Evaluation of potato production best management practices

Research paper by Bryan G. Hopkins, Donald A. Horneck, Mark J. Pavek, Brad D. Geary, Nora L. Olsen, Jason W. Ellsworth, George D. Newberry, Jeff S. Miller, Robert E. Thornton, Gale W. Harding

Indexed on: 01 Jan '07Published on: 01 Jan '07Published in: American Journal of Potato Research


A 2001 survey indicated that many growers are reluctant to adopt research-based recommendations because of a perception that it is not practical or applicable to their specific farming operation. Other growers, however, appear to adopt these practices successfully. Highlighting “model” growers is a method that can be used to field-test research findings and facilitate grower adoption. The objectives of this project were to: 1) establish field demonstrations with potato (Solariumtuberosum L.) growers who generally follow researchbased best management practices (BMPs); 2) establish plots within each field to compare BMPs with a high input, maximum yield management (MYM) approach; and 3) enhance grower confidence regarding researchbased BMPs. Fourteen field trials were conducted in the Pacific Northwest during 2002-2005. Five replicates of BMP and MYM plots were established in each field. The BMPs consisted of sampling, scouting, and use of prediction models to aid in determining rate and timing of inputs to maximize returns. In contrast, the MYM approach was based on tradition and calendar timing, with a near zero tolerance for pest and nutrient limitations. The MYM plots had 1.7 to 13.2% more fertilizer and pesticide costs than the BMP plots. The MYM treatments resulted in significant marketable yield increases in three fields and decreases in two fields, with the remaining nine fields and the combined average of all 14 fields being statistically equivalent. When factoring in estimated costs, only two fields resulted in a monetary advantage with MYM treatment. In contrast, the BMP treatment resulted in significant increases in net crop value in five fields, as well as the combined average of all 14 fields ($200 ha-1 or 3.2%). These field demonstrations, along with associated field days and grower meetings, have resulted in many documented changes in grower practices towards BMPs, with many more undocumented changes probable.