New potato technology saves growers thousands of dollars

Palmerston North 24 March 2009

Potato growers in North America, Australia and New Zealand are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in fertiliser and irrigation costs thanks to new technology developed by scientists at Plant & Food Research.

They have developed the potato calculator, a decision-support web-site that enables growers to optimise nitrogen and water use as well as predict yield and maturity dates. The calculator considers application schedules for nitrogen and water, highlighting deficits or unnecessary surpluses as well as resulting yield and is helping to take the guess work out of crop management Peter Roborgh told potato industry members attending the 7th World Potato Congress in Christchurch, New Zealand, today.

The calculator has been extensively trialled and is now being marketed by Plant & Food Research business unit, CropLogic. Peter Roborgh is CropLogic’s General Manager and says the calculator has received an excellent response from growers and processors alike.

“Growers appreciate accurate input into optimal application schedules for fertiliser and water as well as yield prediction,” he says. “Processors appreciate knowledge of crop size and the harvest dates for optimum quality and it helps with their planning in the factories.”

Mr Roborgh says the calculator helps to satisfy mounting consumer expectations that their food is grown in an environmentally accountable and sustainable way. Its accuracy in optimising production significantly reduces the potential for over-use of water and fertiliser.

The software underlying the calculator was developed by scientists at Plant & Food Research and it contains a simulation model that is based on a day by day understanding of how a potato crop grows and uses up soil supplies of water and nitrogen in response to daily local weather and other unique local factors. It guides the application of nitrogen and water to meet the optimal requirements of the crop while reducing the risk of nitrogen leaching.

For more information about the potato calculator:

Peter Roborgh
Plant &Food Research
Tel +64 3 325 6400
Fax +64 3 325 6541

Emma Timewell
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
Telephone: +64-9-925 8692
Mobile: +64-21-2429 365

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