Don't save your water for later - use it now, Eric Anderson, senior agronomist at Scottish Agronomy urges potato growers.
"Tuber initiation is under way and growers with a soil water deficit of more than 25mm could experience lower yields with adverse effects on tuber size distribution if they don't irrigate now," he explains. "Growers really need to ensure efficient water uptake by maximising rooting capacity. This need has been accentuated by the unusually dry spring."
Mr Anderson will be running a workshop about water usage and the impact of soil structure damage on water uptake at the East Midlands Potato Day at QV Foods, Holbeach Hurn, Lincolnshire on July 5,
He points out the need to minimise cultivation expenses without compromising yield.
In these times of escalating fuel prices, the cost of soil structural damage is rising because crops need more irrigation if rooting is reduced. Recent studies monitoring diesel usage have shown that it takes 80 litres of diesel to pump 250 m3 of water (25mm/ha). Furthermore, bed tilling typically costs £98/ha, of which 40 per cent comprises diesel.
A farm-fuel audit and increasing efficiency of operations could easily save over ten per cent of annual fuel costs, he says.
"Before you can manage you need to measure. We are focusing our efforts on cost-benefits analysis to help growers achieve maximum possible returns from their efforts."
At the Potato Council's East Midlands Potato Day, Reuben Morris from Frontier Agriculture will examine various control programmes that help keep Alternaria at bay. In addition Frontier representatives will be discussing available defoliation options.
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