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Growers Partnering with potato program reap rewards

Syngenta Potato Partners program visits Tasmania

Potato Partners is a national program that allows potato growers to access a range of products and information relating to growing practices and challenges. Now in its 13th year, the program continues to provide support to its members, as AUSVEG discovered in this report.

Overcoming production challenges in the potato industry can be a complex task. There are many aspects of potato growing to consider, and it can be difficult to decipher which information is right for your operation to produce sustainable, premium potatoes.

It is important to keep updated about the latest products, technologies and innovations, particularly in terms of local and global R&D. This includes crop establishment, from the growing stage to desiccation and harvest.

To assist growers in meeting on-farm challenges and identifying solutions, Syngenta developed its Potato Partners program. Launched in 2006, the program helps growers to receive advice and information from the organisation’s local and global potato teams.

Knowledge Transfer

One grower to benefit from Potato Partners is Richard Hardstaff from Tasmania. Richard operates Greenfield, a 62-hectare mixed cropping enterprise located at Kindred in the state’s north-west. He also leases approximately 150 hectares at other locations along the coast. Potatoes are the business’ main income from both a growing and a contracting perspective.

“I joined the program to be able to receive first-hand information on how to get the maximum output from a crop,” Richard says.

“It is also a great way to be able to manage cash flow within the business. You are able to use the best product available and can apply this product at the most suitable time, when cash flow can be limited.”

Richard said Amistar 250EC is an important product in his business as it works extremely well in the local conditions. “It is very important to use this product at planting time. Rhizoctonia is a huge problem in the ground we farm and I have seen first-hand what it can do to a crop with tuber set and also yield losses,” Richard said.

In 2018, Richard received a visit from the program team which enabled direct contact with his local representative as well as the opportunity to gain on-farm tips.

'When the team did an on-farm visit, we were in the middle of our potato planting season. They have had input on the best place on our planter to place the nozzles to get the maximum out of our products' - Richard Hardstaff

Potato Partner members are also invited to regular ‘dye nights’ that showcase different spray nozzles and demonstrate the impact of water volumes and pressure on coverage. These events show participants how to set up their boom correctly to ensure that they are delivering the product to the target as efficiently and effectively as possible.

There are also invite-only workshops and training sessions, while individual technical support is available.

Stewardship is also a vital part of Richard’s business. As the owner/operator, Richard organises all of the contracting as well as ground preparation, planting, harvesting, irrigation and spraying of his own crops.

“I have always had great experience with Syngenta and their Potato Partners Program,” Richard said.

“It has also allowed us to access qualified experience industry representatives that have helped us to set up our potato planter so that we can get the maximum result achievable from a crop. This is extremely important to our business.”

This article was first published by AUSVEG in the December 18/January 19 edition of Potatoes Australia.

Potatoes Australia has grown to reach approximately 3,000 readers across the country. By reaching such a broad audience across the entire Australian potato industry, Potatoes Australia has simultaneously aided and informed a greater understanding of R&D performed in key areas, such as pest and disease management and best farming practices.