Potato Review

www.potatoreview.com POTATO REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2020 15 IRRIGATION Which irrigation method to choose? Irrigation equipment has to be capable of achieving consistently uniform applications across the di erent topographic nature of the elds used for growing potatoes. Mistakes can be costly in terms of quality and yield. No irrigation technology is perfect, so choice will always depend on personal circumstances, Andy said. “ e trick to trickle is getting it to the root, not o to the side of the crop in the furrow, so it is vital you the tape on the ridge, not in the furrow.” Placing tapes in the furrow to supposedly provide water for two rows, or to save costs of recovering the kit at harvest, can prove to be false economy. During trials looking at trickle placement, when they were placed in the furrow, the crops became stressed through lack of water and he had to instruct the growers to run a rain gun across the eld, he said. Nevertheless, when correctly set up, trickle is still the most e cient means of irrigation. Rain guns are cheap to set up, and can work well as long as it is not windy, but they need monitoring to ensure they are not overlapping and causing ponding. In some soils rain-guns can cause splash on salad crops, or move soil from the ridges and cause greening in potatoes, he adds. “It is often better to irrigate at night because there is less wind, and the crops will not transpire so fast either.” Booms can work well in large, regular-shaped elds, but in the UK elds tend to be odd shapes, with telegraph poles and trees making management di cult, Andy said. In addition, moving booms can be labour intensive and therefore very costly. e old system of standpipe sprinklers can also be water- e cient, but, like booms, moving them consumes labour. One of the other problems Mr Alexander has found over the years is that when someone has set-up a good system, they feel they need to use it, and they can go too far. “If too much water goes on the crop in one go, the K and N can move through the pro le, a ecting nutrient uptake, and therefore yield and quality. is highlights the need for accurate irrigation scheduling for crop quality and yield. “Using a combination of irrigation methods will help use water more e ciently and as water becomes a more precious commodity we are going to have to up our game on irrigation.” When correctly set up, trickle is still the most e cient means of irrigation, Andy stresses. Photo: Gary Naylor Connect your farm to ag-weather stations near you It’s particularly useful if we’re away ..., I can still log in and see what’s going on at home. I like the facility to look all the weather stations in the locality, because there are often huge disparity about the rain in very short distances. Ben Cannon East Hertfordshire sencrop.app/trial +44 116 350 0284 Create your own alerts to fight frost and diseases Real-time weather data from 2 network stations Analysis of historical local weather data 14-day free trial

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