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Research project at Shropshire farm in final stages

Farming | Published:

It’s been a busy time at our Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm West site near Shawbury.

Bill Watts, AHDB Potatoes

Work is beginning to take shape as we enter the final year of the project at Heal Farms. Much of the research being carried out this year is having a close look at some of the big issues facing the industry in the 2019/20 season.

We have trials work on herbicides, with a specific focus on mixing aclonifen, a new entrant to the UK herbicide armoury, with other established actives. We want to know which mix is the most cost effective for weed control.

Research into desiccants has also been going ahead as part of AHDB’s national campaign, which is looking at alternatives following the loss of Diquat.

We have also teamed up with Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research to investigate the natural dormancy of a range of potato varieties. This work will provide growers with detailed information on the natural sprouting characteristics of different potato varieties.

The work will be crucial in the post CIPC chemical sprout suppressant era. We have planted 48 plots of established and new potato varieties to be assessed for sprouting. The varieties account for over 60 per cent of currently grown varieties in the UK.

Each of these subjects and more will be covered at our final Open Day at Heal Farms on Thursday, July 11.

The day comprises two sessions. The morning will look at the use of different sprayers with a demonstration of a Danfoil low water volume sprayer in comparison to the farm standard Challenger RoGator using water sensitive paper.

The afternoon will explore a range of topics including fertigation, the natural dormancy work as described, the AHDB storage network, and the desiccation and herbicide trial work as previously mentioned.

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All information can be found on our event page – ahdb.org.uk/events

We are also on the hunt for a host of my next Strategic Farm in the West Midlands.

As the current project at Heal Farms ends in April 2020, we are keen to have a new farm in place by autumn of this year.

AHDB are now looking to build on this success and work alongside somebody who is open to helping everybody in the area by putting research into practice on their own farm.

In the first instance, if you’re interested, please drop me an email: bill.watts@ahdb.org.uk

Bill Watts, AHDB Potatoes

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