North America, Pests and Diseases, Research, Smart Farming, Sustainability

Saving Michigan’s potatoes: Researchers investigate sustainable solutions to combat early die complex

Michigan, the nation’s leading producer of potatoes for potato chips, faces a threat from potato early die complex, a disease that affects up to 46,000 acres of crops annually, as Ashley Zhou reports in a news story published by Bridge Michigan.

The disease, caused by a symbiosis of root nematodes and a fungus, verticillium dahliae, leads to wilted potato leaves and can cost farms like Walther Farms up to $500 per acre.

Current treatments involve costly and environmentally damaging pesticides. The fumigants currently used are short-term treatments that produce a quick and beneficial return but may reduce soil quality over years of reapplication.

Michigan State University researchers, however, are trialing a blend of manure and compost as a more sustainable solution. Their previous research showed that a mix of chicken and cow manure with wood ash compost was effective in reducing the disease.

The new research aims to develop this into an affordable, reliable, and eco-friendly alternative to chemical treatments, rather than trying to eliminate the disease completely. While half of Walther Farms’ 8,000 acres are currently treated with pesticides, this new approach could offer a significant benefit to the potato industry and environment.

Source: Bridge Michigan. Read the full story here
Photo: Early die disease. Credit Luisa Parrado via Bridge Michigan

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