This year's Potatoes in Practice event, hosted by the UK's Potato Council, has been heralded as a great success, attracting record numbers of visitors, exhibitors and boasting a wide range of field demonstrations and trials.
A total of 760 people (up from 700) attended from across the industry, and the number of exhibitors showed a 33% increase on 2010, illustrating the importance of this industry event.
Many of the visitors were UK-based; however the reputation of the event is now such that growers travelled from as far away as Iceland and even Australia.
Mike Cumming, a leading Angus seed grower, said; "Potatoes in Practice is a ‘must attend' event for me. The field demonstrations and trials give me the opportunity to actually see the impact of best practice advice and scientific developments in the industry. This year's PiP again proved it has something for everyone who has a concern in potato growing and production."
Potatoes in Practice 2011 continued the event's tradition of providing practical advice for attendees by hosting a number of trials and demonstrations, including those aimed at mechanical and chemical control methods. These included three Potato Council-sponsored trials, conducted by SAC:
· Control of potato volunteers
· Implications of cultivar blight resistance rating changes
· Seed treatment efficacy
In addition to the field activities, the event included a range of presentations from high profile speakers who covered key issues affecting today's industry and future development. Dr. John Kerr from SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture) outlined the impact the PCN Directive has had on the industry, while Dr Gerry Saddler examined the vital role that growers can play in minimising risks to plant health.
The day also saw Mark Prentice, head of seed and export at the Potato Council, partner with SASA's Export Liaison Officer Robert Burns to highlight how growing demand for Scottish seed is being addressed, and what issues may arise in the future. One of the key points raised by Mark was the excellent growth of Scottish seed potato exports over the last year, which showed a year-on-year increase of 12%, pushing total seed exports (EU and non-EU) through the hundred thousand tonnes mark (101,030t) for the first time.
Allan Stevenson, Chairman of the Potato Council and member of the governing body of the James Hutton Institute, highlighted the importance of this event to the industry during his welcome address.
He said: "Potatoes in Practice provides a vital opportunity to bring together levy payers, Government representatives, industry research, and variety development all on one field. We have seen more exhibitors than ever this year, which is a really positive sign and highlights the high value they see in attending this event. We are already looking forward to next year's event and hope that we see many of those who attended Potatoes in Practice at the forthcoming British Potato event in Harrogate."