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Fife Potato Day may help you save ££££s

1 August 2011


Money-saving strategies will be the focus of this year’s Fife Potato Day on July 19 at Over Rankeilour Farms, Westhall, Cupar, Fife.  With ever-increasing fertiliser and energy prices, many growers are feeling the pinch and will welcome the opportunity to quiz specialists on how to control costs. 
Eric Anderson, senior agronomist for Scottish Agronomy, will be running a workshop about energy usage, offering pointers where growers can minimise cultivation expenses without compromising yield. 
In these times of escalating fuel prices, the cost of soil structural damage is rising because crops need more irrigation if rooting is reduced. Recent studies monitoring diesel usage have shown that it takes 80 litres of diesel to pump 250 m3 of water (25mm/ha). Furthermore, bed tilling typically costs £80 to 140/ha, of which 35 per cent comprises diesel.  
A farm-fuel audit and increasing efficiency of operations could easily save growers over ten per cent of annual fuel costs, he says.
Dr Brian Fenton, James Hutton Institute, will also be on hand to discuss the latest findings from a AHDB Potatoes project Aphids and Virus in Seed Crops. Plots will demonstrate the potential use of oils in reducing potyvirus spread and how new information is filling the significant gaps in our understanding of the epidemiology of important potyviruses (PVY and PVA) in seed potato crops. 
Greg Dawson of Scottish Agronomy Ltd will lead discussions on new seed treatments undergoing evaluation including new penflufen formulations with previous very good activity on Black scurf Rhizoctonia solani and useful reductions on Silver scurf.
In addition, AHDB Potatoes crop nutrition specialist Gary Collins will be discussing how the new Near Infra-red Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS) scanning of manure could cut fertiliser bills. 
“This test could help growers reduce their exposure to volatile fertiliser costs by using this low-cost, effective option. Until now, relatively little organic manure has been used effectively,” says Gary.  “Rather than days, this test takes minutes. Using this technique, a next-day service would be easily achievable, which should encourage farmers to analyse and make the most of organic manures.” 
Development of the NIRS technique for use with solid or semi-solid manures has been achieved thanks to a LINK project involving several of the AHDB sectors. 
The Fife Potato Day is organised by AHDB Potatoes in conjunction with Scottish Agronomy.
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