AHDB potatoes

About Potato Council

Potato Council is a division of the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board, and is committed to supporting the British potato industry.

It is established via the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Order 2008.

For further information see Explanatory Document relating to the Potato Sector (2.1MB)
See also Current levy rates.

For detailed information about Potato Council activities, please refer to the Corporate Plan.

Growing

Potato Council is delivering applied research projects and knowledge transfer that will benefit levy payers by improving competitiveness and the sustainability of the industry.

Business Improvement
The Potato Council business-improvement programme helps you compare your potato crop confidentially with similar enterprises. It will also gauge how your production costs and business performance fare against the sector’s upper quartile performance.


Crop Nutrition
Various levy funded projects that examined fertiliser use and uptake by potato crops have identified where potential savings can be made by matching application with true fertiliser requirement.


Energy
Energy underpins almost every commercial activity either directly or indirectly, and potato production is no exception. Energy-intensive activities are becoming increasingly visible as prices increase. These pages will be updated frequently with information to help you rise above these rapid changes in costs.


Gardeners Guidance
Potato Council has recognised the need to provide gardeners with information to ensure that all crops, whether they are grown in allotments and gardens or commercially, are healthy.


Grower Collaboration
Putting research into practice. Take a research result from a conventional research establishment, recruit a high profile grower relevant to subject to undertake a commercial scale trial to evaluate a “Modified” practice against the growers “Conventional” practice. A report of the trial would be produced by the research establishment and successes disseminated to Industry.


Harvesting & Bruising
Help minimise bruising and cut losses to the industry by helping everyone involved in the production and handling of potatoes. Fourteen risk assessment advice sheets are available covering the agronomic factors that can influence a crop's susceptibility to bruising.

Harvester settings guides are a quick reference source of practical information for harvester operators.


Health & Safety
PCL have developed a modular training programme for the Industry to train staff in procedures to ensure a safe working environment, whilst emphasising product quality and the correct use of machinery within operations that are regarded as high risk.


Plant Health
Plant health remains a particular concern to the potato industry and will continue to be a focus for activity with sections covering areas such as Aphid & Viruses, Blight, Dickeya, PCN, Pest & Diseases, Root Knot Nematode, Safe Haven Seed, Levy payer numbers for trace-back.


Seed
contains links to information and resources that are designed to be useful for you whether producing, marketing or sourcing quality seed potatoes.


Soil
Potato Council Soil page contains information on managing soil for potato production providing publications, practical guides, research reports and latest news.


Sustainability
Potato Council is developing a response to the Sustainability Agenda and we would be very interested to hear your views.


Water
Potato Council Water page contains information on managing water usage for potato production providing links to information on Drought and Flooding, Water Framework Directive, Water Abstraction, Reservoirs, publications, practical guides, research reports and latest news.

Contact

Potato Council
Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
Stoneleigh Park
Kenilworth
Warwickshire
CV8 2TL

T: 0247 669 2051
E: [email protected]
W: www.ahdb.org.uk
 

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Staff Member
Location
Lichfield
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Potato Council conference tackles key industry concerns

The recent Seed Industry Event held in Crieff on 25 November 2014 did not shy away from discussing some of the top concerns that our industry has. PCN, blackleg and aphid-borne viruses were all ‘must-attend’ sessions planned into the high-level industry programme months in advance.

Dr Rob Clayton, Director of Potato Council welcomed over 150 growers, agronomists and plant health experts to the biennial conference, highlighting the broader ‘seed to ware’ focus this year covering issues that affect the wider supply chain, such as processing, retail, food service and storage.

“This fast-paced event takes place in what we know to be a depressed market at the moment. Today provides our industry with the opportunity to discuss commercial, technical and strategic issues with our peers at the highest level,” Dr Clayton said.

“It’s also traditional at this event to welcome one or two international speakers to make sure we are exposing global best practice as well as domestic. We have experts here to tell us about seed production issues in the growing market of Kenya, and we hear details on the Seed Potato Classification System and plant health concerns from the perspective of the Dutch seed potato inspectorate.”

The morning opened with an emphasis on processing and how consumer demand for processed potato products is on the rise. Dr Sharon Hall, Director General of the Potato Processors Association, echoed this point, advising that “Fifty seven per cent of UK consumption of potatoes is in processed form and in 2013 around twenty eight per cent of the planted area in GB was destined for processing. And this trend is increasing. This provides us with both opportunities and challenges but ultimately what processors are looking for is a secure and consistent supply of quality potatoes.

“Breeding varieties for processing needs to take account of many factors, such as uniformity of shape, fry colour, texture and flavour but also threats from pests and pathogens, environmental factors such as adaptability to climate change, and of course good storability. We do have the resources of genetic material to search for characteristics to help us address the challenges. For example, we can cross the preserved wild varieties of potatoes into existing varieties. This could help us breed varieties that can achieve higher marketable yields with better processing qualities and more resilience to pests, diseases and climate change.”

Gloucestershire grower Graham Nichols, in the seed supply workshop he co-led with Cornish grower Shaun White, talked about how Blackleg is their number one issue. Shaun’s family's business grows salads and maincrop for the fresh pre-pack market. Shaun stressed that “Rots and internal defects are unacceptable to the final consumer. Even small percentages of Blackleg in seed can create a higher risk of this further down the supply chain. In turn, causing problem's for the grower, packer and final retail outlet.”


The issue of blackleg was tackled in depth by SASA’s Prof. Gerry Saddler, highlighting current outputs from a jointly funded Potato Council/Scottish Government project led by Prof. Ian Toth at the James Hutton Institute, Dundee. Gerry gave details of a recently launched survey of Pre-Basic (PB) seed production, the commercial pressures that PB growers are under, and the changes in industry practice. These linked activities aim to establish the reasons for increased blackleg occurrence in PB crops and the steps that need to be taken to counteract this threat.


In GB, the primary cause of blackleg is P. atrosepticum and levels of disease remain stubbornly high. Seed is a significant infection route but environmental factors and industry practice may also contribute. Gerry concluded that the most likely solution could be the aggregation of marginal gains; in effect, small improvements in a number of activities such as hygiene and crop management, which may ultimately bring about a reduction in blackleg incidence. The findings from the joint Potato Council/Scottish Government R&D project are expected in Autumn 2016 and the survey of PB production in Spring 2015.


Fera’s senior entomologist Larissa Collins and plant virologist Adrian Fox led the lively interactive workshop where delegates utilised microscopes to identify key aphid species and the viruses they carry into the potato crop, and highlighting Potato Council-sponsored aphid monitoring tools growers can use.

John Sarup of Spud Agronomy addressed ‘PCN creep’ highlighting the threat to seed potato production. He discussed, amongst many things, how extending rotations will be necessary and asked how can our industry influence buyers and end-markets to embrace variety choices which can in turn act as a potent weapon in PCN control.

Hassan Were gave a fascinating insight into the challenges potato growers have in Kenya, where years of farm-saved, poor quality seed is seriously affecting yield and quality. Henk van de Haar, from The Netherlands Seed Inspection Authority (NAK) highlighted the SPCS, the need for regular reviews to ensure it remains fit for purpose and how the revised EU grades are a step in the right direction. SASA’s Denise A’Hara provided a related update on the UK implementation of the new EU legislation.

The final talk was given by Adrian Cunnington, Head of Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, demonstrating how far storage has advanced in fifty years and the investment and work still needed to make storage more viable, effective and efficient in the decades to come.

The day provided a great many discussion points and delegates may have gone away with a few questions as well as answers! However, this key strategic event has always addressed the top-level issues that affect our whole industry – not just seed - and there was certainly no shortage of food-for-thought at Crieff this year.

Useful links

SIE14 presentations and workshop slides (downloadable PDF’s): www.potato.org.uk/knowledge-hub/media/presentations
 

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Calling all Welsh potato farmers


13 January, 2015


Potato growers, advisors and agronomists will meet at the Cleddau Bridge Hotel, Pembroke Dock, 20 January, 2015 to get the latest technical information at Potato Council’s Welsh Potato day.



The first Potato Council event of the year is a must for growers who are serious about a long-term future in the potato industry. This technical-focused event will include talks from Potato Council experts and industry leaders and a practical expert-led panel discussion. Registrations commence at 10.00am for a 10.30 start.


The morning sessions kick off with Stu Baker from Potato Council’s marketing team who will report on current trends and consumption. Following on Brian Klass and Ged Davies of Natural Resources Wales will be updating delegates on the Water management within the Cleddau Catchment.

After an opportunity for networking over lunch Ken Smith of ADAS will present the latest thinking on soil and water management while Peter Howell from NFU Cymru will discuss CAP reform and its impact on Welsh growers.

The final ‘question time’ style interactive panel session will tackle “The challenges of Potato production in Wales” where delegates will have the opportunity to ask questions important to their own business.

Growers can register for the Welsh Potato Day at: www.potato.org.uk/events or by calling Miya Kotecha on: 07792209919
 

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Potato and horticulture UK exports showcase at Fruit Logistica 2015

Building on the growing success of its collaboration over the past two years, Potato Council and Horticultural Development Company (HDC) will bring the largest collaborative UK stand yet to this year’s Fruit Logistica event in Berlin.

The event being held Wednesday 4 – 6 February at Berlin’s Messe, will see Potato Council and HDC, both divisions of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), join forces alongside a further eight co-exhibitors from the potato and horticulture industries to showcase UK production and export opportunities to over 60,000 trade visitors.

Co-exhibitors on this year’s stand include potato industry representatives from Moorhouse & Mohan, Skea Organics, Live Trace, Mylnefield Research Services (MRS) Ltd, SASA and Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, alongside horticultural growers Angus Soft Fruits and A C Goatham & Sons.

The collaboration will develop seed potato export opportunities from Britain and raise the profile of the quality and diversity of UK horticultural crops by providing a platform for the industry from which to promote, do business and network.

Ruth Ashfield of HDC, said, “For a large part of the potato and horticulture supply chain in Great Britain export is an untapped area of opportunity. Our aim is to provide a chance for businesses to attend this major event and provide a high profile presence to support their export activity.”

Robert Burns, of the Potato Council, says “This year we’re even more excited to return with the UK industry stand as we feature new exhibitors and welcome back those who have been with us from the start. This year the stand offers a breadth of co-exhibitors from fresh produce and seed potato producers to crop science and commercial services, strengthening our showcase of the potato and horticulture industries at this major event.”

“We are experiencing another bumper year for seed potato exports, with a likely new all-time record of almost 53k tonnes going to Egypt already. This represents a 7% increase to Egypt alone this season so far, and we anticipate that overall GB seed potato exports worldwide are likely to be up again this year with exports still underway.”

Located in Hall 8.2 on stand B.06, Thursday 5 February will see Potato Council and HDC join forces with neighbouring exhibitors, the Commercial Horticultural Association (CHA) to host a UKTI-sponsored drinks reception from 4.30 until 6.00pm. Other UK exhibitors, visitors and their worldwide contacts, including UK and worldwide media, are all welcome to attend.

Visitors interested in exploring export opportunities, meeting UK producers, talking to technical experts or wanting to participate on the UK stand at next year’s event are urged to attend.

For more information visit www.potato.org.uk or www.hdc.ahdb.org.uk
 

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Potato Council’s Winter Forum tour kicks off Thursday


With just seven weeks until Spring, January is an ideal time to meet up with fellow growers and technical experts to get prepared for the 2015 potato crop.


More than 100 delegates are signed up will be heading to the first Potato Council Winter Forum Tour date at Harper Adams, Shropshire this Thursday (29 January, 2015).


Dr Philip Burgess, who joined Potato Council as Head of Knowledge Transfer last summer is excited about the programme, “There are currently huge challenges facing potato growers. We have listened to feedback and I believe we have shaken up this agenda to provide highly topical and relevant technical content which will arm delgates with the best science driven advice GB can offer.”


Further tour dates take place in Peterborough, 4 February and at SASA, in Edinburgh, 10 February and registration is live atwww.potato.org.uk/events.


A hand picked line up of key opinion leaders include experts from NIAB CUF; SA Consulting; Scottish Agronomy; Spud Agronomy; and The James Hutton Institute.


So if you’ve ever wondered how we could control Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) in a world of fewer pesticides? How PCN population dynamics are changing? How blight control will work in 2015 and is control of the pathogen getting harder? How agronomists should be assisting their clients? How we might be going wrong with soil management for potato crops? These answers questions and others will be unveiled at each forum.


For more Winter Forum Tour details and to register: www.potato.org.uk/events
 

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23 March 2015

Consumer needs drive potato innovation strategy

Head of Potato Council R&D, Dr Mike Storey discusses Potato Council’s new Research and Innovation Strategy which is focused on delivering the greatest benefits to levy payers over the next 5 years.

“Looking to 2020, GB will continue to need to produce crops efficiently and economically,” says Mike. “But production must be driven by customer needs and innovation.”

The newly launched strategy addresses priorities identified as important by industry and reflects consultation and discussion with levy payers and stakeholders over the last 18 months.

Key objectives include building GB’s share of the domestic market in seed, meeting consumer requirements for affordable and convenient fresh and processed potatoes, and exploiting export markets with a range of potato products and technologies.

“Research and innovation has moved on and consumers’ needs are front and centre of all new project investments,” says Mike. “Potato Council has a commitment to improve the production of potatoes, to assist the industry in promoting potatoes and to protect the reputation of the sector.”

Potato Council spends £1.2m annually on research topics identified by the industry as being important to the sector. The world class programme levers funding from third parties and partnerships, meaning that we are involved in £15m worth of R&D projects.

A number of these are collaborative projects across AHDB. Examples include work on soils and phosphorus, insecticide resistance and grain aphids, bio-fumigation and the Farm Efficiency Calculator

“Going forward there is recognition of a rapidly developing landscape for R&I funding and this requires flexibility to exploit opportunities,” says Mike. “Agricultural production and technology now has a far higher visibility around food security and sustainability agendas.”

Within the government Agri-Tech Strategy, there are opportunities for the GB potato industry to exploit funding. Already, several potato industry-led projects have been supported by Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board).

Produce, Promote and Protect is at the heart of the strategy which prioritises the following objectives:

· To build resilience into systems and manage risks better in production by exploiting new knowledge and innovations that can be used on-farm, in-store and along the supply chain.

· To identify and exploit new business opportunities in the market by a better understanding of crop characteristics and by using information and technology to help develop new products that meet end-user requirements

· For the industry to be prepared for change, arising from e.g. legislation, climate change, or lack of skills which may have economic, environmental or societal consequences that impact on growers and supply chain profitability


The 2015-2020 R&I Strategy can be viewed here: www.potato.org.uk/research
 

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  • The GB weekly average price (free-buy and contract trade) for the week ending 10 April was £127.82/t, while the GB weekly free-buy average price was £88.36/t.
  • Limited free-buy demand in the packing market centred on very best supplies with firmer prices for top of the range samples. There was little interest in poorer quality lots which were difficult to move.
  • In the bag market mainly favourable weather conditions over the Easter period were conducive to good movement of chipping supplies and subsequent replenishment of stocks in the following days. Demand centred on best quality lots mainly from the Eastern Counties where prices of some varieties firmed.
  • The Potato Council Grower Panel Planting Survey estimates that c.30,000ha of GB crop was planted to 11 April. The current estimate is down c.10,000ha on the same week in 2014 (c.40,000ha, 33% planted) and c.11,000ha more than at the same point in 2013 (c.19,000ha, 16% planted).
- See more at: http://www.potato.org.uk/publications/potato-weekly-monday-13-april-2015#sthash.VFBxfLoB.dpuf
 

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Supporting potato trade with the Canaries



Each year, large quantities of GB ware and seed are exported to the Canary Islands. Potato Council’s head of seed and export, Rob Burns, updates on the current difficulties affecting this long established trade agreement.


“While no one knows the exact date of the potato's arrival Europe, its entry point was probably Spain's Canary Islands, where traditional potato cuisine plays an important part of their culture,” says Rob.


The islands’ population of 2.1 million is supplemented by a further 9 million tourists each year and the islands’ domestic potato production cannot sustain the high level of demand.


“This makes it a regular destination for 30,000 tonnes of high quality GB ware, predominately from Essex. The Canaries also import our high quality, high health seed stocks for replanting.”


This season has been especially frustrating and costly for some of our exporters. Nearly 2% of ware consignments were rejected due to the presence of soil and a small number of seed consignments were also rejected for being above disease tolerance levels.


“The Canary Islands has a different plant health status to the rest of Spain and is treated by the EU as a ‘third country’. This means consignments are required to be inspected by Plant Health Inspectors and accompanied by Phytosanitary Certificates which confirm that they meet all the importing country’s requirements,” says Rob.



In order to understand the reasons for the rejections and find ways to reduce these occurring, Defra has been working through the British Embassy in Madrid since before Christmas to build relationships with key personnel with MAGRAMA (Spanish Ministry of Agriculture), the authority which oversees import controls and enforcement on the islands.



“It’s imperative that rejection issues are swiftly resolved,” notes Rob. “This long standing trade arrangement is recognised as important to both the UK and Spain.”



Defra’s discussions with MAGRAMA, have confirmed that the Canary Islands regulations are interpreted as meaning a ‘zero tolerance’ for soil on imported material. This is based on the Canary Islands Order of 12 March 1987, which lays down plant health rules for the importation, exportation and transit of plants and plant products.



“The interpretation of zero soil tolerance means is that there can be no soil adhering to the potatoes ,” says Rob.



Defra has requested further information from the Spanish authorities on how their Regulations are being interpreted by the Canary Islands’ inspectors and is seeking clarification about disease tolerance levels following this seasons rejections. APHA Plant Health inspectors will update the current guidelines to include any additional detailed disease tolerance levels once these have been received from the Spanish authorities. UK Exporters should consult as usual with their Plant Health inspectors for guidelines in advance of next season’s exports.



“It has been a frustrating time for GB exporters appealing the rejection process, which is completely impractical,” states Rob.



A formal appeal in writing has to be submitted to MAGRAMA within one month of the rejection.



“However, the process is taking around 6 months and is currently unworkable for the purposes of any particular shipment.”



The UK head of National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) will also now receive formal notifications of rejections from the islands which were previously only sent to the exporter concerned.
 

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Potato Industry CIPC Stewardship Group announce 2015/16 product label

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New statutory product label changes to Chlorpropham (CIPC) were announced in July. CIPC is an essential tool to control sprouting and is applied to around 3.5m tonnes of potatoes stored each year by around 1,000 growers.



New application rates for CIPC have been agreed for 2015-16. The gradual annual reduction in CIPC total dose was requested by the companies that hold the approvals for formulations as part of the CIPC stewardship process, and was agreed with the Expert Committee on Pesticides (previously Advisory Committee on Pesticides).



For the 2015-16 season, new statutory limits on total dose rates, approved by Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) are 30g/tonne for the fresh market and 50g/tonne for processing (including fish & chip shops and peeling). The latest time of application is 14 days before removal from store for sale or processing is also a statutory requirement.



Best practice, in-line with Red Tractor Farm Assurance and the NAAC applicator group, permits just one application in cold stores (<5°C), early in storage, before temperature is decreased below 7°C.

“From 2017 it is expected that new product labels will permit a total dose of no more than 36 grams/tonne,” says Adrian Briddon, Group Secretary of the Stewardship Group. “More importantly, it is anticipated, the conditions under which this may be applied, will be more strictly controlled on product labels.”
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It is recommended that applications at full label rates should not be carried out unless best practice methods are in place and stores are suitable for effective distribution of the chemical.



“BASIS advisors and users of CIPC should be aware that even modest doses (around 10-14 grams/tonne) applied under conditions where best practice modifications have not been adopted will increase the risk of a Maximum Residue Level exceedance,” added Mr Briddon.



“If you use CIPC, you must check and adhere to the statutory conditions of use and, now more than ever, it is critical that users adopt best practice. The easiest way of doing this is to use an NAAC applicator and ensure that a store checklist is completed before any application is made.” The ‘Be CIPC Compliant’ campaign (www.BeCIPCcompliant.co.uk) promotes best practice and raises awareness of the issues surrounding CIPC use. The aim is to reduce the levels of residue found on crops, to safeguard its availability for future use.



Growers who are upgrading or building new stores can contact the team at SBCSR for advice, before capital investment takes place. For more information on CIPC, the StoreCheck service and related issues, contact Adrian Briddon, Technologist at AHDB Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research (SBCSR) and Secretary of the CIPC Stewardship Group, on 01406 359412.

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Potato industry urged to celebrate high achievers

AHDB Potatoes invites industry’s nominations for this year's British Potato Industry Award (BPIA). This prestigious honour is awarded to individuals for their outstanding contribution to the GB potato industry. AHDB Potatoes continues to support the industry’s leaders in marketing, innovation, research and development, and by presenting this award each year, it recognises the dedication and entrepreneurial spirit of those high-achievers who have made outstanding contributions to the overall GB potato industry.

Fiona Fell, AHDB Potatoes’ Chair, is a passionate advocate of the potential of the potato industry and comments “This award is not only about recognising decades of dedicated hard work by individuals, it is also highlights the fantastic opportunities which are available to the next generation in the potato industry, showing how enthusiasm and hard work can reap rewards.

“The potato industry is a technically advanced environment which provides individuals with a chance to specialise and excel, and be recognised for the invaluable work they do, whichever part of the potato supply chain they are in.”

Previous award winners have included variety breeders, specialists in R&D and knowledge transfer, storage engineers, processing specialists, machinery designers and journalists. Nominations for 2015 are encouraged for candidates in any sector of the potato industry who have made an outstanding contribution.

To ensure commendable award winners for the future, you need new high-fliers coming up through the ranks. AHDB leads on the development of skills for the next generation and encourages young talent to take up a rewarding career in the potato supply chain.

Appreciating that the potato sector has a wealth of opportunities for those with the right skills and a passion to learn, AHDB Potatoes launched the first-ever ‘Next Generation’ programme this year. The aim of the programme is to develop the future leaders of our industry and to give them exposure to the wider supply chain. Delegates are now fully immersed in their programme of business and technical sessions and supply chain visits, which culminates in March 2016. It would be no surprise to see one of our ‘Next Generation’ delegates accepting the industry award in the future!

So, please submit your nomination for a worthy candidate. Nominations are straightforward to submit and forms are available at potatoes.ahdb.org.uk/events/bp-2015 and from the award committee secretary, Margaret Skinner, British Potato Industry Award, AHDB Potatoes, Rural Centre, West Mains, Newbridge, Midlothian, EH28 8NZ. E-mail: [email protected] and on Tel: 0131 297 7640.
 

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KEY EVENTS FOR POTATO GROWERS

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Scotland is set to host a number of important potato sector events in the coming months.

AHDB Potatoes is highlighting the dates for three key events set to take place in July, August and November.

Claire Hodge, Knowledge Transfer Manager for AHDB Potatoes in Scotland, explains more:

“Once the majority of growers have finished planting, we are keen to draw their attention to these three key events, in July, August and November. Each event will have something to appeal to growers throughout Scotland and also those from further afield.”

“We are extremely excited about the Strategic Potato (or ‘SPot’) Farm project which takes AHDB funded research to the next level, applying proven beneficial results to a real, commercial farm.

Even before work starts in earnest in 2017, it’s great that Bruce Farms, our SPot Scotland hosts, are all set to give the project an advance ‘soft-launch’ this summer, with an Open Day on 12th July 2016. The July Open Day will focus on a 24ha crop of Maris Piper and explore the results of different bed tilling and stone separation techniques undertaken on trial areas across the field.”

“Bruce Farms are one of the largest potato growers in Scotland and we hope that fellow farmers will be keen to attend on 12th July for an insight into this multi-faceted business alongside the SPot Farm’s demonstrations of new research and technologies in practice.”

A month later, on 11th August AHDB Potatoes will once again partner with the James Hutton Institute (JHI) at Balruddery, Dundee for the largest field-based potato event in the UK, Potatoes in Practice. The event brings together variety demonstrations, working machinery, research and trade exhibits and is regarded as an essential date in the potato industry calendar.

Later in the year, when harvest is completed and thoughts turn to all-things-seed, the biennial Seed Industry Event will take place on 3rd November.

“Our theme this year is ‘linking seed and supply chain”, advises Robert Burns, head of AHDB Potatoes seed campaigns. “This event has evolved from a seed-specific focus into an industry-wide opportunity for seed and ware growers and supply chain colleagues to get together, discuss current issues and learn more about the challenges and opportunities that exist from seed production right along our supply chain.”

Detailed programmes are being pulled together for each of these important events in the potato calendar and growers are encouraged to visit the AHDB Potatoes website for more details and booking information.

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Chris F

Staff Member
Media
Location
Hammerwich
Shropshire potato grower joins AHDB Farm Excellence Platform


Shropshire-based Heal Farms has become the latest addition to AHDB’s Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm family.

The arable and poultry farm estate, which grows around 500 hectares of potatoes each year, will become the new home of SPot Farm West.

It will host a series of farm walks and open days, the first of which will be held on 6 June. There will also be a results day at the end of the year.

AHDB Strategic Farms harness the proven benefits of ‘farmer to farmer’ learning to accelerate the uptake of knowledge. They provide a platform for farmers to explore the potential for new technology and best practice to have an impact on their business, giving them the confidence to implement new ideas on their own farms.

Anne Stone, Knowledge Exchange Manager for AHDB Potatoes, who leads the SPot Farm West project, said: “Each farm has its own environment and challenges, so it is exciting to have an opportunity to see how effective the latest technology is when applied on Heal Farms’ Shropshire soils.”

Farms Director at Heal Farms, Matthew Wallace, said: “As a business, we are interested in improving productivity and the SPot Farm programme provides us with an opportunity to do that. As well as working alongside researchers and experts, it will be interesting to hear about the approach taken by other growers in the West at the open days and farm walks.”

PCN control demonstrations

There will be six technical demonstrations at the SPot Farm, all related to potato cyst nematode (PCN) control. PCN is the most important potato pest in Britain and has the potential to cause substantial yield losses. There will be a range of complementary measures demonstrated at Heal Farms, including resistant varieties, trap crops, biofumigation and nematicide regimes.

Speaking of a previous SPot farm event, Andy Goulding, Cheshire-based agronomist with Hutchinsons/CAS, said: “This event has been really insightful. More growers should come along so they can challenge the research themselves but there’s certainly things I can take away from this and put in to practice for the benefit of my grower clients.”

Around 100 farms are part of AHDB’s wider Farm Excellence Platform, which inspires industry to improve performance and succeed through farmer to farmer knowledge exchange. The programme includes the development of Strategic Farms and Monitor Farms across six agricultural sectors.

One of the host farmers from AHDB’s previous SPot Farm West, W B Daw and Sons, Sam Daw said of his time as a SPot farmer: “The experience was challenging, but ultimately rewarding. We had the opportunity to try new methods, using our own standard technology and with the support of expert scientists. We had two successful years.”

AHDB aims to inspire our farmers and growers to succeed in a rapidly changing world. One of our strategic priorities is accelerate innovation and productivity growth through coordinated research and knowledge exchange.
 

Chris F

Staff Member
Media
Location
Hammerwich
AHDB news release

28 April 2017

3.6% increase in potato area in North West Europe estimated

The first potato area estimate from the North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) region suggests a possible increase of 3.6% compared with last season. The total planted area is estimated to be approximately 572,000ha (excluding potatoes for seed and starch), which would be the highest area for the last ten years, if achieved.

Amber Cottingham, analyst at AHDB said: “Earlier expectations suggested growth in the area would have been much larger in order to fulfil the continuously expanding requirements of the European processing industry. The poor yielding crop of the 2016 season has forestalled this by causing a shortage in seed availability across much of Europe. Seed availability in GB was better as yield in Scotland, a key producer of seed potatoes, was higher than in other areas of Europe.”

It is important to note is that the GB proportion of the 2017 area estimate is based on a historical average. The NEPG area estimate is therefore likely to change as more information becomes available.

Production potential dependent on yield

Although these estimates suggest a substantial increase in planted area, this does not guarantee ten-year high output. There is still much of the season to come and yields vary, driven mainly by weather, a factor that is difficult to predict.

AHDB Potatoes’ production modelling based on planted area and various yield scenarios, forecast a year-on-year production increase of between 3% and 21%.

Amber said: “Our analysis suggests that if the current area estimate is realised, production is likely to increase across the NEPG area, even if the yields achieved are similar to the lows of 2012, which was an usually low yielding year. However, with a possible range of between 25 million tonnes and almost 30 million tonnes, there is still considerable uncertainty around how the season will likely play out.”

Stock low across the region

Most NEPG countries have indicated that stocks are low, especially for free-buy potatoes.

Amber said: “With processing levels currently high and around three months still to go before the first early processing varieties would typically be available, this could keep prices firm. Several NEPG countries will soon publish updated stocks figures based on grower surveys, including the AHDB end-March stock figures, which will give a better picture of the stocks held in grower’s stores across the region.”

Planting progressing well

Planting is progressing well for all of the NEPG countries with many reporting ‘ideal’ conditions and progress ahead of average. In Great Britain, with approximately 70,000ha planted to 22 April, the current estimate is up by around 37,000ha on the same week in 2016 and approximately 5,000ha up on the same point in 2015.
 

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Man fined £300 for bonfire-related waste offences

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

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A man has pleaded guilty at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to waste offences relating to a bonfire next to the electrical sub-station on the Circular Road in Newtownards, Co. Down.

Gareth Gill (51) of Abbot’s Walk, Newtownards pleaded guilty to two charges under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, for which he was fined £150 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy

On June 25, 2018, PSNI officers went to Gill’s yard, where they found a large amount of waste consisting of scrap wood, pallets, carpet and underlay.

Discussion with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers confirmed the site...
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