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Idaho family farming operation invests in soil probiotic technology for organic potato production

Like many small family farms, Eli and Jarom Hubbard, owners of Hubbard Ranch in Grace, Idaho, transitioned to growing organically last year in an effort to provide more sustainably grown food to their customers. But with less than favorable results in their first season, mainly due to weather, they knew they needed to make cost-effective adjustments. 

According to the brothers, “weed control, losing yield and maintaining a good amount of organic matter, beneficial fungal and bacterial life in the soil were problems faced in the past”.

In year two of growing potatoes organically, they decided to look into using products that would increase the natural biology in the soil and prevent yield loss. They had never previously used a microbial product, and it was recommended that they try Rhizolizer® Duo Organic, a microbial soil amendment from Locus AG. The award-winning treatments have proven to accelerate nutrient uptake, increase root growth and boost yields.

The brothers worked closely with a Locus AG rep to coordinate a variety of field trials and analyze all results. Initial treatments were started in May 2020 on plantings of seven different organic potato varieties over 30 acres grown for either seed or the fresh market. Rhizolizer Duo Organic was used at both a 12 fl oz/acre and 9 fl oz/acre rate, and applied with a microbial food source. These plots were compared to an untreated standard grower’s practice block for each varietal in full row side-by-side comparisons.

Full row of Queen Anne organic potatoes
using the Hubbard’s standard growing practices
compared to a full row treated with
Rhizolizer Duo. Locus AG photo

The results were extremely positive, with some full row comparisons showing almost double the harvest of the standard growing practice rows. “We definitely saw higher yields with Rhizolizer Duo along with what seemed to be a more uniform harvest—tubers of similar size and distinction, less abnormally shaped tubers”, the Hubbard brothers said. “We saw a larger set overall across all varieties. Down the road looking at size and brix will also be of interest.”

The brothers plan to use Rhizolizer Duo at the higher 12 fl oz/acre rate next year. “Rhizolizer Duo has helped us have more product and better-quality potatoes to sell to our consumers. Higher tuber set and yields overall means more tubers to sell and thus a higher ROI for us.” 

Source: Locus AG. Contact the company for more information on Rhizolizer Duo, or to start a customized potato program.
Cover photo: Eli Hubbard with his family at Hubbard Ranch

Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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