Development, Demonstration, and Implementation of a Low Input, Sustainable Potato Integrated Crop Management Program
Current potato production practices rely heavily on numerous applications of highly toxic pesticides. For commercial potato production to remain a viable enterprise, a low input, sustainable, crop management (ICM) program must be developed, shown to be economically feasible and then broadly implemented.
We have developed a prototype system for low input sustainable potato ICM. This system will be demonstrated on a commercial farm where numerous low input practices will be integrated and evaluated against traditional methods in a full series of rotations. This demonstration will be included in Penn. State’s Ag Progress Days Exposition to insure wide grower and public participation.
The ICM system will be expanded with the development of a Colorado potato beetle (CPB) biological control agent. We will develop a potato agrosystem conducive to the survival of entomopathogenic nematodes, and evaluate it’s potential for CPB control. This system, utilizing mulches to promote Steinernematid survival will target CPB fourth instars, pupae and emerging adults. It could potentially replace mid-season insecticides while improving crop yields and soil fertility.
In addition to being effective, a low input potato ICM program must be easily implemented and available for daily use. To this end, the ICM program will be evaluated by growers on at least five commercial farms. Potato fields on these farms will be scouted weekly and the growers’ presented with low input pest management recommendations. Their responses will be evaluated and used to make improvements. Finally, the ICM program will be made publicly available. An expert system will be targeted toward county extension of offices and scientists. A “paper based system” will be developed, published in the regional spray guides, and targeted toward the majority of growers.
In conclusion, this project will further develop and demonstrate a low input sustainable potato ICM program. Furthermore, a biocontrol system for CPB will be developed and field tested. The entire ICM program will be made available for wide scale implementation through public demonstrations, on farm recommendations, the delivery of an expert system to extension offices, and the publication of a paper based method for inexpensive daily on farm implementation.