Planting a potato cyst nematode (PCN) trap crop can naturally reduce nematode numbers by up to 75%. One group of potato farmers have trialled whether they can be successfully established in the UK. As Emma Gillbard reports for Farmers Weekly, chemical methods that once effectively controlled the pest are dwindling – the latest loss being the mainstay nematicide Vydate – and growers are now looking at alternative biological control techniques.
Effective trap crop establishment could hold the key to a significant drop in PCN numbers and costing around 45% less than the use of a nematicide at £550/ha, the economics add up for potato farmers.
Trap crops aim to reduce overall PCN population numbers by deceiving nematodes into hatching by the release of chemicals from their roots, explains independent research agronomist Ivan Grove, who worked on the trials.
Working as part of an Innovative Farmers field lab in partnership with the AHDB, independent agronomy firm Optigro, and Produce Solutions, growers from north Shropshire and Lancashire put the theory to the test back in 2020.