05 December 2018
SPot season ends on a high note
The 2018 open day of AHDB’s Strategic Potato Farm programme, took place at Somerby Top, near Brigg in Lincolnshire, marking the last in the season of what have been popular events according to Anne Stone of AHDB Potatoes.
Dr Stone said farm walks and open days have proved popular, along with ‘private viewings’ organised for groups of growers or other stakeholders. “One of the benefits of going round in a group, is that the members all have something in common so they tend to be more open to asking questions.” This is a logical reflection of the commercial world that growers are in, she said.
The aim of the SPot Farm Programme, launched two years ago, is to provide a platform for growers and agronomists which will help them make positive changes on their holdings. The choice of demonstration topics depends on local challenges and what the hosts believe will be of use to them, as well as providing an opportunity to canvass the views of others, including their customers.
“One of the most important aspects of the programme is that growers are able to see demonstration plots on commercial farms but it’s also important that there should be synergy with other research that AHDB is undertaking,” added Dr Stone.
Senior knowledge exchange manager at AHDB, Graham Bannister, said a lot of useful knowledge was gained in 2018 despite a difficult growing season. “For example, we were able to react quickly to conditions and turned what was originally a herbicide demonstration into a desiccant trial, looking at the various alternatives to diquat,” he said.
Previous work has helped provide growers with information on how to cope with an extreme season and has fed into the AHDB ‘drought hub’ which was designed to keep them up to date with changes likely to impact on the sector, including environmental concerns about water use.
‘Next year we will be looking at irrigation methods, comparing trickle, boom and guns,’ Mr Bannister added. ‘This will reinforce our work and demonstrate to the authorities what we are doing to help growers protect the environment, but we also emphasise the importance of finance, yield and quality to growers and the supply chain. All demonstration plots are placed in a real-farm situation so growers can take away practical messages about what can be done on their own farms.”