The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has announced the crop trials taking place at its four Strategic Potato (SPot) Farms during 2021.

The four farms are located in Angus, North Lincolnshire, Herefordshire and Suffolk.

The trials have been agreed on by a local working group of growers, agronomists and buyers with input from AHDB scientists on the latest information from research projects.

This year each of the farms has selected at least one project aimed at protecting their crop from pests and/or disease and another focused on improving the quality of their soil.

Head of arable knowledge exchange at AHDB, Richard Meredith said: "These trials are a great way for growers to pick the items from our research programme that are most relevant to the challenges they face and try them out locally.

We are hoping to host events at the SPot farms again this year, so growers and agronomists can come and see the trials in action.

"We are facing a period of unprecedented change for our industry and there will be challenges ahead as growers strive for excellence.

"In light of these challenges, we are proud of the impact that the AHDB SPot Farm network has on driving the industry forward."

Testing innovative practices

Will Gagg, farm manager at RJ and AE Godfrey AHDB’s SPot Farm North, said: "The SPot Farm programme is an excellent way to test and demonstrate innovative practices in a commercial setting.

I wanted to choose a trials programme for 2021 that would improve our business and hope that other growers benefit from what we learn along the way

On the SPot Farm sites around Britain, crop protection trial topics include aphid control, potato cyst nematode (PCN) management and blight monitoring.

Soil health trials will tackle subjects from cover crops to compaction.

The AHDB has said that that 2021 events and meetings at SPot Farms will be confirmed after the result of a vote on the continuation of a statutory levy.

The ballot on the future of the statutory levy closes at midnight on March 17.