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Glyphosate and seed potatoes

29 June 2015

Glyphosate is a non-selective weed-killer which is incredibly damaging to seed potatoes. Even at levels which cannot be detected it can cause horrendous problems with germination and emergence in the daughter crop. Often unnoticed until the seed crop has been replanted, contamination causes lengthy and costly commercial disputes. 

Damage is rarely seen in the crop that receives the accidental dose. The problem arises in the daughter crop and may not be spotted until after it has been planted, which can lead to very expensive legal claims and dissatisfied customers.
Sophie Lock at AHDB Potatoes says “The most common cause of glyphosate contamination is spray drift, usually from a neighbouring oilseed rape or cereal receiving a pre-harvest spray. Typical spray drift effects can reduce emergence to just 25-30% of normal,” says Sophie. “In severe cases it can be as low as 5%.”
To help protect British seed potatoes, AHDB Potatoes works with HGCA and other stakeholders to raise awareness of the vulnerability of seed potatoes to glyphosate exposure, focusing on awareness of seed potatoes in the vicinity when spraying and the implementation of preventative measures.
“The use of alternative, safer desiccants or no-spray zones in fields bordering susceptible seed crops are also worth exploring,” Sophie adds.
AHDB Potatoes have a free leaflet and in-cab sticker warning of the risks when spraying glyphosate near vulnerable seed potato crops and giving straightforward advice on safe application of the chemical.
These materials provide information to seed potato growers, neighbours and landlords, with advice on correct spraying and encouraging dialogue. They outline the damage that can be caused by glyphosate and what can be done to prevent it.
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