In a groundbreaking initiative, Scott Anderson of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) on Canada’s Prince Edward Island (PEI) is leading a team to explore the potential of growing potatoes using only the residual nitrogen from previous crops.
This initiative, dubbed the #AAFCPlowdownChallenge, aims to enlighten the agricultural community about the advantages of utilizing the leftover nitrogen from preceding crops to enhance the efficiency of fertilizer application in potato farming.
The methodology is straightforward. Anderson’s team sowed the Mountain Gem potato variety in a field at the AAFC Harrington Research Farm near Charlottetown on PEI. As part of the challenge, farmers are invited to predict the yield that will be obtained post-harvest and grading later this season.
While this might sound like a routine farming activity, there’s a twist.
These potato varieties have been cultivated without the aid of any fertilizers. The field had previously been planted with red clover during the summer, followed by a cover crop of barley and tillage radish in the fall.
The objective isn’t to persuade farmers to abandon fertilizers entirely but to showcase the potential yield achievable by solely relying on the nutrients present in the soil, courtesy of a well-managed preceding crop.
Farmers from Prince Edward Island might be in for a revelation when the yield results are announced, according to Scott.
He expressed his optimism, stating, “We could be on to something here. The crop is looking almost as good as a crop grown with traditional fertilizer. I’m looking forward to seeing the range of guesses from local farmers. I hope this will help our pursuit to use fertilizer most efficiently for the crop and for the environment.”
Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)
Photo: #AAFCPlowdownChallenge potato field at the AAFC Harrington Research Farm. Credit AAFC