Leading industry researchers will team-up with local Victorian agronomists at a Field Day event next month, to help raise awareness amongst potato growers and processors about key research and development (R&D) activities currently being undertaken within the Australian potato industry.

To be hosted on the property of a prominent potato grower in Bungaree, Victoria on 27 February, the event will kick off 2013 activities for the AUSVEG Potato Extension Program, following a successful first year for the program in 2012.

“The upcoming Field Day event in Bungaree will provide members of the Victorian potato industry with a terrific opportunity to hear about and discuss the latest industry R&D activities and outcomes in a highly practical environment,” said AUSVEG Spokesperson, Luke Raggatt.

AUSVEG is the National Peak Industry Body representing Australia’s 2,000 potato growers.

“Interstate-based researchers will join the event to present on several significant R&D projects and to outline how the outcomes of these can be utilised practically,” said Mr Raggatt.

Dr Kathy Ophel Keller, from the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), will discuss the development of a DNA testing service for soil-borne pathogens – which is part of the broader Australian Potato Research Program Phase 2 (APRP2).

“This research project has been widely praised across the Australian potato industry for the significant benefits the DNA testing service will deliver, by helping growers to manage and reduce the risk of soil-borne diseases developing in their potato plants,” said Mr Raggatt.

“With aspects of this valuable project set to move into the commercial roll-out phase this year, it is an ideal time for growers and processors to hear about how they can benefit from adopting this research in their potato operations.”

Dr Paul Walker, from the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA), will also attend the event to present on two R&D projects he is currently involved with relating to pest management and monitoring.

“Dr Walker has been investigating ways to improve the management of a major pest of several crops in Australia, the White-fringed weevil, and monitoring for incursions of the Tomato-potato psyllid, a pest which has proven devastating for several potato industries overseas. Dr Walker’s presentation will be extremely relevant to potato growers operating in Victoria,” said Mr Raggatt.

Senior Agronomist at Landmark (Bannockburn), Alistair Tippett, will also be in attendance to discuss the results from recent field trials on controlled-release nitrogen fertilisers; while HORTUS Agronomist (Victoria), Tom Farmer, will speak about the importance of monitoring plant and soil health in potatoes.

“With an ‘all-star’ team of industry R&D experts presenting, this event will ensure that local potato growers and processors are aware of the R&D that is happening in the industry, and how this can be used to maximise the yield, efficiency and profitability of their potato operations,” said Mr Raggatt.

Phone: (03) 9822 0388, Mobile: 0403 827 822, Email: luke.raggatt@ausveg.com.au

This communication has been funded by HAL using the National Potato Levy and matched funds from the Australian Government.