Growing Futures

Reducing inputs in potato production

Reducing inputs in potato production

Online tool allows growers to optimise nitrogen and water use and maximise efficiency

Potatoes are the fourth largest crop in the world, with a global production of around 374 million tonnes. Growers must irrigate and add fertilisers to gain the best from their crop, but over-application of either water or nitrogen does not only affect the economic sustainability of the farm but also the environment, as excessive water can leach nitrogen into the soil and surrounding waterways.

The Potato Calculator is a decision support tool that allows growers to predict the yield and maturity of their crop based on scenarios of varied water and nitrogen regimes. This allows the grower to schedule irrigation and fertiliser applications for optimal yield, increasing efficiency and reducing crop damage and leaching caused by over-watering. It also allows growers to make the most economically viable decisions when water availability is reduced, providing a means to compare and contrast different scenarios.

Processors can use data from the tool to predict expected yield and harvest time to manage factory schedules appropriately.

The Potato Calculator has been commercialised through CropLogic™, a company spun out of Plant & Food Research in 2010. The Potato Calculator has been adapted for, and is used by growers in, New Zealand, Australian and American potato growing regions, countries producing 6% of the global potato crop. Plans are underway to trial the calculator in China and Europe, and to investigate the tool’s potential for other crops.

Created: September 2013

Share this impact case study: