Monday, April 22, 2019

Scientists investigate alternatives to diquat

April 1, 2019 by  
Filed under Crops

Researchers are investigating alternative desiccation methods following loss of approval for diquat – the main product used by potato growers to dessicate crops.

Loss of approval for diquat has wide ramifications for the sector, says the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), which invited researchers to tender for a new project to understand the alternatives.

AHDB crop protection senior scientist Joe Martin said: “This research will be closely aligned with our knowledge exchange programme and trials will be carried out across our Strategic Potato (SPot) farm network.”

The AHDB invited tenders for scientific coordination and trial implementation at a number of the levy board’s sites. The topic was introduced at SPot Farm North in 2018, where Graham Tomalin of VCS Agronomy carried out work at Somerby Top Farm in Brigg, North Lincolnshire.

The demonstration included 13 treatments – including two flail treatments – applied to 26 varieties of potato. These plots attracted avid interest at SPot North events over the 2018 season and similar work will continue this year.

Fully replicated experiments will involve treatments applied in challenging situations, such as the early desiccation of a seed crop of the indeterminate variety Markies. Assessments will tease out the effect of different treatments on time to skin set, disease occurrence and passive bulking.

The AHDB’s research and knowledge exchange committee is chaired by Alistair Redpath, chief executive for Cygnet Potato Breeders. He described the research into diquat alternatives as a welcome move for the potato industry.

“The loss of diquat has had a major impact on both seed and ware growers, and with this research we can now hope to learn more about available desiccants and optimal burn-down strategies and keep producing good quality potatoes.”

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