How your levy funds potato agronomy and crop protection
Helping British potato growers to grow.
£2.3m of levy funding on average for each of the last three years has supported the technical programmes that help you grow potatoes, focussed on
- pest and disease management
- crop nutrition
- soil management
As well as being accessible to all levy payers, the results of our research programmes act as a platform for product or situation specific work by others. Our work is also accessed by a large proportion of agronomists, with over 100 attending the potato sessions of our annual agronomists conference and 3,000 FACTS Qualified Advisers using RB209 to create nutrient management plans each year.
We also have a team dedicated to making emergency use applications. AHDB apply for 70% of applications in the potato and horticultural sectors, using results of our independent research to provide the vital evidence that there are no viable alternatives to the chemical in question.
Strategic Potato Farms - improving productivity, costs or profitability for 92% of attendees
We have provided over 60 regional and digital potato focussed Farm Excellence events over the last three years, where 94% of levy payers say they improved their technical knowledge and 86% picked up something to improve productivity or efficiency. Highlights include:
- Trials and demonstrations have taken place on alternatives to linuron and diquat, PCN control, nutrition, irrigation, cultivations and more
- Since 2018 we have delivered annual field trials on desiccation, providing clear guidance on haulm destruction without diquat
- Through our programmes one grower was able to count £65 per hectare of savings while increasing marketable yield
We have also helped growers avoid waste when switching to new programmes after losing actives by researching, modelling, costing and demonstrating the most efficient use of alternatives.
Trials and demonstrations have continued safely throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, with circa 1,500 attending live digital events, and a further 2,000+ views of event recordings:
Whether it is blight, PCN or aphids and virus, you’ll find regular updates on pest and disease pressure through the summer supported by the latest thinking in management and control options. Including:
- PCN tolerance has now been listed across 20 varieties and dormancy ranking established for 70% of area grown
- The levy funds essential national aphid monitoring and forecasting tools, and updated best practice as part of the National Aphid and Virus Forum plan
- The levy funds Blightwatch, Fight Against Blight and British involvement in the Euro blight programme
The fight continues, and last year we agreed to fund blight strain results in-season so that you know what you're dealing with in real-time.
*Average spend over the last three years.
Case study: Fight Against Blight
In 2018 early warnings of aggressive and resistant strains EU_37 and EU_36 in Kent, Shropshire and Yorkshire meant agronomists across the country were able to adjust product choice and spray routines – potentially saving several ha. of crop.
A nutrient management programme powered by our RB209 research and guidance will save growers money, improve yield quality and quantity, and protect the environment.
Case study: Nutrient management, SPot Scotland 2017-19
"Our nutrition trials have shown that we can cut our nitrogen use in our Maris Piper crops. By reducing the amount of nitrogen, we have gained better crops, maintained yield and pack and saved money.”
Kerr Howatson, Bruce Farms, Perthshire
The new targeted approach, moving away from whole field treatments, is now embedded in standard farm practice at the Perthshire farm, saving £31 per hectare on fertiliser (nitrogen)
GREATsoils: The foundation for better yields
After two very wet winters, growers are coming under increasing pressure to look after their soil, and the fields of their landlords. In October we started a series of events aimed at this challenge with the webinar - 'Potato soil health - why bother?'.
We are supporting British farming and growing to get the very best out of its soils, and through the GREATSoils initiative we are delivering:
- A partnership with 27 organisations
- Partners provide additional co-funding of £700,000
- 175 AHDB events since July 2016
- 92 trials carried out by farmers as part of the Grower Platform
- 150 fields have trialled AHDB's new Soil Health Score Card
- £5.4m nationally funded programme with contributions from several sector levys
The practical benefits of cover crops were demonstrated at SPot Farm South West Dillington (2018) which showed that an overwinter cover crop (fodder radish) reduced the fuel usage of both initial cultivations compared with no cover crop by 12.3-13.2l/ha and increased the work rate by 0.39-3.35ha/hr. These improvements were also demonstrated in the secondary cultivations (bed tilling), where the fuel saving was approximately 50l/ha.