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Reduced-tillage potato production looks good on yield and quality

The amount and quality of the potatoes coming off Chad Berry’s field last fall weren’t that much different from one side to the other, but one half came with a lot less tillage. Results are in from the 2020 field-scale trial in Canada’s Manitoba province, which created a side-by-side comparison of conventional spring tillage and direct-seeded potatoes, writes Alexis Stockford for Manitoba Co-operator.

It was Berry’s second effort on reduced-tillage potato management following a 2019 test planting into fall rye stubble. Berry, of Under the Hill Farms near Glenboro in Manitoba, hoped the practice would reduce wind erosion and hill damage.

Like many potato acres in Manitoba in 2019, however, those first acres went unharvested due to weather. This year, Berry tried again. The demonstration trial, in co-operation with Simplot Canada, direct seeded half of Berry’s field into canola stubble, while three soil probes were installed on each side of the field to measure soil compaction and moisture, among other metrics.

“It definitely helped with soil erosion,” Berry said. “It prevented any blowing.”

Scott Graham, agronomy raw development manager with Simplot Canada, and Vikram Bisht, a provincial agronomist called in as technical adviser for the project, flagged the 2020 results as positive.

There was no significant penalty in either yield or quality from direct planting, they found. Tuber gravity, disease and quality issues like hollow heart or sunburn, likewise, all showed no statistical difference between the two planting systems.

Simplot Canada plans to repeat the trial in 2021, with the same producer, Graham said.

Source: Manitoba Co-operator. Read the full article here
Photo: A modified, one-pass seeder and hilling system from Spudnik was key to Berry’s foray into direct-seeded potatoes. | Alexis Stockford

Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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