2014-07-08   facebook twitter rss

Potatoes in Practice Grows for Growers

With up to 1,000 industry visitors expected, Potatoes in Practice (PiP), sponsored by Potato Council and supported by Potato Review magazine, is the UK’s largest technical field event for the potato industry.

Potatoes in Practice provides key topical technical content to hundreds of growers and industry, this year it will be held on Thursday 7 August, at the James Hutton Institute’s Balruddery Farm, Invergowrie, near Dundee.

Potatoes in Practice 2013

Potatoes in Practice 2013

PiP, organised and hosted by the James Hutton Institute, is held in association with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and Agrii. The event offers the anticipated high-standard mix of science, technology and practical advice. The packed one-day programme takes the form of agronomy and variety trial plots with guided tours, a technical seminar programme, research and trade stands, static and working machinery displays and – another first for PiP – harvesting clinics.

Industry visitors travel from far and wide to come to PiP. Michael Bubb, a Shropshire grower who also sits on Potato Council’s Research and Knowledge Transfer Committee, remarks “Going to PiP is a really worthwhile trip for me. I meet a lot of people and catch up with the news in the industry and see for myself what Potato Council does for growers through investment of levy in key research and knowledge transfer activities.’’

This year the Potato Council-sponsored field plots and demonstrations, coordinated by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), will look at several important topics. A cultivation plot will demonstrate the implications of strong and weak rooting systems of differing varieties. An off-site blight demonstration trial is being planned, to be shown on-site via video with supporting talks and info boards. A field plot will demonstrate the effects of mineral oils on aphid control, using aphid traps to demonstrate the differences between treated and untreated crops. Plus, common scab will be examined, using replicated trials to show the effects of different treatments.

Further trials and demos will look at foliar and crop nutrition, high-grade seed production, seed tuber treatments and bio-controls. Growers can see current and new varieties and talk to breeders.

Protecting crop quality at harvest

Crop damage at harvest costs industry around £200/hectare every year. Potato Council has developed new harvesting clinics for PiP. Visitors will hear from leading machinery manufacturers and experts in growing, harvesting and grading and there’ll be scheduled talks from Greenvale, Tong Peal, Grimme and Standon Pearson. This gives delegates the opportunity to examine equipment, discuss planting and look at machinery settings and maintenance.

A big draw last year, the live machinery demos will be held again. Euan Caldwell, James Hutton Institute’s farm manager, has been instrumental in preparing the site and developing the working machinery demos. Euan says “We’ll see Agricar working a Grimme GB215 mounted belt potato planter, which allows growers to plant a variation of different sized potatoes in a two or three row bed formation and gives enhanced output speeds. Alan MacKay Machinery will be demonstrating the Tillerstar. Grimme UK will demonstrate their all-new SV260 offset two-row harvester with 5.8 tonne bunker. Also RGD Forfar will be demonstrating a Scanstone windrower and Dewulf self-propelled harvester. There will be a lot to see, working live on the site.”

PCN, slugs and aphids

PiP seminars form a key part of the technical programme, with three practical topics being discussed this year.

With PCN an increasing concern, costing industry £14m a year in treatment, Dr Jon Pickup from SASA, will look at the challenges that PCN presents to seed and ware growers and how land management and best practice can help.

After a mild winter and fears that aphid populations could be on the increase this year, Dr Brian Fenton of the James Hutton Institute will give a seasonal update and examine the impacts of aphids as virus vectors. He will update visitors on the levy-funded R&D work underway to help us understand more about how aphids can be monitored and controlled.

Dr Andy Evans of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) will talk about slug control, giving a seasonal update on slug populations. Andy will emphasise best practice and look at timing, precision in treatment applications, post-harvest actions and slug species.

Robert Burns, Potato Council’s head of seed and export says “PiP has a track record of providing growers and industry with the latest science and technical advice, with around 900 attendees last year. It’s a very wide-ranging field day and there’s something there for everybody, from agronomists to students to researchers and farmers alike. I’d encourage everybody to come along.”

Potato Council

   
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