SPot the change at Bruce Farms

Monday, 7 October 2019

Three years ago Bruce Farms agreed to become AHDB’s first strategic potato farm in Scotland, and they embraced the project ethos – driving research into commercial practice – with gusto.

Over the years they have carried out several field-scale trials on farm, and they have shared the results with other potato growers through a series of open days, leaflets and articles.

They found ways to reduce labour and save money while increasing yields and decreasing their environmental impact. It’s been quite a ride for Potato Farms Manager Kerr Howatson.

He says: “Being a strategic farmer has been a great experience, hard work but well worth it. We proved over and over that you can reduce inputs and costs and still either maintain or increase marketable yield.

“I hope that our results will give the industry confidence to alter future farm practice.”

As the project comes to a close at the end of this year, we have taken time to look back at some of the most significant results*. It should be noted that all crops were taken through to the packhouse to judge which demo performed best at producing high quality marketable yields.

SPot Farm Results – 2016 – 2019

Reduced cultivation

Cultivation trials have been carried out every season and have consistently shown that bedtilling can be reduced, or removed, without any negative effect on yield.

Results

Nutrition

Our trials have found that nitrogen can be substantially reduced without negatively impacting yield or quality.

Results: 2017/18

Results: 2018/19

 

Seed spacing

These trials focus on seed rates to demonstrate the impact of various seed spacings on yield, tuber numbers and dry matter.

Results: 2017/18

Results: 2018/19

Senior Knowledge Exchange Manager Claire Hodge says: “Our work with Bruce Farms has been very successful and we are really grateful to the team there for all their commitment to the project over the last three years.

“We are now on the lookout for a new host, a seed potato grower, to better understand that crop, in terms of plant health, cost of production, and of course the export market which makes up a significant proportion of the sector.”

The current farm’s final year results (2019/20) will be shared at the project’s closing meeting, where you will also be able to meet our next host farmer.

The event will be held on 12 December, location TBC.

 

*Please note: Yield figures in these results should not be compared with standard commercial yields as more waste is generated due to the additional handling of field scale trials. The yield figures demonstrate which treatments performed most effectively compared to poorer performing treatments and do not reflect the likely yield the treatments would achieve on a commercial farm.