Potato irrigation

From water management methods to research project results, our resources will help you to decide when and how to irrigate.  

Why do we irrigate?

Water is applied to potato crops to improve quality and yield. Irrigation is also important in reducing diseases such as common scab. Water should be applied throughout the season if required by dry weather conditions. 

Early-season water management

The main driver for early season irrigation in the UK has been tuber quality, and levels of tolerance for common scab in both the pre-pack and processing sectors have declined markedly. Common scab is caused by Streptomyces scabiei and other pathogenic Streptomyces species that are widely distributed in most soils.

Early season water management and common scab control

Late-season water management

Late-season water management, as the crop begins to senesce, is the essential final phase in an efficient irrigation regime.

Late-season water management in potato crops

Types of irrigation

  • Rain gun: overhead rain guns are the main method of application and are cheap and versatile.
  • Overhead Boom: this system improves uniformity of water application, especially for scab control, but use can be restricted due to topography, layout, ‘field furniture’ and soil type.
  • Drip/ Trickle: this method is more costly, but can be highly effective, applying water uniformly across large areas.
  • Sprinkler: these systems reduce the labour requirement during the season and offer improved uniformity and the ability to apply small doses frequently.
Types of irrigation for potato crops

Listen to this podcast to learn more about irrigation systems efficiency and  how to use irrigation to reduce common scab.