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Water conservation agent trials show potato yield increase

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Using a water conservation agent can significantly increase potato yields, while reducing irrigation water use by approximately 25%, according to trials carried out by Amega Sciences

Norfolk based grower Tim Papworth, who has experienced the benefits of a water conservation agent first hand, says; “We applied H2Flo to a block of Royal potatoes, mixed with our standard blight spray, and left an adjacent block untreated, on a well-drained sandy loam area of one of our farms near North Walsham.”

The final digs on Tim’s farm showed that the treated plot yielded at a higher level than the untreated site, with an increase of 11 tonnes from 61.45 t/ha to 72.63 t/ha. “This improvement in productivity could directly improve farm profits by over £1000 per hectare and can be attributed to the way in which H2Flo works,” says Dr Richard Collins, ICL technical sales manager

“The product contains a blend of surfactants that alters the water surface tension. Therefore, this increased the spread of water through the soil profile of the treated crop, and improved re-wetting of the soil, making it more readily available for the plants,” he says. “However, the untreated plot maintained a constant moisture level with minimal plant uptake, which would decrease even further if dry conditions continued.”

Testing also showed that H2Flo was able to reduce the amount of water applications by around 25%, saving on overall water and pumping costs. Following these results, Mr Papworth plans to put the product to the test again this season, trying it out on a considerably larger area with multiple varieties of potato.

“Given the significant cost to purchase and apply water, at roughly £99/hectare metre, I’m really interested to test the water saving benefits for myself,” says Tim. “We use an average of 0.67 hectare-metres of water in a normal year, which costs us in the region of £8,600, so any saving would be a huge benefit to us and the environment.”

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