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Future of chemistry focus at Potatoes in Practice

Potatoes will be at the centre of discussions at PiP2019 (c) James Hutton Inst
"Potatoes in Practice is the largest field-based potato event in the UK, organised and hosted by the James Hutton Institute in partnership with AHDB Potatoes, SRUC and Agrii and is also supported by Potato Review"

As the potato industry faces up to the loss of major chemicals, diquat for definite with CIPC likely to follow, this year’s Potatoes in Practice will focus on what growers will be using in the future.

Potatoes in Practice is the largest field-based potato event in the UK, held on Thursday 8 August at Balruddery Farm, Invergowrie, near Dundee. The event is organised and hosted by the James Hutton Institute in partnership with AHDB Potatoes, SRUC (Scotland's Rural College) and Agrii and is also supported by Potato Review.

The loss of diquat will be a major discussion point at the event; a number of plots will demonstrate alternative desiccation methods, and at a seminar devoted to chemical use Greg Dawson of Scottish Agronomy will discuss current trials looking at alternative haulm destruction methods for high grade seed crops.

He says: “The loss of diquat is a real problem for the industry, for all varieties, but particularly for those indeterminate varieties with vigorous canopies. We need new products or methods that promote rapid haulm kill to reduce the potential for disease developing in store.

“Currently there are no chemical treatments which are as effective as diquat at killing off the mature leaf, potential alternatives such Gozai (Pyraflufen-ethyl) and Spotlight Plus (Carfentrazone-ethyl) are mainly used for stem destruction.”

At the event Greg will discuss current trials looking at burndown alternatives, including those taking place on AHDB’s Strategic Farm network, and a separate site which Scottish Agronomy is overseeing focused on seed potatoes.

“We know that in future we will need a multi-pronged system for successful burndown,” Greg explains. “Our site is looking both at alternative chemical methods, as well as mechanical possibilities including flailing and root under cutting.

“Root under cutting is interesting, but challenging. It involves literally cutting the roots below tuber level, which might prove difficult in Scotland particularly where we have a lot of slopes and stony soils, not to mention the impact of wet weather.”

Also covering desiccation will be Russell Whiteford of Belchim Crop Protection, who will run a workshop on the subject at a brand new early evening session (accompanied by a hog roast!).

Russell will review current practice and the likely options post-diquat focusing on flail and non-flail options and the difficulties growers may face if flail/spray is not an option.

He says: “I’ll be suggesting that a more holistic view of crop agronomy with regard to desiccation will be vital without diquat. This particularly relates to crop nutrition, field fertility, crop vigour and variety.”

Out in the field there will also be plenty of desiccation-related demos with many plots dedicated to how to destroy haulm without diquat, and two machinery demos will also be showcasing kit currently available for mechanical desiccation.

David Young of the James Hutton Institute explains: “This year both Grimme and Agricar are demonstrating their three-bed potato toppers.

“Without diquat there’s likely to be a growing demand for machinery able to flail the crop when it is still green, whether that is farmers investing in toppers, or contractors expanding their businesses.”

Another challenge for growers, this time post-harvest, is the likely loss of CIPC, something that will be covered by AHDB’s Adrian Cunnington during the seminar sessions.

AHDB has been carrying out trials on potential replacements for CIPC, which have so far found that mixtures of products such as DNM and maleic hydrazide, are the most effective in suppressing sprouting in store. However, no combination is as effective as CIPC and at Potatoes in Practice Adrian is keen to focus on practical strategies that will help growers maintain quality.

He says: “Not only do we need effective replacements for CIPC, but we also need to get stores running more efficiently. To make sure these alternatives work we will need much tighter control of conditions, potentially with changes to temperatures, and as well as research the alternatives there are also a number of other ways we aim to support the industry through this including free one-one meetings with advisors across GB.”

As well as updating growers on the situation with CIPC, Adrian will also reveal the latest regulations around one potential replacement, maleic hydrazide. There have already been label changes restricting its use and further changes could be in the pipeline.

The other two seminar sessions will focus on potato health and marketing. Professor Derek Stewart of the James Hutton Institute will outline some of the newest evidence on the spud’s impact on human health while Professor Ian Toth will hone in on the health of the crop itself, chairing a session which encompasses PCN, new threats in pests and diseases (with Chief Plant Health Officer for Scotland Gerry Saddler) and potential changes to the Safe Haven Scheme.

There will be a huge amount for growers to see in the field at this year’s event, including the usual demonstration plots (32 in total), and the machinery demos.

As well as desiccation, plots will also feature breeding technologies, biostimulants, crop protection, and of course, new varieties. As usual, there are many recognisable names showcasing exclusive varieties and crop protection trials including Caithness Potatoes, Greenvale, Cygnet PB, Branston, Bayer Crop Science, James Hutton Ltd and Emerald Research Ltd, to name but a few.

To check out the plots, and everything else Potatoes in Practice has to offer, make sure you get up to the James Hutton Institute’s Balruddery Farm on Thursday 8 August.

Press and media enquiries: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

Printed from /news/future-chemistry-focus-potatoes-practice on 25/02/24 11:56:52 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.