Investing your potato levy to prevent crop loss

Our most basic function as a levy board is to provide a safety net for the industry.

Alex Wade is AHDB Potatoes knowledge exchange manager, Wales, West Midlands and South West
Alex Wade is AHDB Potatoes knowledge exchange manager, Wales, West Midlands and South West

Much of our work goes unseen, but is vital to how your crop is protected.

A good example is the work we fund on strains, or genotypes, of diseases like blight. We fund the monitoring and research that allows growers, agronomists and crop protection companies to know the characteristics of blight populations each year.

In a normal year this means little tweaks to blight programmes – in a "bad" year, if agronomists do not make wholesale changes, then growers risk losing their entire crop.

In 2018 new strains of blight that were insensitive to Fluazinam were found. In the previous year Fluazinam had been used to treat around half the British crop. The message got out and this figure dropped to less than 10 per cent in 2018. If it hadn't, then huge areas of crop would have been unprotected and at high risk.

John Sarup, SPUD Agronomy & Consultancy Ltd, said: “The in-season genotyping from Fight Against Blight allows me to make well-informed decisions regarding what actives to use and when.”

Alex Wade is AHDB Potatoes knowledge exchange manager, Wales, West Midlands and South West

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