Innovative Farmers, a not for profit membership network for farmers and growers in the UK, reports on a ‘field lab’ that explores the practice of establishing trap crops to control potato cyst nematode (PCN) – the UK’s primary potato pest.
The group says in a recent news release that potato cyst nematode is one of the main threats to potato production and sustainability in Britain. Currently, the main control option is to use nematicides hazardous to operators and the environment, which only prevent one season’s crop yield and do not prevent PCN increase.
Innovative Farmers says an alternative cultural control method is the use of trap crops, which limit nematode multiplication and reduce existing soil PCN populations.
The group will trial solanum sisymbrifolium (sticky nightshade) and solanum scabrum (African nightshade), both which show good promise but lack clear establishment guidelines; only around 100Ha of solanum sisymbrifolium is currently grown in the UK. The trap crops will be grown between between two normal cash crop harvest and planting dates to prevent loss of the cash crop in the rotation.
The group may develop the work further in 2021 to include investigation on the effect on PCN and other measurements.