Emerald Research Limited (ERL) will be exhibiting at the Potato Days UK event, which is being held on the 4th and 5th September by kind permission of Dyson Farming at Nocton, Lincolnshire.  The event will be the largest potato sector event being held in the UK this year and covers ‘all things potato’. Including on site lifting machinery demonstrations, trade stands along with a large trial plot area.  ERL have taken one of the trial plots, in which they will be running an extension of their Transformative Reduced Input in Potatoes (TRIP) project trials.

The importance of potatoes as a food crop has been highlighted recently by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations who designated the 30th May 2024 as the inaugural International Day of the Potato.  Potatoes are a staple food for billions of people worldwide and therefore key to combating hunger – but the crop is not without its issues; one of the challenges is the extensive carbon footprint and soil impact that commercial potato production has.

Commercial potato production faces a monumental challenge as many governments focused on ‘Net Zero Agriculture’, this is due to the intensive soil cultivation and large inputs of inorganic nutrients, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides that go in to producing a healthy crop along with the energy that is needed to preserve it in storage. The TRIP project team estimates that 35% of the carbon footprint of potato production is fertiliser, followed by respectively fuel 32% and storage 24%,

ERL’s on site trial plots are designed to evaluate ways of reducing the fertiliser and fungicide footprint through using  comprehensive programmes of microbials, biostimulants and nutrient placement at planting combined with folair applications once there is a canopy.  Simon Fox MD of ERL states, 

“This ambitious trial sets out to demonstrate that we can reduce fertiliser inputs by up to 50%, minimise fungicide use and still achieve high commercial yields and Net Margins, despite planting in May into soils that are still cold and wet.”

Foliar N - Foliar nitrogen fertiliser