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Glyphosate - are your seed potatoes at risk?

27 July 2011

Seed growers with crops bordering cereals or oilseed rape should beware the risk of contamination, warns AHDB Potatoes technical executive Sophie Lock.

Used as a harvest aid for cereal crops and oilseed rape, glyphosate can cause significant damage to seed potato crops, even at concentrations below the level of detection. 

“Damage often isn’t noticed until the crop has been marketed and replanted, causing commercial disputes that often take several years and large sums of money to resolve,” says Sophie.

There are two principal sources of glyphosate contamination:

1. Poor cleaning of the sprayer when spraying seed potatoes after glyphosate

2. Drift from neighbouring crops being sprayed with glyphosate.

“Drift is potentially the most serious, because damage often goes unnoticed  and can involve non-potato growing farmers,” continues Sophie. “We regularly undertake cross-sector campaigns to raise understanding of the vulnerability of seed potatoes and the potentially devastating consequences for their growers.” 

Awareness raising focuses on two key areas:

1. Empowering the seed potato grower to take responsibility for the area around his crop (especially on rented land)

2. Targeting information directly to cereal growers (who don’t grow potatoes) through fact sheets, and via AHDB Potatoes contacts in the cereals sector and other relevant industry bodies.
AHDB Potatoes has produced a free leaflet and in-cab sticker to communicate glyphosate advice to seed potato growers and their neighbours, encouraging dialogue with neighbours and landlords, and outlining the damage that can be caused and what can be done to prevent it.

For free copies of leaflet and stickers, contact Sophie Lock at the AHDB Potatoes, on: 024 7647 8772, or email:

Further information can be found here on AHDB Potatoes webpages.

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