Increasing potato yield with recycled organic wastes

Title of Experiments: Increasing potato yield with recycled organic wastes

Planted: May 2011 and May 2013

Contact: Dr Paula Roberts

Company Partner: Sarvari Research Trust, Tyddyn Môn, Penhesgyn Composting Facility

Funding: Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (MRes Access to Masters Scholarships)

Location: Henfaes Research Centre (Figure 1)

Experimental Aims

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of PAS 100 food waste derived compost in potato production
  • Determine whether compost application on potatoes affects
  • Yield,
  • Dry matter content, and
  • Overall quality of potatoes

 


Figure 1. Location of potato field trials (Google maps 2013)


Brief Description

Recent changes in the way we treat organic household waste has meant that waste management companies are producing large quantities of good quality composts. With correct use and application, this can have a valuable role in crop production, potentially reducing the need for inorganic fertilisers and adding organic matter to soils. This project was designed to have two separate outcomes:

  1. To provide data for potato growers on the effects of compost on yield and quality of the crop
  2. To develop information for compost producers on the potential applications for their product that will assist in marketing good quality compost to large-scale growers

In 2011, we monitored the growth responses of an organic potato (Blue Danube) planted in a very sandy soil to which compost was added at various application rates. Blue Danube can be marketed as a salad potato and we were particularly interested in seeing if the skin finish and overall appearance of the potato could be improved by growing them in an organic matter-rich medium. Initial results suggested that skin finish wasn’t particularly improved but that the dry matter of the potato did change significantly. There was some effect of compost on the intensity of blight damage but this needs further investigation (Figure 2). In 2013, we moved on to a more commercial potato species (Maris Piper), specifically to look at yield and dry matter responses and this work is currently on-going (Figures 3 and 4).



Figure 2. Potato trial plots, 2011


Figure 3. Potato trial plots prior to planting, 2013


Figure 4. Potato trial prior to harvesting, 2013