Kings attended Potatoes in Practice this month, the UK's largest field-based potato event. Held at The James Hutton Institute's Balruddery Farm in Dundee, our team were delighted to be attending for a third year.
The event comprised demonstrations of both varieties and machinery, highlighted innovative research and was a great platform for industry leaders to share expertise and spark insightful debate.
Stationed on the Kings' demonstration plots, it was clear to me that interest in the use of specifically-bred radish varieties to help control various soil borne pest issues had grown over the years. Across the day, there was a lot of discussion about the benefits and practicalities involved.
Research and development
To understand how we can integrate these multi-resistant radish species into different rotations and assist integrated pest management (IPM), the Kings team has invested a large amount of time with trusted seed breeders in Holland and Germany.
The use of these products is a science and the intensive, weekly evaluation of their performance is critical to help benchmark against nematode resistance. It's also crucial for helping to evaluate any new varieties which are working through the approximate 15-year development stage before becoming available to the grower.
It tends to focus the mind when you remember that this concept is still relatively new in the UK. The first multi-resistant radish varieties became available to German and Dutch farms around 1978.
Careful choice of the different radish varieties is critical and can only be effective when matched to a very detailed testing programme to identify the nematode species and numbers found in various soil systems.
The growing and management of these crops must not be taken lightly. A detailed understanding of the management plan, long before the crop goes into the ground, is critical for the most effective performance. Rarely when soil is tested do we find only one species of nematode - intensively farmed soils used for sugar beet, potatoes, carrots and conventional arable crops will have a collection of beet cyst nematode (BCN) , potato cyst nematode (PCN) and free living nematode (FLN) issues.
To an extent, seed mixes can add complications to the effectiveness and control of various nematode species. However, through careful choice, they can be successfully used within the EFA catch and cover crop requirements as part of greening.
Taking the appropriate time and effort to help reduce these pest challenges can prove very worthwhile, supporting with increased crop output and more control over the financial return of your farm.
If you would like to know more about integrating this type of management plan to combat soil borne pest species, speak to our team for further information and advice.