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Potatoes in Practice looks to the future of tatties

Potatoes will be at the centre of discussions at PiP2018 (c) James Hutton Inst
"One of the event’s seminar sessions is inspired by the recently launched World without Potatoes concept, a new international campaign which aims to remind consumers globally of the myriad benefits of potatoes"

The next generation of the potato industry will debate the future of the humble spud at this year’s Potatoes in Practice.

Potatoes in Practice is the largest field-based potato event in the UK, held on Thursday 9th 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.

One of the event’s seminar sessions is inspired by the recently launched World without Potatoes concept, a new international campaign which aims to remind consumers globally of the myriad benefits of potatoes.

As well as looking to improve consumption in the west, and correct some misconceptions about the nutritional benefits of potatoes, the campaign will highlight the potential potatoes have to make a real difference to our future food security. 

AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager Claire Hodge said: “While the campaign aims to get industry and consumers thinking about how awful a world without potatoes would be, at Potatoes in Practice we will focus more on what the future holds for our current varieties.”

SASA’s Kim Davies, as well as members of AHDB’s Next Generation programme – which aims to develop the future leaders of the potato industry – will discuss the future of our most popular variety Maris Piper and whether we should be holding onto it, or moving on to new varieties where flavour or green credentials are more important.

“We know we will still be eating potatoes in hundreds of years,” Claire said, “but what will be our preferred variety in 20 years? Something that delivers on flavour, or something that requires fewer chemical inputs or less water to produce? Our panel will discuss, and the audience will then vote on our future favourite potato.”

As well as the World without Potatoes seminar session there will also be a session on plant health, markets and potato advocacy.

The plant health seminar will cover some of those diseases always of concern to producers including blackleg, blight and PCN. These short, sharp talks by Hutton researchers will update attendees on the current research in each area with Matt Black updating on PCN while David Cooke and Siobhan Dancey will focus on blight and the Hutton Criteria. Roy Neilson, Bryan Griffiths (from SRUC) and Blair McKenzie will outline current research on soil health.

In the markets session, Rob Burns (AHDB) will focus on the value of the Scottish seed sector and increasing market access globally, while David Swales from the Market Intelligence team will discuss the possible future Brexit presents, and how potato growers could adapt.

Outside in the field, as always, will be the agronomy plots (21 this year) showcasing a diverse range of products and management methods.

One product on display won’t actually be available for purchase until 2021 but according to its makers fertiliser Poly4 has the potential to increase both yields and quality. Sirius Minerals have invested millions into the Woodsmith mine in Yorkshire which should provide 10 million tonnes of polyhalite (from which Poly4 is derived) annually once production begins.

Agronomist Ross Mitchell commented: "We’ve done quite a lot of trials of the product on arable crops and have found it works particularly well on potatoes both in terms of increasing yields and dry matter content.

“It’s likely down to the fact that Poly4 provides four out of the six macronutrients required by the crop; potassium, sulphur, magnesium and calcium.”

Other plots include the James Hutton Institute’s Centre for Sustainable Cropping which will be looking at biocontrol; minimising pesticide inputs by promoting the activity of native natural enemies. Agrovista will be demonstrating novel biofumigant catch crops in addition to their own range of specialist cover crops and new nutritional and chemical products.

Emerald Research Ltd and Whole Crop Marketing are demonstrating combinations of microbial and biostimulant products applied at planting on otherwise untreated seed potatoes.

Simon Fox from Emerald Research Ltd said: “We’ve developed a set of microbial products derived from beneficial UK-based soil bacteria and fungi species which support plant development. We apply these mixed with biostimulants that not only provide a food source for the bacteria, but also directly stimulate rooting and relieve environmental crop stresses.”

“Together these products create a much better soil environment conducive to plant growth, they help release plant hormones, improve rooting and soil structure and support delivery of nutrients to the crop.”

“These products have demonstrated real commercial value where we have seen farmers initially trialling them on small areas now using them across their whole potato cropping.”

The machinery demos are always at draw at Potatoes in Practice and this year will be no different with Scanstone demonstrating a Patriot Harvester and Grimme showcasing a new single row harvester custom built for the James Hutton Institute.

“We needed something bespoke because we harvest single rows on our trials plots here at the Institute.” David Young, Field Manager, said. “Grimme had built us a single row machine previously, based on their double row version, but this time we were able to sit down with the developers and input into every part of the design.

“It’s being built now so we will be using it almost for the first time in Potatoes in Practice.”

To see the harvesters at work, and everything else Potatoes in Practice has to offer, make sure you get up to the James Hutton Institute’s Balruddery Farm on Thursday 9th 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/potatoes-practice-looks-future-tatties on 16/04/24 05:28:27 AM

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.