Promoting Sustainable Potato Cropping Systems

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $158,477.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $24,990.00
Region: Western
State: Idaho
Principal Investigator:
Bryan Hopkins
University of Idaho

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, potatoes, sugarbeets, wheat
  • Vegetables: beans, onions


  • Crop Production: continuous cropping, cover crops, fertigation, foliar feeding, nutrient cycling, application rate management, tissue analysis
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, decision support system, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer
  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, whole farm planning
  • Pest Management: biological control, chemical control, cultural control, disease vectors, economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, physical control
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures


    Comparisons of sustainable Best Management Practices, or BMPs (based on judicious inputs focusing on environmental and economic sustainability), with Maximum Yield Management, or MYM (based on “insurance inputs targeting maximum yield), were completed in 14 Pacific Northwest fields. The BMP approach proved to be financially advantageous in all but two fields in the trial. These results and the growers practicing BMPs were highlighted at three field days and in many workshops, publications, and radio/TV venues, resulting in significant on-farm changes in a large percentage (over 20,000 acres documented and many more planned) of Pacific Northwest potato fields.

    Project objectives:

    1.) Compile a written and a web-based guideline of Best Management Practices for Sustainable Potato Cropping Systems in the Pacific Northwest.

    2.) Refine the existing Ag Input computer spreadsheet into a user-friendly, stand-alone computer program that empowers growers to make informed decisions regarding fertilizer and pesticide inputs based on economics and sustainability.

    3.) Assess initial and ending level of adoption of best management practices (BMPs) through in-person appraisal of 40 producers’ operations and a larger number of growers through the evaluation module of the interactive web-based guideline (see objective #1).

    4.) Conduct on-farm field demonstrations with producers and publicize detailed case studies of these “model” growers’ successful implementation of sustainable BMPs.

    5.) Stage an annual “Advanced Potato Production Workshop” featuring BMPs and crop, nutrient, soil, water, and pest management fundamentals.

    6.) Facilitate farmer-to-farmer roundtable discussions to discuss success experiences, as well as obstacles encountered, during the implementation of sustainable BMPs.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.