Cultivation/Production, North America, Smart Farming, Sustainability, Trends

Sustainable spuds: Making regenerative ag work in potato production

One American spud grower says regenerative agriculture is the tool of choice in his quest to reverse soil degradation, as Don Norman reports in this article published by Manitoba Co-operator.

“I’ve been told constantly that potatoes are so hard on the soil; they destroy the soil; there’s no life in soil when you’re growing potatoes. I would disagree,” said Brendon Rockey, operator of Rockey Colorado Farm in Centre, Colo.

Rockey is pioneering regenerative agriculture practices to combat soil degradation and water scarcity. He’s introduced diverse crop rotations and multi-species cover crops, significantly reducing irrigation needs and improving soil health. Rockey’s methods also include collaborating with local livestock producers and innovative pest management, focusing on encouraging beneficial insects.

This shift towards sustainable practices is gaining momentum as large potato processors like McCain Foods and PepsiCo now require their suppliers to adopt regenerative methods by 2030.

Manitoba potato farmers are exploring similar paths, with trials and adaptations in their farming techniques to meet these new industry standards. A number of local potato producers have undertaken sustainability efforts. In 2020, Chad Berry of Under the Hill Farms near Cypress River, Man., ran a demonstration trial in partnership with J.R. Simplot Canada to incorporate direct seeding. The goal was to mitigate erosion.

Source: Manitoba Co-operator. Read the full story here
Photo: “I’m able to maintain my yields, I’m able to reduce my cost of production and I’m able to improve the quality of my crop. That’s a winning scenario.” Brendon Rockey, Rockey Colorado Farm. Credit Don Norman.

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