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New alliances support TPP’s ambitions

June 2023

The 2023 season will build on the first-year success, writes Nick Winmill, Agrii head of potato R&D and a founding member of The Potato Partnership

Through collaboration we can achieve far more than if we worked alone. The Potato Partnership (TPP) was established with the understanding of its founding members that a collaborative effort was in our best means of finding answers to the production challenges confronting our industry. We have enjoyed a solid first year, but we are not resting on our laurels. The programme for 2023 will see new partners involved and new sites added to extend the breadth of our trials and the value of the data generated.

I am pleased to say that both CUPGRA and Produce Solutions will join the TPP for the 2023 season. In addition to exhibiting at their respective grower events in July, both will support the TPP East open day, also in July. We have also been working hard to take the TPP further north. In partnership with SRUC – which extends the long history of collaboration between Agrii and SRUC on trials – the TPP support a comprehensive series of trials in pursuit of effective aphid control. The TPP’s involvement alongside others will assess the potential of two near-to-market insecticides and a novel treatment that has shown value in other crops while giving us access to a larger trials programme than we could manage alone. Virus is one of the greatest threats facing the potato sector and this work will complement the work of others investigating cultural controls.

Our PCN trials, in which we are seeking to find ways to close the gap between Velum Prime (fluopyram) and Nemathorin (fosthiazate), will continue while we added further trials to test several novel treatments we believe hold potential. The variety trial will also be repeated to identify those with good resistance that hold commercial appeal. This will be in combination with nematicides to support an integrated policy. Our trials in 2022 investigated the performance of nematicides and variety resistance at a reasonably high-pressure site, but it is fast becoming clear that such locations are unsustainable. To understand, the contribution of nematicides and varietal resistance, sites with low to moderate populations have been found for 2023.

Other trials will investigate novel treatments for the control of wireworm, which for many, especially those with pre-pack contracts, represents a greater threat than PCN. Nutrition too is an area where practices can be improved, especially so in an era where losses are attracting the attention of the regulator and market prices mean application rates need to be optimised. To support growers with more precise application practices, we have trials investigating new sources of nitrogen and soil nitrogen sensors that give real-time data on how much is available to the crop. We will also repeat last year’s work investigating the potential of a cation complexing agent that is applied to the soil surface to improve the biological availability of phosphate.

TPP has enjoyed a great start and the work we do is of real benefit to growers. It has benefitted from having a clear purpose, members who understand the value of collaborative working and crop protection manufacturers willing to see their products independently tested.

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