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Opportunity to make better use of organic manures, May 23rd

Potato Council’s first South West Potato Day took place at Nick and Claire Bragg’s Frogmary Green Farm, South Petherton, Somerset

Too much nitrogen can delay bulking and reduce yield, so it makes economic sense to ensure quantities applied are accurate.
That was the message to potato growers attending the first Potato Council South West Potato Day at Frogmary Green Farm, South Petherton, Somerset.
ADAS principal research scientist Ken Smith told growers attending the event although the potato industry has a relatively low carbon footprint, nitrous oxide emissions (another greenhouse gas) from soil were strongly influenced by manure and fertiliser applications, and this might come under scrutiny in the future. Commenting on rates of N use, Dr Smith said:
- If nitrogen rates are too high, the result can be delayed tuber initiation, excessive/persistent canopy and delayed skin-set, plus possible increased losses to the environment. Particular care is needed with poultry manure which is like ‘rocket fuel’ - it can be more potent than you think.
Although up to half the national crop received organic manure of some type each year, relatively little was used effectively, and growers could shave pounds off their fertiliser bills with the help of accurate and quick nutrient analysis of organic manures.
Use of near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) to analyse manure had been recently developed with Potato Council research and development support in collaboration with other AHDB divisions.
- This test is inexpensive compared with laboratory charges and only takes a few days. It can really help to make the most of organic manures, which is good for profits and for the environment, said Dr Smith.


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