May 25, 2023 By Potatoes in Canada
A survey from the P.E.I. Potato Board shows that the acreage of cover crops grown before potatoes has doubled in the province, meaning more green in potato fields across P.E.I. in the months outside the traditional growing season.
As reported by potatopro.com, this is due to potato growers turning to cover crops as a way to make their soil healthier — and generate some extra cash. Researchers with the P.E.I. Potato Board have been tracking the adoption level of cover crops for the last few years, and the numbers are substantial.
Ryan Barrett, research and agronomy specialist at the Potato Board, says there has been an increase in cover crop acres in the province.
“The last few years, we’ve really seen that number jump, so we’re up to over 50 per cent of the acres that had potatoes in them last year had a cover crop in them from our survey,” he says. “About 50 per cent of the acres that are going into potatoes this year also had a cover crop last year. And, that’s a big change from what it used to be. Now, we have a lot of fields that are staying green into the fall.”
Some of the cover crops, Barrett says, die off over the winter and then the field is ready for potatoes the next year. He calls it a “win-win.”
“From our research, we’ve been able to see that there is an associated yield benefit the next year. We actually saw somewhere on a 10 per cent yield improvement,” says Barrett. “That’s because the cover crop is holding nitrogen, holding nutrients over for the next year that may have previously been lost.”
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