Getting the best of blight

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

How Eurofins use AHDB tools and services to deliver quality research for the potato industry

Late blight remains the single most important potato disease, costing the industry an estimated £50m annually in crop protection chemicals in a typical blight pressure season. Supporting the industry to help prevent and control this disease is one of our key priorities at AHDB Potatoes, through our and Fight Against Blight services.

We work with leading specialists to invest your levy in applied research to improve our understanding of the disease. But our guides, resources and monitoring systems not only help advise individual growers about disease risk and control options, our work also in turn supports the research industry to further develop and innovate crop protection solutions. 

We spoke to Meg Edmonds, Eurofins Agroscience Services Ltd, about how the information from AHDB helps them to provide a high-quality service for plant protection manufactures and the wider potato industry, with direct benefit for levy payers.

Fight Against Blight

“We currently host the largest late blight platform trials site in the UK, providing an annual demonstration for a range of industry partners. In 2020, we established a new trial on the susceptibility of potato varieties for AHDB. We hope to expand and develop this project further in 2021.

“Data from all of our clients’ trials on this site, and our other platform sites in Lancashire, Ireland and further afield in Europe, provide useful insights into seasonal blight trends. This then helps us test the key actives for blight control under ‘worst-case scenario’ conditions. We can then help our industry partners feed into Fight Against Blight, where blight alerts have been reported by AHDB for more than 10 years.

Informing innovation

“When we’re establishing new platform trial sites around the UK, the information from AHDB research projects, such as varietal susceptibility, plays a big role in our discussions.

“The Hutton Criteria* ensures we can replicate the conditions most favourable to the disease, by managing the irrigation programmes to complement the weather conditions. Monitoring the Hutton Criteria on site is also useful for helping us to interpret trends in our trial data.

“Colleagues across all our platform sites also subscribe to the Blightwatch service. We use this early on to ensure we are able to plan our plant protection applications proactively. 

“We also use the agronomy and technical resources from AHDB research, including storage and handling of seed potatoes and post-harvest storage, to help with the management of other potato platforms and trials.

“These AHDB-funded projects ensure that we are constantly up to date with the ever-changing dynamics of potato production and late blight management. This guarantees our complete understanding of the challenges faced by the industry – we can produce high-quality trials and reliable supportive data to our customers.”  

*The Hutton Criteria

The Hutton Criteria was developed from AHDB-funded research and undertaken by James Hutton Institute. It occurs when there are two consecutive days with a minimum temperature of 10°C and at least six hours of relative humidity (90%).