Monday, November 13, 2006

The Potato Systems Planner: Integrating Cropping System Impacts on Crop Yield and Quality, Soil Biology, Nutrient Cycling, Diseases, and Economics.

C. W. Honeycutt, Robert Larkin, John Halloran, and Tim Griffin. USDA-ARS, "New England Plant, Soil, & Water La", Orono, ME 04469-5753, United States of America

Finding and developing profitable cropping systems is a high priority for the potato industry.  Consequently, an interdisciplinary team of ARS scientists from the New England Plant, Soil, & Water Laboratory evaluated 14 different rotations for their impacts on crop yield and quality, nutrient availability, plant diseases, soil microorganisms, potential profitability, and economic risk.  This research information was compiled into the “Potato Systems Planner” CD to assist growers in making informed decisions about their cropping systems and associated management practices.  The Potato Systems Planner is set up much like a web page, where users can obtain different levels of detail simply by clicking on a research summary.  As an example, the Canola-Potato system contains the statement “Lowest levels of Black Scurf”.  Clicking on this statement provides a graph of tuber Black Scurf levels when potato follows canola, as compared to other rotations.  The Potato Systems Planner also provides an “Economics Calculator”, where growers input production costs such as fertilizer, labor, etc. into a table that predicts potential profitability of each rotation and of the entire cropping system.  Although default values for each of these parameters are provided as a starting point, each default value can be modified based on the grower’s own experience with his/her crops, soils, and markets.  The Economics Calculator was designed so that information needed to run the calculator is identical to that information requested by the USDA Farm Service Agency when growers apply for a crop loan.  A third component of the Potato Systems Planner is a “Disease Database”.  This database provides pictures and information useful for identifying and controlling 19 of the most common diseases of potato.  To obtain a copy of the Potato Systems Planner, contact Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, at 207-581-3266 or