appropriate harvest time|
|Adequate fertilization||Appropriate harvest equipment|
|Weed control||Use of fungicides and mycotoxin deactivating products|
Cropping systems where maize is rotated with wheat or wheat is grown each year in the same field, appear to increase the disease epidemic. Therefore, without crop rotation there is a greater risk of mycotoxin infection.
Multi-field crop rotation with rape, sugar beet, sunflower or soybeans reduces the appearance of mycotoxin infection.1,2 For example, Schaafsma et al. (2001) observed that planting crops other than wheat two years before growing wheat in a particular field significantly decreased the level of Deoxyniyalenol (DON) in the year the wheat was grown.5
The mechanical, insect or bird damage of grains provides a good opportunity for fungal infection and damage, thus their prevention is of major importance. In the first year plants get infected with fungal spores, and these can colonize other plants and also settle on the soil. After harvest the maize stubble remains in the soil and can be colonized by fungi. If maize is grown in the same field the following year, it can be further contaminated.2
The procedures described above will only help to reduce, but not eliminate, the issue of mycotoxin contamination; hence, it is crucial to adopt valid detoxification strategies to deactivate mycotoxins directly. These are divided into four categories: physical and chemical methods, adsorption and biological methods (biotransformation).2