Skip to content

Potatoes in Practice (PiP) Event Review

28 September 2022


Potatoes in Practice (PiP), the largest outdoor field event for the UK potatoes sector took place in glorious sunshine early this August at the James Hutton Institute’s Balruddery Research Farm. The event was very well attended, even with many growers busy combining the early cereal harvest! PiP provides a forum for all involved in potato production to showcase the innovation and development that will deliver a sustainable future for potatoes in the UK.

As in previous years, the central focus of this year’s event was the field plots. New varieties showcased by breeders are always a popular feature; there is an urgent need for varieties that both deliver for end consumers and are robust enough to stand up to pest and disease pressures. Disease resistant varieties without a market go nowhere, but there were some very promising varieties on show. Varieties that offer resistance to PCN, in particular the Globodera pallida species were especially prominent this year. A united effort by JHI, SRUC/SAC Consulting, SASA, Scottish Agronomy, and Soil Essentials, to tackle the issue PCN Action Scotland was a prominent presence and is starting to have a real impact in raising awareness of the treat this pest poses.

Two of the biggest challenges potato growers face are spiralling costs-of-production and loss of active ingredients, both of which put a sharp focus on decision around agronomy. How to face these challenges was also on display in the field plots. Examples included the potential for rationalised inputs; the importance of application technology and nozzle choice; and some novel precision framing tools – all of which could help with efficiency and allow growers to do more with less.

As well as the field plots, machinery demonstrations, and exhibitor stands, the seminar programme made a welcome return to the event. Ensuring coordination and innovation within the industry was a theme speakers kept returning to.

The best attended seminar of the day was the Introduction to a New Organisation for Seed Potato Growers. The new cooperative SPO (Seed Potato Organisation) is a grower owned and driven effort to represent the views of seed potatoes growers across the UK. Discussions also took place around coordination with GB Potatoes (a voluntary umbrella organisation, also lead by growers, which will be launched soon) and SASA. Groups like this are vital for the industry’s future: they can lead coordinated representation to government, develop markets, fund innovation and technical services, and ensure the industry has an economic and environmentally sustainable future.

Innovation and coordination were also the theme of many of the other talks, and collaboration is vital across the potato sector and particularly in research and development. SRUC and JHI already have a collaboration working to support the industry in the initiative and Professor Lesley Torrance of JHI presented at PiP new plans to evolve this into a world leading International Potato Innovation Centre to act as a hub for cutting edge potato research that will ensure the UK industry doesn’t fall behind its competitors.

Sign up to the FAS newsletter

Receive updates on news, events and publications from Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service