Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Should potato crops be hardened up so they root deeper?

On August 18th SPot Farm West, James Daw’s farm, welcomed two specialist groups. 

Morning saw the ‘Next Generation’ and the afternoon welcomed the Independent Potato Agronomists. 
Facetious AHDB staff commented on the considerable difference between the average age in the morning and that of the afternoon.

Both youth and experience however, asked the same questions to Mark Stalham of NIAB CUF who was discussing irrigation:

Monday, 15 August 2016

Cover crops as drying agents - a happy accident!

We like stories of discoveries made by accident, with penicillin a prime example. 

The use of cover crops for making soil easier to cultivate isn’t a completely new idea, and it hardly comes into the penicillin category, but it was a striking finding at SPot Farm West this year which could benefit many growers.

The aim of the cover crop trial, as planned by Marc Allison of NIAB-CUF and host-farmer James Daw, was to see what reduction in nitrogen fertiliser should be made when cover crops or manure applications are made. There is a risk that manure or an incorporated cover crop could lead to excess nitrogen (N) take-up by the subsequent potato crop. 

The finding that a live cover crop at ploughing made the ground easier for all cultivations was incidental.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Didn’t they do well… now it’s your turn!

Hi there, good of you to pop by.  With this season’s activities well under way thanks to the united efforts of Messrs Burgess, Francis, Stalham and Tomalin earlier in the year, thoughts are turning to what might be showcased next season at SPot Farm East.   This is where you come in, what would YOU, yes YOU guys and gals, want to see at SPot Farm East and talk about on twitter in 2017… in relation to potatoes of course!!

This year we showcased at SPot Farm

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The whole system approach to chitting maincrop at SPot Farm West 2016

The decision to compare chitted versus unchitted seed, in Markies and Pentland Dell, developed from a conversation between James Daw and Matt Smallwood of McCain Foods last year.

James and Matt saw chitting as offering some insurance against bad weather. 

If spring is late or autumn early, especially in relatively clayey soils, late maturing varieties are likely to be harvested in difficult conditions. 

All varieties of course have their own characteristics and respond in different ways to production processes. 

For these varieties, some considerations in particular are that Markies require a long bulking period (>120 days), followed by skin setting, and Pentland Dell can’t be planted into cold seed beds to protect against little potato disorder. 

So marketable yields in both these varieties may potentially be reduced by a relatively short growing season, making them well-suited to test potential benefits from chitting.

James Daw was also hoping to increase total yield beyond what could be achieved from unchitted seed even if the season proved to be a good long one.

Our understanding of chitting 

The principles of chitting have been understood for many years. 

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Your feedback on a successful 'SPot Farm Super Tuesday' in the sunshine in Staffordshire

We've reached the end of our series of SPot Farm 'Super Tuesdays' this month culminating with the Open Day at SPot Farm West in Staffordshire. 

The event took place in the blazing sun on Tuesday 19 July with presentations at six field-based demonstrations sites and two topics indoors under some much-welcomed shelter.