The economic and environmental costs associated with irrigating 440ha of potatoes at AHDB’s Strategic Potato (Spot) Farm North in the UK prompted a rethink on the best way to maintain product quality in the face of an increasingly unpredictable climate, according to a report published by Farmers Weekly.
Keen to bring those costs down and prepare for the future, the existing irrigation system, based on diesel engines and guns, was torn apart and replaced, recalls farm manager Will Gagg of RJ & AE Godfrey in North Lincolnshire.
As a result, the operating costs of the new system are now running at almost half what they used to be.
Water use hasn’t increased, but crop quality has improved – something that is a priority for a business supplying the packing market, where skin finish is paramount.
“It wasn’t cheap,” admits Mr Gagg. “The business invested £350,000 in a 9,500m underground main, along with new reels, booms and pumping system.” Only two diesel engines remain, the rest are electric.