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Increasing potato production


June 21, 2010
By Fruit & Vegetable

Topics

potatoes02June 21, 2010, Madison, WI
– Despite sophisticated nutrient management of potato crops, quality and yield
still see wide variability. Although nutrients are already well understood, the
influence of other environmental factors remains understudied.

June 21, 2010, Madison, WI
– Despite sophisticated nutrient management of potato crops, quality and yield
still see wide variability. Although nutrients are already well understood, the
influence of other environmental factors remains understudied.

A research team from
Michigan State University conducted a study to determine how the chemical and
physical properties of soil, along with the light waves the plant absorbs and
reflects, affect potato yield and variability. These findings were integrated
with known factors to provide a more complete understand of the influences on
potato growth.

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potatoes02 
  

Sieglinde  Snapp and Alexandra Kravchenko from
Michigan State University, and Edgar Po from the University of Missouri
reported their findings in the May-June 2010 Agronomy Journal, published by the
American Society of Agronomy. Measured across many different soil chemical and
physical properties, they found that soil structure was a significant variable
that contributed to positive potato yield across coarse-textured commercial
field sites.

The study demonstrated the
need to supplement monitoring of soil chemical properties, which is a common
practice, with data on soil structure and spectral profiles. Soil structure
improvement requires dedicated management, but stable soil particle size and
its stability in water was a sensitive predictor of field-level variability in
potato tuber yield.

This research indicates
the potential for considerable long-term benefits from understanding and improving
soil biophysical characteristics. Supplementing traditional soil sampling with
spectral measurement provided a detailed image of how the potato crop
interacted with its environment. This method allowed researchers to notice
differences in growth and development of the potato crop due to changes in
planting dates, as well as precipitation patterns.

The study was conducted on
potato, but the authors noted that the methodology appears to be widely
applicable. By expanding and meeting the immediate nutritional requirements of
the crop, farmers and other agricultural producers should be able to achieve
higher yields.

View the abstract at
http://agron.scijournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/102/3/885.