Potatoes in Canada

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AAFC Plowdown Challenge asks P.E.I. farmers to make their best yield guess

October 16, 2023  By Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

What would happen if farmers grew potatoes only using the nitrogen leftover from the previously harvested crop? It’s a question Scott Anderson, science coordinator with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), and his team are looking to answer this fall.

Called the AAFC Plowdown Challenge, the goal is to educate the agriculture industry on the benefits of factoring in the previous crops’ leftover nitrogen to apply fertilizer more efficiently in potato crops.

The concept is simple: Anderson’s team planted the Mountain Gem potato variety on a field at the AAFC Harrington Research Farm, and farmers are encouraged to guess what the yield will be after harvest and grading later this fall. But. there’s a catch – the varieties have been grown without the use of fertilizer. The field was planted with red clover last summer with a cover crop of barley and tillage radish planted last fall. While they don’t expect farmers to stop using fertilizer altogether, Anderson and his team are trying to demonstrate how much yield they can actually achieve by just using nutrients in the soil from a properly managed previous crop.


P.E.I. farmers may be surprised with the yield results.

“We could be on to something here,” says Anderson. “The crop is looking almost as good as a crop grown with traditional fertilizer. I’m looking forward to seeing the range of guesses from local farmers. I hope this will help our pursuit to use fertilizer most efficiently for the crop and for the environment.”

Farmers can send their guesses by email at scott.anderson@agr.gc.ca or through Twitter at @peiscooter.

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