Potato growers aim high with best practice workshop

A group of potato growers are set to hear the latest cutting-edge advice on agronomy and marketing at a breakfast meeting next week.

With potato prices under pressure, farmers need to get the most from their crops while keeping costs of production down, requiring attention to detail at every stage. “Potato yields have remained static for the past 30 years despite the development of new varieties, so growers need to do something different to make the most of that potential,” says Simon Fox, director of Emerald Crop Science.

He will be speaking at the meeting along with Ibbotsons’ James Hopwood and David Swales from AHDB Potatoes. “We always try to cover a range of topics, looking at how to enhance crops and maximise returns,” says Chris Yardley, technical director of Whole Crop Marketing, which is organising the event. “As a growers group we strive to shorten the supply chain and act as a central point of contact for both customers and farmers.”

Founded in 2008, Yorkshire-based Whole Crop Marketing trades around 130,000t of potatoes and 12,500t of seed potatoes. “It’s good to stimulate discussion between growers, to examine the market so we can grow for it, and explore ways to make potato production more sustainable,” says Mr Yardley.

Following the fatal explosion and subsequent mothballing of one of Dupont’s factories in Texas, members will also be discussing how to control nematodes this year without the key pesticide Vydate. And they will discover how to boost marketable yields by an average of 15% by adopting a more comprehensive approach to crop nutrition.

“Many soils are deficient in important trace elements required by the crop, yet farmers still only focus on the three main nutrients – nitrogen, phosphate and potash,” says Mr Fox. By taking detailed soil samples and producing a tailor-made foliar nutrient programme, OptiYield is proven to boost crop health and yields in both independent trials and commercial systems.

“A vibrant, profitable potato industry is in everyone’s interest,” he adds. “It’s important that we keep striving to improve and use scientific best practice as our foundation for the future.”

  • Journalists are welcome to attend the meeting, which will be held at JSR Farms’ offices near Southburn, Yorkshire, on 2 February from 8.30am. Please contact Chris Yardley on 07947 370413 for more information.

Editor’s notes

Emerald Crop Science was founded in 2011 with the aim of maximising farm revenues by increasing crop yields and optimising crop quality. Director Simon Fox has 35 years experience as a soil scientist, agronomist and crop nutrition specialist in the UK, Saudi Arabia, Africa, Switzerland, France and Italy. He is currently pursuing a PhD in biochemistry, has a BSc in soil science, a Masters degree in computer science and is a chartered IT professional (CITP).

OptiYield is a web-based nutrient availability modelling and crop nutrition system that conforms to the fertiliser regulations of multiple regions and countries. It currently covers 30+ crops including wheat, oilseed rape, potatoes, sugar beet, crucifers, legumes, brassicae and alliums, as well as sub-tropical crops such as sugarcane, bananas and tea.

The OptiYield system is the result of distilling 2,000+ formal research papers, manuals and related documents, combined with trials data, previous knowledge and input from research and systems developed over the past 35 years.

It is backed up by ECS’s unique range of formulated foliar feeds, bio-stimulants and bio-active products to provide detailed, complete and tailored crop optimisation programmes.

For more information contact Simon Fox on 01242 506206.