Cutting edge DNA testing technology, novel approaches to pest and disease management, and exciting new plant nutrition applications – these are amongst the latest Research and Development (R&D) activities that will be presented on tomorrow at a Field Day organised by the AUSVEG Potato Industry Extension Program.

Over 50 members of the Victorian potato industry will attend the event, which is to be held on the property of a prominent seed potato grower in Bungaree, Victoria, east of Ballarat.

“The large number of people participating in this Field Day is a reflection of the commitment that exists within the Australian potato industry to learn more about emerging R&D that will help growers to boost their yields, crop quality, on-farm efficiency and ultimately, profits,” said AUSVEG Spokesperson Luke Raggatt.

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

“Leading interstate researchers will be on hand to discuss several industry R&D projects, while a number of local agronomists will also present on some key issues relevant to potato growers operating in the Ballarat area,” said Mr Raggatt.

Heading up the program of speakers is Dr Kathy Ophel Keller from the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), who will discuss a collaborative R&D project with the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) and the Department of Primary Industries Victoria (DPI Victoria), that has utilised advanced DNA testing technology to develop tests for pathogens which cause diseases in potato crops.

“Soil-borne diseases in potatoes cause losses of up to $50 million annually to the Australian processing potato industry, so these tests will have significant benefits for many potato growers,” said Mr Raggatt.

“The industry is looking forward to the tests becoming widely available later this year. Understanding the risks that pathogens in the soil pose to potato crops is a cost-effective way for growers to manage disease and make informed decisions prior to planting,” said Mr Raggatt.

Also presenting at the Field Day is TIA researcher, Dr Paul Walker, who will present on the management and monitoring of some major pests affecting potato crops; Senior Agronomist at Landmark (Bannockburn), Alistair Tippett, who will discuss the results from recent field trials on controlled-release nitrogen fertilisers; and HORTUS Agronomist (Victoria), Tom Farmer, who will speak about the importance of crop management.

The Potato Industry Extension Program aims to raise awareness of R&D outcomes amongst growers and processors, with a focus on how these can be used practically.

“The high level of interest in these kinds of industry R&D events shows that there is a real hunger within the Australian potato industry to learn more about new farming practices that will help strengthen potato growing operations, both now and in the years ahead,” said Mr Raggatt.

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

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