Cultivation/Production, Europe, UK, Ireland, Events, Research, Smart Farming

Future-focused farming: Potato growing insights and innovations from The Hutton Institute on display at Arable Scotland

Farmers heading to Arable Scotland on 2 July are in for a technical treat, with practical advice and debates on the way forward for the sector, writes Alison Karley in an article published by The Scottish Farmer here. Alison is an agroecologist with over 25 years’ experience in plant production and ecology, leading the ‘Integrated Cropping Systems’ team within the Agroecology Group at the James Hutton Institute.

Alison Karley

During Arable Scotland, “we will have our field plots on show, and a tour of our Centre for Sustainable Cropping, where we will demonstrate arable crops grown using reduced inputs and cultivation, and more plant diversity,” says Alison. Farmers can see the results of crops using reduced mineral nitrogen inputs, replaced by recycled compost waste and nitrogen-fixing legumes.

For the potato crop, Alison’s team has deployed the Hutton criteria decision support tool ‘BlightSpy’, which only sprays for blight when conditions dictate. Running the crop like this, as opposed to spraying at regular intervals, has cut one or two sprays per year.

Alison’s team is also testing if companion crops (buckwheat, vetch, bean, pea mix sown behind the potato planter) can delay potato aphid infestation by distracting them from finding potato plants.

On display will be demonstrations of cover crop effects on soil and nutrient erosion, and also how different cover crop species such as oat, pea, bean and ryegrass can be established after each crop in the rotation to maximise the benefits of soil cover while avoiding disease carry-over.

Source: The Scottish Farmer. Read the full article here
Alison Karley –
Image: Credit Jeyaratnam Caniceus from Pixabay

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