In our March/April edition Heather Briggs summarises last season’s results from AHDB’s Strategic Potato Farm programme. Among the headline topics was a comprehensive herbicide demonstration conducted by VCS (UK) Ltd on the Elveden Estate in Suffolk. Potato specialist Graham Tomalin set out to compare new herbicides against established products while also looking at phytotoxicity and varietal susceptibility. Other topics included measures to reduce run-off, irrigating to keep common scab at bay and the use of trap crops or antagonistic fungi to control potato cyst nematodes.
Creating a good seedbed: the basics
We asked Edward Gilbert, sales and marketing director at Standen Engineering Ltd, to run through the principles of potato cultivation techniques and offer advice for new operators on how to get the best out of their machinery.
The choice of implements used to prepare land for potato planting will depend on soil type and, in particular, the amount of stone or clod which needs to be removed to create the perfect ridge. The first step in the process requires little in the way of explanation. Bed formers or ridgers from Standen and other manufacturers are essentially similar in design, with a choice between either shearbolt or auto-reset construction and optional subsoiler and bed loosening tines. Where competing machines tend to differ is in the shape of the plough or ridging bodies.
‘Some potato growers like a square bed while others want a wide trough in which to bury the stone,’ Edward Gilbert observed. ‘People are often very particular about bed shape and we offer different ridging bodies to suit different soil types, as do most other manufacturers.
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