In a recent discussion at Groundswell, agronomist Ed Brown, head of agroecology at Hutchinson’s in the UK, and East Shropshire grower John Bubb showcased the potential of growing potatoes regeneratively, focusing on good soil analysis and careful management.
In an article published by Farmers Guide, it is said that this approach aims to reduce inputs while maintaining quality yields. Bubb, trading as J M Bubb & Son, cultivates 400 acres of potatoes for McCain on a sandy loam soil, part of a 2,000-acre farm that includes wheat and oilseed rape. He also runs Shropshire Petals, a flower drying business.
A key strategy in their regenerative approach is the use of diverse cover crops, including linseed, buckwheat, phacelia, vetch, clover, and oats, strategically placed in the crop rotation. These cover crops enhance soil health, reduce the need for deep cultivations, and improve nutrient cycling. Ian Robertson of Sustainable Soil Management emphasizes the importance of soil testing in this process, allowing for more informed nutrient management and reduced chemical additives.
Pest control is also a focus, with efforts to revert to older methods like re-ridging and reducing reliance on routine blight spray programs. Plant diversity, both in crop rotation and within fields, is a crucial element of their strategy. Bubb also uses living mulches, like clover, to enrich the soil.