Improving potato quality and yield with microbial inputs

A potentially important part of the professional grower’s plant production programme is the use of beneficial microbes and microbial biostimulants, which are likely to become increasingly employed within field grown vegetables, as farmers look for alternative ways to boost yields and quality with a more limited ‘toolbox’.

According to Lallemand Plant Care (LPC), one microbial bionutrition product that is seeing impressive trial results in potato crops is Rise™ P, which is marketed by ICL and sold by their distributors. “Rise P was trialled in one location on potatoes by Nelson County Ltd, and was seen to improve the yield to the order of 9.2 tonnes per hectare,” says Andrew Gough, from LPC.

In this trial, Rise P was applied to one hectare with the fungicide application at planting, through the middle of a field of Markies, with an untreated control on each side.

An innovative plant growth promoting ‘rhizobacteria’, Rise P is a living organism – made up of a minimum of 2 billion spores per gram. It is mixed with water and applied at a rate of one kilogram per hectare, which equates to at least 2 trillion spores per treatment.

“The microbes have a symbiotic, or mutually beneficial, relationship with potato plants. They make phosphorus more available through solubilising this essential nutrient, which can often be less available than it needs to be, and this helps start young plants off well and encourages continual root growth in older plants.

Furthermore, the product increases the bioavailability of trace elements – especially iron – which also helps improve plant growth and health as well as the production of certain plant hormones that are crucial for ideal growth, says Andrew.

“Once the crop plants are better nourished, which Rise P significantly promotes, they will be considerably more productive. However, the plants can be prone to not retaining all of the tubers that they initiate and this is often exacerbated by external stress effects acting on the crop. To stop this happening, we recommend the use of IntraCell which is a powerful stress relieving biostimulant product applied following Rise P,” adds Andrew.