BLOG: What's in store at Strategic Potato Farm North in 2019?

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

By Amber Cottingham, Knowledge Exchange Manager for East Midlands

As we begin our second year of the programme at Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm North with our hosts; RJ & AE Godfrey it seems like the perfect time to let you know what we have going on this season.

Firstly we’ve carried over our herbicide trial work, looking at both contact and residual herbicides again for this year. Fingers crossed we actually have some weeds on the trial plot this season.

In addition, while last year’s desiccation trial was very much a reaction to the Diquat news, we’ve organised a fully replicated trial this year which will also be replicated across the strategic farm network.

Following the loss of Diquat we felt it to be a key priority to look at possible alternatives– so this year we are going to look at a range of chemical and mechanical alternatives to hopefully find a solution for growers from next season onward.

Water management

We are going back to basics by looking at irrigation techniques. After such a dry year last year we have decided to look at water management with a trial which compares trickle, boom and gun irrigation to find out which is the most efficient use of the precious water we have available. This trial will also take all of the financial elements of the various irrigation methods into account.

The irrigation field is planted with Maris Piper, a variety known for its susceptibility to scab. By assessing the three methods of irrigation we can see if there has been any impact on marketable yield and what this means for the growers in terms of their return.

Another big issue that the team have been looking to support is the imminent loss of CIPC. For this we’ve set up a dormancy trial which has seen us plant nearly 40 different varieties, which will then be assessed by the team at Sutton Bridge.

All varieties went in on the 25th of April, which proved interesting, getting 40 varieties hand planted in one day, but at least we got finished just before the rain came!

This is a trail we are running across most of our SPot Farms, and across our network we have over 60 varieis planted, covering to 70% of British production last year.

We have also been looking at organic matter, with a long term programme planned we’ll be looking at organic matter application and when is the best time to do it.

There’s a number of events coming up over the summer and it would be great to see you all there. You can find links and information below – however, if you have any questions please contact me via my e-mail on; amber.cottingham@ahdb.org.uk(link sends e-mail)

Events

  • First field walk on June 6th
  • Open day 16th July
  • Field walk 15th August
  • Field walk late August/early September (date TBC)
  • September haulm destruction demo day (date TBC) (Demonstration day mechanical desiccation as part of the new regime following Diquat)

Register for events at https://ahdb.org.uk/events