New research to tackle the growing scourge of Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) has been identified by a specialist Scottish Government working group. As Nancy Nicolson reports in The Courier, group member Professor Ian Toth of the James Hutton Institute told a meeting of the Scottish Society for Crop Research (SSCR) yesterday that an initial research programme costing £2.3m could begin within the next five years if funding is found.
The report, which has been submitted to the Scottish Government, will be published on the Plant Health Centre within the next two weeks.
PCN is currently costing growers £25 million annually in lost production, and scientists have predicted that if the pallida strain in particular continues unchecked it could lead to the end of Scotland’s valuable seed potato industry.
To preserve potato-growing land base for future generations, Professor Toth said the group’s recommendations included designating special status for land free of PCN, to afford farmers recognition for the condition of their land. He also suggested that those who owned this land could be eligible for incentives in future agricultural support systems.
Professor Toth said a national strategy for tackling PCN was required, along with an economic impact assessment to identify the consequences of no action. He also highlighted the need for better knowledge exchange and communications.
Source: The Courier. Read the full article here
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Cover photo: Prof Ian Toth | The Courier