Ökológiai Mezőgazdasági Kutatóintézet

Potato research

Testing the effects of different soil-microbe vaccines on organic potato yields (2016)

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Once the most suitable potato has been chosen for on-farm experiments in terms of the best fit for the farmland, the participating growers then turn their attention towards finding the optimal nutrient supplements and soil fertility, as well as the optimal combination of the two for larger crop yields. For this reason, ÖMKi has now directed its potato experiments in this direction since the beginning of 2016. Soil microbe vaccines that are a good fit for the soil’s condition and the local ecology can improve the uptake of nutrients from the soil and manure, contributing indirectly to higher yields and to improving crop resistance. The effects of two unique blends of developmental microbial vaccine are therefore being tested on four organic farms during the 2016 season.   

The purpose of the study is to establish whether the vaccine blends have an observable effect on:

  • increased potato growth, yield and quality;
  • the soil’s fundamental physical and chemical properties;
  • the development of the number of culturable bacteria among the soil’s native microorganisms. 

The experiment is testing the effects of two types of vaccine blends, which are based on three strains of bacteria and fungus. The first blend was based on the results of Dr. Borbála Biró’s Biofector project (www.biofector.info). The second was developed by Dr. Éva Abod (Tamás), our post-doctoral scholar (Sapientia University, Csíkszereda Faculty, Bioengineering Department).

The potato type chosen for the experiment is the nationally cultivated Demon, which in the last few years has showed promising results in trials looking at comparing different types for quality and quantity, and the producers are happy to grow them.

The growers participating in the experiment include:

  • Háromkaptár Biokert, Tahitótfalu
  • SZIE GAK Ltd., Babatvölgyi Biokert, Gödöllő
  • Imre Erdődi, Hajdúhadház
  • Kálmán Imre Kiss, Kiskunfélegyháza

At the Tahitótfalu and Gödöllő locations, the experiment is being carried out four times on small plots, while one trial is being conducted at the on-farm locations in Hajdúhadház and Kiskunfélegyháza.

During the growing season, various measurements are carried out on the crops: we measure the speed of plant growth, chlorophyll activation, and, at the time of harvest, crop quantity, fraction, quality, and starch content. It is also important to take multiple soil samples, with which we can track the changes in the soil’s nutrient content and microbe group bacteria counts. Three meteorological stations have also been installed.

Potato cultivation

The most consumed vegetable in Hungary is the potato. Despite a growing demand for organic potatoes, the total domestic area devoted to organic potato production is only 40 hectares or 0.2% of the total potato area, about 25,000 ha (2011). ÖMKi on-farm potato research aims to remove barriers to increasing organic potato production in Hungary in collaboration with producers, breeders, academia, certifying agencies and government. With frequent releases of results and organized events we want to support the development of Hungarian organic potato cultivation.

  • Biological insecticide test in potato (2013)

  • Plant conditioner in potato (2013)

  • Comparative study of early potato varieties with and without row cover (2013)

  • Comparison of mid-early potato varieties (2013)

  • Comparison of mid-early potato varieties (2012)

 

 


Actual news:

 

Plant conditioner in potato (2013)

Six potato varieties (all developed in Hungary) were tested on 12 organic farms in 2012. Beside making observations durring the vegetation season, ÖMKi also surveyed tuber quality and quantity post-harvest. Samples containing 50 tubers were assessed to study frequency of disease and quality issues common to organic farming. Out of six diseases present, potato scab (Streptomyces scabies) and black scurf (Rhizoctonia solani) were the most frequent. ÖMKi and farmers participating in the on-farm research met and decided to research methods to minimize these diseases in organic potato production.

In 2013, the effect of a plant conditioner based on brown alga will be tested in mid early potato production. The study product is claimed to boost the plant’s defensive system thus enhancing resistance to disease.

Biological insecticide test in potato (2013)

Protection against Colorado beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) is the key factor in successful organic potato production. Widely used systemic insecticides are not permitted in organic agriculture so organic farmers are left with few options: imagos can be collected by hand in gardens and small farms while bigger farms use insecticide based on toxic crystals carrying Bacillus thuringiensis tenebrionis (BT). In the later case, proper application time is of crucial importance for effective control as BT is only effective against certain stages of the developing insect. Reliance on a single control strategy presents potential for development of resistance so finding and evaluating additional control methods is critical.

Comparison of mid-early potato varieties (2013)

We continue the survey of potato varieties begun last year in 2013. The objective of this study is to find those varieties available in Hungary that are most suitable for organic farmers. Six varieties from the  Potato Research Centre (Keszthely) were tested in 2012. This year we continue to study with two of these, Hópehely and Démon along with Tiamo and Dalida varieties provided by Bédalin Kft. for comparison.

13 organic farmers entered into the study from all parts of Hungary. It is worth mentioning that this test does not imitate strict experimental methodology (small plots, multiple replicants, controlled environments, etc.) but is adjusted to the ongoing routine of each the participating farms. Tubers of the four varieties were planted on minimum 12 m2 plots (in some cases larger); test plot sizes depended on the layout of each farm.

Comparative study of early potato varieties with and without row cover (2013)

Production of early potatoes is a great opportunity for both organic and conventional farmers. Beside potential to increase income through delivery of fresh produce in advance of competing offerings, moving the vegetation season decreases peaks in labor needs and, by using variaties with short growing time, producers may precede swarming of Colorado beetles and avoid contamination of potato late blight through early season production. Despite clear advantages, early potato varieties are rarely produced under row covers in Hungary. In agreement with several organic farmers, ÖMKi started an on-farm study in February 2013 to evaluate the current season extension technology and suitable varieties.

Participant farmers started to germinate elite tubers of three varieties: Balatoni Rózsa, Ila, Pannónia between 4th and 18th February.

Seed tubers of Pannónia were provided by József Kruppa. Ila tubers were provided by Zoltán Osváth. Our control variety of tubers, Balatoni Rózsa, were supplied by Antal Gódor, organic farmer.

Comparison of mid-early potato varieties (2012)

For organic potato production it is important to choose varieties that are both appealing for consumers and that fit into the special conditions of organic agriculture. Some Hungarian varieties can be replanted with minimal danger of viral degeneration. Although being on the official lists of organic seed potatoes, these varieties are not widely known to either conventional or organic farmers. We started a comparative on-farm study in 2012 to demonstrate them.

Our first comprehensive organic potato workshop was held in early March 2012, where participant organic farmers were acquainted with varieties from the Potato Research Centre (Keszthely) having good viral resistance and being recommended for organic production. It was agreed that curious farmers would test six varieties in 2012. Tubers were planted on at least 12 m2 plots (at times larger); the actual area depended on the layout of each farm. The Desirée variety was planted as the control to evaluate against.

13 organic farmers entered into the study in six different regions of Hungary. It is worth mentioning that this testing does not imitate the strict experimental methodology (small plots, multiple replicants, controlled environments, etc.) but is adjusted to the day to day routine of each of the farms.

Potato Peak II

Read more...When dealing with organic production of potatoes, it is important to choose varieties that fit well with organic methods and that resist plant diseases. Although being on the official organic seed variety list, Hungarian varieties with disease resistance are not widely known by organic farmers. We started a comparative on-farm study of Hungarian potato varieties in organic settings in the spring of 2012:

Six resistant varieties bred by the Potato Research Centre (Balatoni Rózsa, Démon, Katica, Hópehely, Vénusz Gold, White Lady, check variety: Desirée) were tested at twelve organic farms in different regions of the country. Farmers cultivated varieties using their normal methodology, observed plant growth and resistance, recorded data of harvest, and reported on their cultural practices. At the end of season, we made disease surveys on samples containing 50 tubers of each variety from each test planting. Analysis of data collected from each farm and summarized by ÖMKi contains abundant high quality information for farmers growing potatoes organically.

Organic potato: good quality in all phases of production – ready!

The first part of the organic cultivation methodology series from ÖMKi was presented at the’Organic potato production trials – summary of 2012 on-farm studies’ meeting. This booklet is about steps to produce organic potatoes of good quality.

We would like to thank everybody who collaborated with us for their help during development of this publication!

Start of early potato on-farm study 2013!

Comparative study of  early potato varieties with and without row cover.

Production of early potatoes is a great opportunity for both organic and conventional farmers. Beside potential to increase income through delivery of fresh production in advance of competing offerings, moving the vegetation season decreases peaks in labor needs and, by using variaties with short growing time, producers may precede swarming of Colorado beetles and avoid contamination of potato late blight through early season production. Despite clear advantages, early potato varieties are rarely produced under row covers in Hungary. In agreement with several organic farmers, ÖMKi started an on-farm study in February 2013 to evaluate the current season extension technology and suitable varieties.