Potato irrigation

From water management methods to research project results, our resources will help you to decide when and how to irrigate.  

Read research reports on water use, including management of common scab and bruising


Water is applied to potato crops to improve quality and yield. Irrigation is also important for the management of common scab. 

Early-season water management

The main driver for early season irrigation in the UK has been tuber quality, and levels of tolerance for common scab in both the pre-pack and processing sectors have declined markedly. Common scab is caused by Streptomyces scabiei and other pathogenic Streptomyces species that are widely distributed in most soils.

Early season water management and common scab control

Late-season water management

Late-season water management, as the crop begins to senesce, requires different factors to be considered.

Late-season water management in potato crops

Types of irrigation

  • Rain gun: overhead rain guns are the main method of application and are cheap and versatile.
  • Overhead Boom: this system improves uniformity of water application, especially for scab control, but use can be restricted due to topography, layout, ‘field furniture’ and soil type.
  • Drip/ Trickle: this method is more costly, but can be highly effective, applying water uniformly across large areas.
  • Sprinkler: these systems reduce the labour requirement during the season and offer improved uniformity and the ability to apply small doses frequently.

Listen to this podcast (recorded June 2020) to learn more about irrigation systems efficiency and  how to use irrigation to reduce common scab.

SPot farm irrigation trials videos

Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm East Nitrogen and Irrigation Demonstration 2017 Elveden Farms

Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm East Reducing Run off Demonstration 2017 Elveden Farms

Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm East Common Scab Demonstration 2017 Elveden Farms


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