Desiccation displays draw spectators at Belgium show


18 September 2023
PotatoEurope 2023 in Belgium sees increased foreign attendance.

A TOTAL of 10,089 professionals visited PotatoEurope 2023, which took place earlier this month in Kain (Tournai).

While the figure was slightly down on the last Belgium edition of the show in 2019 when attendance peaked at 10,683, the number of foreign visitors rose to 33% (25% in 2015 and 27% in 2019), representing more than 50 different countries and organisers say they are "particularly pleased" that it has attracted around 10,000 visitors at each of the last three consecutive Belgian editions. In 2015, there were 9,520 visitors, which grew to 10,683 in 2019.  

This year, there were 208 exhibitors at the event(225 in 2019) from 16 countries from different sectors within the international potato supply chain. 

Harvesting demonstrations went smoothly as, despite the dry weather on the demonstration days, rain a few days earlier had prepared a good working terrain for the harvesters. With a net harvesting area of about 20 hectares, the visitors were able to get a good idea of the 12 machines, in terms of what they can do and how they differ from one another. 

The five loading lines also generated a lot of interest. Much attention was paid to the increasingly extensive options for cleaning and sorting the product. 

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There was also a lot of interest in demonstrations of alternative haulm desiccation methods and mechanical weed control. With growers under increasing pressure to work more sustainably, realisation that other techniques are needed is increasing and they were able to see some of these techniques in action, while comparing results.

Crop yield was higher than during the previous edition, although it was less uniform across the four fields used. This was primarily because of poor weather conditions in spring during planting and the severe drought thereafter. As in 2019, Challenger and Fontane seed potatoes were used. The average yield of the 24 hectares of harvested potatoes exceeded 50 tonnes/hectare.

On the eve of the event, PotatoEurope 2023 was officially opened with a ‘Kick Off’ event at the Tournai City Hall. Around 150 guests listened to talks on the future of potato cultivation in the Euro-region, innovation in the machinery sector and the potato sector viewed through an American lens. The evening ended with a reception serving potato dishes. 

PotatoEurope was organised by Fedagrim, but the success of this edition, partnered by ILVO, CRA-W, CARAH, FIWAP, and PCA. Logistical assistance was provided by Case IH, Dezeure, ING, Lutosa, Manitou, Mydibel, Syngenta, and the city of Tournai for the extensive logistical assistance. 

The next edition of PotatoEurope will take place in Villers-Saint-Christophe, France on September 11th and 12th 2024.

Rod Woodward, the Welsh comedian whom Peter Kay describes as “a young Dave Allen" will be back to host the 2023 National Potato Industry Awards