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Growers dig into on-farm innovations at SPot Farm East

12 July 2016

Over 120 growers, agronomists and trade representatives saw demonstrations of best practice growing and new innovations in action at the first Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm ‘Super Tuesday’ of the year at Elveden Estate, West Suffolk, 5 July.

 “We’ve long thought about how we can turn the great research, undertaken and supported by AHDB with scientific institutions across the UK, into something practical our growers can apply and work with,” commented Mark Taylor, Business Unit Director for IPL and member of AHDB Potatoes’ Research and Knowledge Transfer Committee. 

“It’s events like this that deliver that opportunity and create the connection between good science and practical farm practice.” 

Expert-led tours around the vast estate included visual displays of trials to build a reliable, varietal dataset on Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) tolerance; as well as conversations about how best to use irrigation as protection against Common Scab.

Popular demonstration plots included explorations of herbicide alternatives, planning ahead for a potential loss of linuron, as well as the increasing importance of considering sulphur in crop nutrition regimes.

“I came back today following last month’s farm walk to catch up on how things have developed,” said Philip Britton, technical manager and agronomist from Farmcare Ltd, near Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

“I was particularly interested in the herbicide trials, how the varying mixes have performed on all the different weed spectrums.

“Also the work on Common Scab control by Mark Stalham (NIAB CUF) included some varieties, among the many demonstrated, such as Vales Sovereign, Maris Piper and Maris Peer, that we are growing ourselves which makes it really relevant to what we’re doing.

“Next season, following what I’ve seen and learned here, I’ll be looking at Sulphur and the levels in soil as well as refining what we’re doing with irrigation. 

“We’ve made some steps in the right direction, but we need to continue to apply what we’re learning about here to what we’re doing and the varieties we’re growing to get the best out of things.”       

Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-Tech East, the regional network organisation bringing together farmers and innovators, attended the day.  

“The SPot Farm concept fits right into what we’re trying to achieve; applying new innovations and getting the research out into the fields to help farmers. 

“If I met a new grower I would say this is the go-to-event for potato farmers in the East of England. And if they were anywhere else I would tell them to find their local SPot Farm. Because as well as finding out about new innovations, this is also a great networking opportunity. 

“You can meet your peers, go around the trade stands, and explore someone else’s holdings, seeing what’s good and what’s maybe less good, sharing thoughts on innovation and best practice.

“This is the second event of a series this year, and Elveden will be inviting farmers to the site throughout the growing season, year-on-year, to see trends and changes and how things are progressing. So there are lots more opportunities for anyone who missed out today.”

The next SPot Farm ‘Super Tuesday’ event is scheduled for 12 July, hosted by Bruce Farms in Perthshire, Scotland, with a programme tailored to the Scottish grower base. 

Then SPot Farm West, led by W B Daw and Sons, Staffordshire, opens its doors on a whole new site in Thorpe Constantine, 19 July.  

Each SPot Farm site will undertake innovative programmes appropriate to their region and market sector, demonstrating cutting-edge techniques in commercial scale potato growing environments.

The events are free to attend, though booking is essential to ensure allocation on either the morning or afternoon tour. Content is repeated for both sessions. 
Register at: potatoes.ahdb.org.uk/events or contact Miya Kotecha on 07792 209 919.

- Ends -

For more information:
Helen Williams, AHDB Potatoes Marcomms Executive, Helen.Williams@ahdb.org.uk, 024 7647 8662
Jenny Bashford, AHDB Potatoes Knowledge Exchange Manager, Jenny.Bashford@ahdb.org.uk, 07500 100 715
 

Notes to Editors
• Elveden Farms has been awarded a grant of £109,273 towards this project (total value £218,256) by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
• The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is a Non-Departmental Public Body funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain through statutory levies. It is managed as an independent organisation. www.ahdb.org.uk  
• AHDB’s purpose is to equip levy payers with independent, evidence based information and tools to grow, become more competitive and sustainable. 
• The ‘AHDB Potatoes’ brand serves to highlight AHDB work and resources that help make the British potato industry more sustainable, competitive and profitable, and stimulate use of the GB potato crop in home and export markets potatoes.ahdb.org.uk

 

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