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Irrigation


Potato

In terms of global production, potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is the fourth most important food crop after corn, rice and wheat. This crop is grown throughout the world. Present world production is some 321 million tons fresh tubers from 19.5 million ha.
Asia and Europe are the world's major potato producing regions, accounting for more than 80% of world production. China is now the biggest potato producer, and almost a third of all potatoes are harvested in China and India. North America was the clear leader in productivity, at more than 40 tons per hectare. Asian consumption represents almost half of the world's potato supply, but its huge population means that yearly consumption per person was a modest 25 kg in 2005. The heartiest potato eaters are Europeans. In Latin America and Africa consumption per capita is lowest, but increasing.


The potato plays a strong role in developing countries with its ability to provide nutritious food for the poor and hungry. The demand for potato is growing as both a fresh and processed food. The decreasing availability of land for area expansion means that yields will have to be improved. Critical to achieving improved tuber yields will be access to an adequate water supply, including more efficient use of scarce water and costly fertilizer inputs.

Potato is grown in about 100 countries under temperate, subtropical and tropical conditions. The potato is basically a crop of temperate climates. Yields are affected significantly by temperature and optimum mean daily temperatures are 18 to 20°C. In general a night temperature of below 15°C is required for tuber initiation. Optimum soil temperature for normal tuber growth is 15 to 18°C. Tuber growth is sharply inhibited when below 10°C and above 30°C. Cool conditions at planting lead to slow emergence which may extend the growing period. Tuber yield decreases with reduced sunshine hours per day. Potato varieties can be grouped into early (90 to 120 days), medium (120 to 150 days) and late varieties (150 to 180 days). Improved varieties include Russet Burbank, Desiree, Yukon Gold and Nicola, among others.

Potato requires a well-drained, well-aerated, porous soil with pH of 5 to 6. Compacted soils affect root penetration, water and nutrient uptake and tuber enlargement. The crop is moderately sensitive to soil salinity with yield decrease at different levels of ECe. ECe is the electrical conductivity of a saturated soil paste extract. The plant spacing is 0.75 m to 0.90 m between rows and 0.15 m to 0.3 m between plants under irrigated conditions, while sowing depth is generally 5 to 10 cm. Cultivation during the growing period must avoid damage to roots and tubers, and in temperate climates ridges are earthed-up to avoid greening of tubers.

Adoption of drip irrigation and fertigation in potato has proved to be technically feasible and economically viable and beneficial in many ways both in developed and developing regions of the world. Drip irrigation in many diverse agro-ecological situations registered higher yields (40 to 72 tons/ha) apart from saving in water (30 to 40%), fertilizer (20 to 25%) and improving quality of tubers (grade and composition) in comparison to conventional furrow, overhead and centre pivot sprinkler irrigation methods.

Under Turkey and Indian conditions drip irrigated potato registered 50 and 42 tons tubers/ha with an Net Present Value (NPV) of 2085 USD/ha and 2692 USD/ha respectively and a payback period of one year.
For high yields, the seasonal crop water requirements for a 70 to 150-day crop were estimated to be 150 to 750 mm under a range of climatic conditions and varying (70–180 days) length of growing seasons with a daily evapotranspiration rate of 4 to 5 mm/day. Irrigation scheduling using tensiometers enabled an efficient use of water, fertilizer and energy inputs.

Potato is a heavy feeder of nutrients. Its root system is shallow and fibrous, hence fertigation is recommended for higher nutrient availability and use efficiency. The aim of the fertigation program is to cover the difference between crop demand and supply. The nutrient requirements of drip irrigated potato are relatively high. Other best management practices include earthing-up, protection of crop from pests and diseases, need based weed management, harvesting and post harvesting operations to minimize losses.

USA: Development of irrigation best management practices for potato from an American research perspective

USA: Development of irrigation best management practices for potato from an American research perspective
See Chapter 4 - Drip irrigation in potato production systems

A summary of a literature review published in Sakia.org e-publish, 1: 1-20, 2006
Courtesy of Netafim University

Pereira, A. B. & Shock, C.C.
Oregon State University & Agricultural Experiment Station, Ontario, Oregon, USA

A comparison of sprinkler, surface drip, subsurface drip (SDI) and furrow irrigation in New Mexico showed that SDI with 20 kPa irrigation criterion was among the most productive irrigation system. In North Dakota a criterion of 30 kPa proved to be the best. The conventional irrigation system in Florida resulted in surface runoff and nutrient contamination of waterways. The SDI system required 36% less water to obtain the same potato yield. In Minnesota more water was required under sprinkler irrigation than either using surface or SDI drip, with the latter being the most productive systems for total and marketable yield. Tape depth or emitter spacing did not influence potato yield in Texas, but the proportion of misshaped tubers was greater when tape was buried at 0.2 m than when buried at shallower depths. Furthermore, it was found that tape placement above or below the seed piece performed better than intermediate or greater depths. In Oregon it was concluded that drip tape placement had a significant effect on every variable except marketable yield. It interacted with irrigation criterion in influencing total, marketable and US No. 2 yield. Best results were obtained when irrigating at threshold of 30 kPa.

All research results in several American states show that drip irrigation of potato, either surface or subsurface, was advantageous in obtaining greater potato yields and in saving water.

Key words: consumptive water use, drip irrigation, drip tape placement, furrow irrigation, potato, soil water potential (SWP), sprinkler, subsurface drip (SDI), surface drip, yield.

Geographic terms: United-States, Florida, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon-Ontario, Texas

Link to article:
http://www.vl-irrigation.org/cms/index.php?id=465&type=5 (See Chapter 4)

Lebanon: Management of nitrogen by fertigation of potato

A summary of a paper published in Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 67: 1-11, 2003 Courtesy of Netafim University

Darwish, T., Atallah, T., Hajhasan, S. & Chranek, A.
National Council for Scientific Research, CNRS, Beirut, Lebanon

Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is a temperate zone crop. It grows and yields well in cool humid climates or seasons, yet it is grown in most regions of the world. In Lebanon potato is one of the most popular cash crops planted on 14,800 hectares (17% of the total irrigated area), 67% of which is in the Bekaa Valley. There is special sensitivity to the amount of applied nitrogen fertilizer as access application may result in ground water contamination with NO3. The present experiment used the potato variety Spunta, which was planted in the Bekaa Valley in early May and harvested in late August.

The experiment included six treatments. A control treatment with no nitrogen added (N0); three treatments where nitrogen was applied by fertigation using drip irrigation: N1=240, N2=360 and N3=480 kg/ha in the first year and 120 kg/ha less in each of the treatments in the second year; two treatments where the middle level of N (N2) was added to the soil at the beginning of the season and irrigation was by drip and sprinkler (drip-soil and sprinkler-soil). The amount of water applied was based on the mean annual potential evapotranspiration. For drip irrigation, timing was based on a tensiometer reading of 350 to 400 mbar and irrigation by sprinklers was applied once a week. During the third year two treatments were applied in large plots: sprinkler irrigation applying 300 kg/ha N and 850 mm of water and fertigation by drip irrigation applying 125 kg/ha N and 490 mm of water. The irrigation water contained a small amount of N adding 43 to 97 kg/ha.
Considering tuber yield there were no significant differences among the treatments in the three years. The yield ranged from about 60 in treatment N1 to about 50 t/ha in treatment N0 and about 55 t/ha in treatments N2 and N3 during the first year. Yields were generally lower during the second year. During the third year the yield of the two treatments was similar (37.9 t/ha in the fertigation by drip treatment and 38.2 t/ha in the sprinkler irrigation treatment).

At physiological maturity (103 to 109 days after seeding) greater N recovery of the total crop N was found in the shoots of the drip-soil (54%) and sprinkler-soil (50%) than under fertigation (40%). The maximum removal of nutrient occurred during the first 60 days after emergence, thus most of the fertilizer N should be applied by fertigation in the early stages of growth in order to minimize losses and optimize translocation to the tubers. The crop of the N0 treatment removed 103 to 126 kg/ha N from the soil pool and 30 to 43 kg/ha N from the nitrogen added in the irrigation water. As more fertilizer was added the proportion of N taken up from soil pool decreased and more N (40 to 60%) was taken up from the added fertilizer and 20% from the irrigation water.

The concentration of nitrate in the soil solution below the main root zone was much higher (over 75 mg/L) under the sprinkler-soil treatment than under the drip-soil and fertigation by drip (25 to 30 mg/L) indicating substantially more deep seepage and N leaching under sprinkler irrigation. Thus, the amount of N leached below root zone was 3 kg/ha per season under drip and 55 kg/ha under sprinkler irrigation. Water consumptive use was 350 to 400 mm independent of treatment. Given that 850 mm was applied by sprinkler irrigation the water use efficiency (WUE) was 47%, and 322 mm was lost to deep seepage. Since only 490 mm was applied by drip irrigation the WUE of this method was 85% and the quantity of water leached was 40 to 50 mm.

Using fertigation by drip irrigation will result in the saving of nearly 50% of the water and over two thirds of the fertilizer used and will reduce the nitrate contamination of the ground water. The common practice of applying 450 kg/ha Nitrogen and 850 mm of irrigation water per season by sprinkler irrigation results in gross inefficiency.

Key words: drip irrigation, evapotranspiration (ET), fertigation, ground water contamination, leaching of nitrates, nitrate, nitrate contamination, nitrogen application, nitrogen fertilizer, nitrogen recovery, nutrient, physiological maturity, potato, root zone, sprinkler, water use efficiency, yield

Geographic terms: Lebanon, Bekaa Valley

Potato Success Story, China

Subsurface Drip Irrigation

China is the world’s largest potato producer, accounting for 22% of the global production. With increased potato production and domestic consumption, together with a gradual transition towards a market economy, China has significantly expanded its trade of potatoes and potato products in the past two decades.

Guyuan region in Hebei Province, central China, is dubbed as China's No. 1 potato production base and is characterized by arid climate and little access to traffic. 89% percent of its 1.5 million residents are farmers out of which some 116,000 are living in absolute poverty. Potato is planted here on 0.1 million ha with an output of 2 million tons. Guyuan presently has more than 2,000 potato processing companies, a number of wholesale markets and a potato shipping association to ensure timely delivery of fresh potatoes to 17 provinces, including Hong Kong and Macao as well as Taiwan and some European countries. By 2010, the Guyuan aims to increase its potato acreage and output to 0.2 million hectares and 4.5 million tons, respectively.

In 2008, 60% of China's farmlands are arid and farmers will earn a higher profit from growing potatoes than from wheat, corn, paddy rice and beans, according to Mr. Qu Dongyu, Director of the China Potato Committee. Therefore, new innovative sustainable technologies are needed not only for raising and sustaining the potato productivity per hectare but also for producing quality tubers using scarce and expensive resources such as water and fertilizer in order to meet both domestic demand (consumption per capita 32 kg) and processing industry needs and to be more competitive in the market.

Situation

  • Food and agro-industrial crop
  • Water scarcity
  • Inefficient use of water
  • Sandy loam soils
  • Leaching of nutrients
  • Low water and fertilizer use efficiency
  • Low tuber yields with lower quality


Why drip is needed?
The economic importance of potato in meeting food security and agro-industry demand. To conserve water, increase water and fertilizer use efficiency and optimize tuber yields.

Agro-industry name
Frito-Lay China

Farm details
Location: Frito-Lay Seed Potato Farm, Guyuan (36° 0' 1" N-latitude, 106° 28' 0" E-longitude), Hebei Province (180 Km south west of Beijing), China

  • Crop variety: Atlantic
  • Crop spacing: Row to row – 0.9 m and plant to plant – 0.15 m
  • Plant density: 74,074 plants/ha
  • Crop season: Sowing May 2006


Climate: Dry sub-humid climate, frost free
Rainfall: 521 mm/year
Reference crop evapotranspiration – 831 mm/year

Soil physical properties: Sandy
Soil pH: 6 to 7.5
Bulk density: 1.6 g/cm3
Water table: Below 6 m
Soil chemical properties: N (30 mg/kg), medium in P2O5  (6 mg/kg) and high in K2O (72 mg/kg)

Water source: Bore well
Power source: Electric pump

Agro-solution: What has been done?
Subsurface drip irrigation system (SDI):
Head control unit, main and sub-main pipes besides Super Typhoon dripline 16 mm diameter, with a lateral spacing of 0.9 m, emitter spacing of 0.3 m and emitter flow rate 1.1 Litres/hour. Each crop row was irrigated with one dripline installed 5 cm below the soil. Year of drip system installation: 2006

Agronomic and technical support:
Crop water requirement and irrigation scheduling: Depth and frequency of water application; water quality consideration and measurement of applied water.

Fertigation scheduling: Soil and water analysis, estimation of nutrient dose, selection of fertilizers and their compatibility, application skill via drip system, and foliar diagnosis for nutrient deficiencies.

System operation and maintenance: Pressure reading, valves operation, measurement of applied water. Cleaning of filters, fertilizer tank, acid treatment, chlorination, etc.

Training and capacity building: Soil water plant relationships, drip irrigation and fertigation principles, benefits, limitations and utility; water quality and herbicide usage.

Results
Improved tuber yield: Conventional centre pivot sprinkler irrigation - 42.0 tons/ha and with subsurface drip yield has increased by 16% (48.6 tons/ha).

Improved tuber quality: Reduction in sucrose and dextrose content by 45.8% and 136% in comparison to centre pivot sprinkler irrigation. Tuber composition favored by chips potato processing units.

Water requirement and saving: Conventional centre pivot sprinkler irrigation – 2400 m3/ha and with subsurface drip – 145 m3/ha. The water saving by using drip over centre pivot sprinkler is 40% or 950 m3/year/ha. As an illustration, the saved water can irrigate 0.65 ha.

Economic indices: Higher net returns by subsurface drip (918 US$/ha) in comparison to centre pivot sprinkler irrigation.

Additional benefits: Uniform tuber size and higher proportion of A-grade tubers, improvement in fertilizer use efficiency, management flexibility, less weed growth, and uniform irrigation of potato on undulated terrains.

Impact
Drip irrigation of potato in China is a feasible eco-technological and economically viable technology.
Use of scarce water resources, in a sustainable way, in potato cultivation to spread over a larger area.
Higher productivity, quality tubers, food security and increased income to farmers.
Farmers and processing units are willing to expand the drip irrigation to the remaining potato areas.
Potato best management practices: Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) and fertigation scheduling.

Grow More   16% tuber yield
With Less     40% water saving

Website of Netafim China (Chinese)

Potato Crop-based Training

Potato half-day seminar: Grow More with Less
Seminar code: potato-sem-1d-eng-v1

Date and Venue
This crop-oriented program is for demonstration purposes only. However, it may be revised to suit any date or any venue around the world.

Introduction
In terms of global production, potato is the fourth most important food crop after corn, rice and wheat. The crop is grown throughout the world. Present world production is some 321 million tons fresh tubers from 19.5 million ha.

The growing challenge for potato growers is to find ways to sustain higher tuber yield, improve water and nutrient use efficiency. Adoption of drip irrigation and fertigation in potato proved to be technically feasible and economically viable and beneficial in many ways both in developed and developing regions of the world.

Drip irrigation, invented by Netafim in 1965, is an acknowledged modern technique for achieving high efficiencies in water and nutrient use under an up-to-date sustainable agriculture.

The drip system is specifically designed to enable potato growers to use existing infrastructure; water sources and pumps. Drip system provides fast return on investment, reduces energy cost on pumping and provides a modern maintenance and management system.

Proven field experiments, conducted in cooperation with Netafim in several continents, revealed that drip irrigation improved plant water relations, nutrient uptake and thus to higher economic returns.

At Netafim we are committed to share our know-how and that's why we have created Netafim University. We aim to bring you our profound global and local experience as we believe that "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” (Benjamin Franklin)
This crop seminar provides you with more knowledge and less open questions in order to plan to grow more with less.

Seminar objectives
Upon completion of this seminar, participants will:

  1. Understand the benefits of drip irrigation for potato growers
  2. Be familiar with the "Netafim solution" for potato growers
  3. Recognize the economical benefits of Netafim's approach, highlighting efficient crop fertilization, uniformity of water usage, increase in tuber yield per hectare and decrease of environmental damage.
  4. Identify the first steps required in order to acquire additional information about drip irrigation.
     

Program

Who is this seminar targeting?
Farmers who grow potatoes in the region.

Lecturers and presenters

  1. Netafim guest expert
  2. Local Netafim representative
  3. Local dealer representative
  4. Local potato grower (host of venue)

Location
Potato farm

Language
English

Registration & cost
Participation in the seminar is free of charge.
The number of participants is limited. Please register in advance.

Transportation arrangements
According to location and needs of the participants.

Learning techniques & resources
Frontal lectures using audiovisual equipment, when possible.
Hardcopy of the key presentations will be distributed on-site.
Access to potato learning resources will be provided by lecturer.
Access to Netafim glossary.

Program
 

 

Opening

Gathering and registration

8:30 – 9:00

Greetings by your hosts

9:00 – 9:15

 

Lectures

Think globally, act economically!
Global changes and their effect on potato. It's not only about the price per hectare.

9:15 – 9:45

What happens when potatoes meet drip irrigation?
The benefits of drip irrigation to potato growers in comparison to traditional irrigation,
The main components of the Netafim solution for potato growers.

9:45 – 10:45

Questions & Answers

10:45 – 11:00

 

Break

Break. Light snacks will be served

11:00 – 11:15

 

Lectures

Potato success story brought to you by a local grower or regional dealer

11:15 – 11:45

What’s in it for me? Economical decision-making when considering drip irrigation

11:45 – 12:15

 

Workshop

Presentation of a drip system by familiarizing with few of its components in order to comply with the following saying: "Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.”
Confucius, Chinese philosopher and teacher (551-479 BC)

12:15 – 13:00

 

Closing

Seminar conclusion, practical advice and tips for the road.
Feedback forms

13:00 – 13:30

Potato Best Practices

Best Management Practices (BMPs) are the best recommended agronomic practices for growing a specified crop. These practices are based on research and experience and apply to potatoes under the specified agro-ecological conditions.
The recommended BMPs are not the only way to grow potatoes but are the best way determined by Netafim. The BMPs may change as additional proven research becomes available.

Agro-ecological situation
Climate
Conditions: Temperate, tropical and subtropical; cool season crop; day length: 12 hours
Saturation irradiance: 1200 E/m2/s PAR
Rainfall: 300 to 500 mm/annum
Relative humidity: 60 to 85%
Optimum ambient temperature: 14 to 24 °C

Soil
Soil suitability: Fertile, deep, well drained fine sandy to sandy loams
Optimum soil pH: 5.5 to 6.5
Available P: 35 mg/kg, Exchangeable K: 0.4 cmol/kg, exchangeable Ca: 1 – 2 cmol/kg, Exchangeable Mg: 0.4 cmol/kg
Organic carbon: 1.0 to 1.5
Soil bulk density: 1.3 – 1.4 Mg/m3 favor better root penetration and better tuber development and soil water air relations
Groundwater table: Below 2.0 m
Critical soil salinity level (ECe): 1.7 dS/m above which yield decreases
Soil to avoid: Waterlogged, alkaline and saline soils

Crop rotation
Three-year rotation adequate to check weeds, diseases and pests and avoids yield losses. Without proper rotation yield losses are up to 30% due to soil borne diseases.
The best rotational crops are cereal grains such as wheat and oats, corn, sugarcane, rice and forages.

Varieties
Several varieties with significant differences in size, shape, colour, texture, cooking characteristics and taste are available depending on the country.
Important varieties: Russet burbank, Nicola, Yukon Gold, Desiree.

Planting material
Healthy whole, cut or mini tubers

Spacing
Inter-row spacing: 0.60 to 0.91 m
Intra-row spacing: 0.15 to 0.45 m
Optimum plant density: 75000 to 133000 plants/ha

Seeding rates
Varies with cultivar, market, moisture, planting date, seed size, seed age and cost of production. Generally 1.5 to 3 tons/ha.
Seeding depth 5 to 10 cm.

Land preparation

  • Clod free seedbed with good tilth to express its tuber yield potential, SDI installation and optimal soil water air relations.
  • Destroy the hard pan if any using either chisel plough or a subsoiler.
  • Primary tillage by mould board plough or disc plough and secondary tillage by disc harrows, tyned harrows or rotavator to achieve proper tilth.
  • Broad bed (0.8 m to 1.5 m) and furrow (0.30 m) system.
  • Compost: 25 – 30 tons/ha
     

Planting for better stand, yield and quality
Poor plant stand registers low yield
Soil temperature at planting 3 – 16°C
Planting depth 5 – 10 cm

Weed control

  • Managing weeds is critical for successful potato production.
  • Weeds compete for light, water, nutrients, etc. and reduce tuber yields by 27% to 73% depending on the weed intensity.
  • Critical crop: Weed competition period is initial 4 – 6 weeks.
  • Integrated weed control program involving crop rotation, manual weeding, good seedbed preparation, soil solarization, maintenance of optimum plant population, mechanical intercultivation and herbicide chemical applications.
  • Recommended pre-mergence herbicides:
    Alachlor: 1.0 – 1.5 kg/ha & Metribuzin: 0.7 kg/ha
  • Recommended post-emergence herbicides:
    Parquat: 0.5 kg/ha & Propanil: 1.0 kg/ha

Irrigation system
Drip version: Surface or subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) combined with fertigation. Fertigation is the application of plant nutrients through an irrigation system, also known as NutrigationTM.

Drip product: Drip Net PC, Super typhoon, Drip Line 17009
Dripline spacing: 0.9 m for 1 lateral per each crop row and 1.8 m for 1 lateral per two crop rows
Emitter spacing: 0.30 m to 0.40 m
Emitter flow rate: 0.6 LPH, 1.0 LPH, 1.6 LPH and 2.0 LPH depending on soil texture

Crop water requirement & Irrigation scheduling
Estimate crop water requirements as a product of daily reference crop evapotranspiration by Penman-Monteith method and crop coefficient for a given day according to the plant developmental stages.

Begin with 0.5 Kc of daily ETo in the initial period, raise it to 0.8 at vegetative, stolonization and tuber initiation, 1.1 at tuber bulking and it decrease it to 0.7 at harvest period of potatoes.

Daily crop water requirement: 4 to 5 mm/day.
Seasonal crop water requirement: 150 to 700 mm under range of environments.

Irrigation scheduling: 30 cbars using tensiometers installed at 20 cm soil depth maximize tuber growth and grade and yield.

Fertigation
Apply mineral fertilizers based on the targeted yield, leaf analysis results, fertilizer experiment results, leaf deficiency symptoms, nutrient uptake, soil analysis results, and nutrient recycling.

Nutrient uptake:

  • 3 – 4 kg N
  • 1 – 1.5 kg P2O5
  • 4 – 6 kg K2O
  • 0.2 kg CaO per ton of tuber yield
  • 0.3 kg MgO per ton of tuber yield


Optimum leaf nutrient levels:

  • 10,000 – 15,000 ppm N
  • 0.17 – 0.22% P
  • 7.0 – 8.0% K
  • 0.15 – 0.30% Mg
  • 0.4 – 0.6% Ca
  • 0.15 – 0.20% S
  • 10 – 20 ppm B
  • 2 – 4 ppm Cu
  • 20 – 40 ppm Mn
  • 20 – 50 ppm Fe
  • 10 – 20 ppm Zn


Recommended nutrient dose per hectare:
80 to 120 kg N + 60 to 100 kg P2O5 + 250 to 400 kg K2O

For fertigation use water soluble fertilizers such as:

  • urea (46% N)
  • potassium nitrate (13% N & 46% K2O)
  • monoammonium phosphate (12% N & 61% P2O5)
  • ammonium nitrate (34% N)


Pests

  • Important pests include Colorado potato beetle, potato tuber moth, leafminor, and cyst nematodes.
  • Important diseases include late blight, bacterial wilt, potato black leg and other viruses.
  • Detect outbreaks and identify problem areas by conducting routine patrols. 
  • Monitor economic threshold levels and apply appropriate plant protection measures.
     

Physiological disorders

  • Internal brown spot: Irregular dry brown spots scattered through the flesh of tubers.
  • Black heart: Breakdown of internal tissues and become black. - Hollow heart: Irregular cavity in the centre of tuber.
  • Chilling injury: Discoloured blotches in the flesh of tubers.
  • Freezing injury:Blue-black discontinuous ring in the vascular region.
     

Harvesting

  • Maturity and harvest time are influenced by weather, market prospects and the labor situation.
  • Optimum maturity is reached when most of the tubers attain optimum size and the skin is set.
  • To ensure good skin-set, kill the vines using chemicals such as Gramoxone Extra applied at least 3 to 7 days before harvest.
  • Most potatoes are harvested mechanically with potato combines.
  • Harvest during dry periods.
  • Avoid bruising, skinning, or cutting the tubers during harvesting
  • After the harvest potatoes are hauled to the packing shed in bulk trucks, tubers are washed, sized and graded, then placed in bags or cartons for shipment.
     

Tuber yield
Under drip irrigation and fertigation a good commercial tuber yield is 50 – 60 tons/ha in spring and 35 – 50 tons/ha in autumn depending on length of growing season and variety.
Water utilization efficiency varies between 8 and 12 kg/m3.

FAQ'S

What kind of increased crop production can I expect from converting furrow irrigated potatoes to drip irrigation?
From our field experience in a range of environments it depends on variety used, climatic conditions, length of growing season, management capability, etc. As a rule-of-thumb tuber yields increase by 25 – 40% over traditional furrow irrigation besides 30 to 45% saving in water under timely planting, correct fertigation, weed control and other farming practices.
Why should I opt to irrigate my potatoes by drip?

The drip irrigation of potatoes proved itself to be technically feasible and economically viable over other methods of irrigation under range of environments. Besides increasing tuber yields, drip irrigation prevents tuber cracking and malformation as well as higher gravity of tubers and larger proportion of Grade A tubers. Drip technology also allows significant saving in water, labor and energy required for pumping this resource. It also prevents leaching Nitrogen below the root zone and found to improve fertilizer use efficiency. In the long run, financial analysis shows that drip is the most appropriate system for modern potato growing with higher economic returns.

Why have I got a poor potato plant stand?
A poor potato plant stand can be caused by several factors such as poor quality seed tubers, incorrect planting depths, poor quality irrigation water and incorrect germination irrigation management after planting.

What is potato scab and how can I control it?

Common scab of potatoes is a bacterial disease. Symptoms include tan to dark brown, rough-textured lesions on the tuber surface. Scab is typically introduced into the soil by infected tubers, and will survive indefinitely in the soil. Common scab is most severe in warm, quick-drying soils and increases through a pH range of 5.2 to 8.0. Scab is more of a problem in table potatoes than in processing potatoes, as scab lesions are restricted to the tuber surface and peeling removes the problem. Although scab cannot be eliminated incidence and severity can be reduced through a combination of practices. Among these practices: Avoiding introduction of scab into soil by planting scab-free or treated seed, rotating to other crops for 3-4 years between potato crops, avoiding susceptible crops in the rotation (root crops), green manuring (rye, millet, oat), maintain adequate soil moisture during the time of tuber formation and growth (tuber initiation starts 4-6 weeks after planting), and plant more resistant cultivars.
Should I use subsurface or surface drip system in potatoes?
Subsurface drip irrigation in potatoes raised on broad beds have shown to have many agro- technical advantages. Among them is the flexibility in recollecting the drip-line after every harvest cycle using a retrieval machine and protection of drip-lines from agro-machinery and harvesting machinery damage. Advantages also include the direct application of the water and the fertilizers to the root zone and using the crop agro-machinery without interfering with the day to day irrigation system protocols.
How much does a drip irrigation system cost per hectare of potatoes?
This is very variable and depends on the following three factors:

1. Conveyance of water from source to the filed as this is often the most expensive component of the irrigation system. It depends on the distance and elevation the water has to be conveyed by the pipelines.
 
2. The amount of water that we need to apply to meet the peak crop evapotranspiration requirements during the crop peak demand. This is a function of prevailing climate conditions, crop canopy cover and efficiency of the irrigation system.

3. Other considerations: The land topography (flat or undulated) of the design area; the soil texture which determines the emitter spacing, for example sandy soils require closer emitter spacing and clayey soil require wider emitter spacing that will have a significant impact on the system cost per unit area.

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