Top tips for improving yield shared at final SPot open day

Monday, 1 July 2019

The final Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm Open Day hosted by Bruce Farms will highlight simple practical changes growers can make to improve their margins.

Farmers and industry attending the event, held at Strathisla Farms on 9 July, will be able to view the final year trial plots which are focused on cultivation depths, nutrition and seed spacing.

However, as the project is now in its final year, the team have also created a 'golden plot' which pulls together all the most effective treatments, which should have the highest yield, with the lowest input costs.

Host farmer, Potato Farm Manager for Bruce Farms, Kerr Howatson, explains: "Whenwe got involved in this project back in 2016 we wanted to trial ways to reduce costs and improve yields and then to share those golden nuggets with the wider industry.

"I believe we have achieved that, and our golden plot brings all those things together in what should be our best performing trial."

At the event there will also be expert speakers covering nutrition, new blight strains and crop markets, while in the field, as while as checking out the golden plot, attendees will hear more about irrigation and details of the precision monitoring work which has been led by Soil Essentials this season.

Claire Hodge, AHDB Senior Knowledge Exchange Manager, says: "One of the big areas of focus in terms of precision has been measuring soil moisture for irrigation planning. Bruce Farms currently have two systems, one which takes weekly readings, and another which continuously updates the levels.

"However, Soil Essentials have also been trialing a system which can measure the moisture via a satellite, which could be a cheaper and simpler system for growers to use, if it proves effective."

For Kerr, such systems can be very useful, however he believes that some areas of precision technology have not yet proved their worth.

"The industry really needs to feel confident that the data provided is accurate, and that it can then be used to improve your management on farm. For some tools, like those measuring soil moisture, that is the case, but in other areas, variable rate planting for instance, I would argue that much of the industry remains to be convinced that it is worthwhile," he says.

The event will be run twice over the day so growers can attend either the morning, or the afternoon, session. For further information and details on how register for the SPot Scotland Open Day on 9 July can be found on the AHDB website.