Reducing potato blight with mesh covers

This field lab is investigating if mesh covers can reduce potato blight spores significantly and lower the susceptibility of the crop to disease.

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Field Lab Timeline

    6/19/2016 11:00:00 PM
  • Idea development

    Idea development
  • 6/30/2016 11:00:00 PM
  • First meeting

    First meeting
  • 1/3/2017 12:00:00 AM
  • Second meeting

    OGA meeting or ORC conference

    Second meeting
  • 12/4/2017 12:00:00 AM
  • Methods confirmed

    Methods confirmed
  • 1/8/2018 12:00:00 AM
  • Funding proposal submitted

    Funding proposal submitted
  • 3/5/2018 12:00:00 AM
  • Trial starts

    Trial starts
  • 5/13/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Progress review

    Progress review
  • 6/10/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Data collection

    Data collection
  • 7/15/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Results analysis

    Results analysis
  • 7/16/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Progress meeting and farm walk

    Progress meeting and farm walk
  • 9/2/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Results meeting

    Results meeting
For further information hover over the above milestone marks
  • Discussion

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  • Achievements

    July 2018

    Blight update

    Due to the recent spell of hot and dry weather over June and July, there has been no blight seen across the trial plots or further afield. Over the last week in July there has been some heavy downpours and muggy conditions that may start blight however, and the triallists are checking their plots to see any development of this.

    Milestone: Progress review

    July 2018

    Progress meeting discussion

    Attendees new to the field lab came to the meeting because the idea that mesh could be effective against blight was a new concept for them.

    The group then had a discussion over why the mesh may be effective -the idea was raised that it could be due to a change of light spectrum. Some think it is unlikely to be that micro-climate conditions under the mesh would be significantly different to deliver the outcomes seen on tomatoes in other trials so far. The thought is that the change in spectrum may have an effect on blight sporulation. This is yet speculation, but could provide a convincing argument for the difference seen beneath mesh. Blight is mostly wind borne, but the group coordinator is not convinced that the mesh would stop it getting through.

    Work on other trials looking at plant health through fluorometry tests could provide some indicators to whether potatoes may be more susceptible to blight. One of the triallists is looking into the possibility of testing this on the potato leaves, potentially before and after blight has taken effect.

    An expert on blight who was also present at the meeting has offered for triallists to send him samples once blight occurs for him to check the pathogen. He is unsure of the origin and this information will help the triallists to get the best treatment possible.

    There will be more updates over the coming months on the presence of blight and potential extra tests as detailed above.

    Milestone: Progress meeting and farm walk

    July 2018

    Trial progress meeting - Opportunities for commercial seed potato growers

    Trial progress meeting:

    Tuesday 17 July 2018, Peepout Farm, Pembrokeshire

    This will be a joint event between Innovative Farmers, Organic Growers Alliance and Sarpo Potatoes Ltd

    Draft agenda:

    13.00: Lunch
    13.45: Welcome and introductions
    14.00: Mesh control of potato blight field lab - trial updates and monitoring methods (Dominic Amos/ Sally Westaway)
    14.30: Opportunities for seed potato growers
    - The Sustainable Potatoes Wales project (Tony Little)
    - Breeding for blight & virus resistance and growing seed potatoes (David Shaw)
    - Growing seed and the Seed Potato Certification Scheme (Simon White)
    15.30: Farm walk to view recently established mesh trial and commercial seed crops (Romeo Sarra)
    17.00: Wrap up and close

    This meeting is free to attend. Please register here:

    Milestone: Progress meeting and farm walk

    June 2016

    Trial proposal

    Aims: The field lab would attempt to evaluate the potential for mesh covers to reduce potato blight infection. Trials at the Biological Husbandry Unit in New Zealand using mesh covers to exclude Tomato Potato Psyllid (TPP) (Bactericera cockerelli) had an unexpected side effect. There was a slight reduction in potato blight spores under mesh, and the actual occurrence of blight was slightly reduced in one trial. Could this be an option for UK growers and could it be economic?

    Proposed methods: This would be a virtual field lab, in that there would not be a need to meet beforehand. The problems of potato late blight are well known. Most growers have mesh covers for use in brassicas (mainly) for excluding pests. This would initially be a ‘look see’ to establish if it needs further investigation. Growers would compare covered an uncovered plots of the same variety (in the middle of fields) and use simple blight % leaf damage scores to record levels of blight infestation.

    Possible outcomes: Mesh covers shown to be an effective tool for reducing blight damage to potatoes, alongside other cultural techniques and variety selection

    Benefits to farmers: it would contribute to sustainability of farms, reducing use of copper or other damaging fungicides. Potential benefits for higher value potato crops (salad and earlies) in particular areas, or where the market specifies particular varieties that have little resistance.

    Milestone: Idea development

    April 2016

    Identifying the group priorities

    The coordinator Phil has met with OGA and LWA several times to discuss the research needs suitable for field lab trialling. Potato blight has been identified as an important issue that the group are interested in testing novel barrier techniques.

    Milestone: Idea development

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