Could you come up with the next diquat alternative?

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is inviting researchers to tender for a new project to understand alternative burn-off methods after diquat is lost in 2020.

The loss of approval for diquat has wide ramifications, since it is currently the main product used by potato growers to desiccate crops.

Joe Martin, crop protection senior scientist for AHDB, said: “This research will be closely aligned with our knowledge exchange programme and trials will be carried out across our Strategic Potato (SPot) farm network.

“We are now requesting tenders for scientific coordination and trial implementation at a number of our sites. It may be that one organisation may tender for any part or the whole of this research, this can be split into research area or by region.”

Research

This topic was introduced at SPot North in 2018, where Graham Tomalin of VCS Agronomy (pictured top) carried out work at Somerby Top Farm in Brigg, North Lincolnshire.

The demonstration included 13 treatments (including two flail treatments) applied to 26 varieties of potato. These plots attracted avid interest at SPot North events over the 2018 season.

This year, fully replicated experiments will involve treatments applied in challenging situations, such as the early desiccation of a seed crop of the indeterminate variety Markies.

Assessments will tease out the effect of different treatments on time to skin set, the occurrence of diseases such as black dot, and extent of passive bulking following treatment.

Alistair Redpath, chief executive for Cygnet Potato Breeders Ltd and chairman of AHDB’s Research and Knowledge Exchange committee, said: “This is a welcome move for the potato industry.

“The loss of diquat has had a major impact on both seed and ware growers, and with this research, we can now hope to learn more about available desiccants and optimal burn-down strategies and keep producing good quality potatoes.”

Applications can be made on the AHDB website.