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Alternative solutions to stop growth in potatoes

A new project supported by the Green Development and Demonstration Program (GUDP) will develop and investigate alternative solutions for stopping the growth of potatoes, which will also contribute to the green transformation of agriculture.

The TERMINATOR project will develop and investigate alternative solutions for stopping the growth of potatoes, which can also contribute to the green transformation of agriculture. Photo: Colourbox

Potatoes are an important crop in Danish agriculture. In total, potatoes were grown on approx. 56,000 hectares in 2021 in Denmark. The potato plays a very important role on dining tables not just in Denmark, but all over Europe, but it is also a high-value crop generating many jobs and has an export value of approx. 3 billion DKK. Laying, processing and eating potatoes, as well as a small proportion of the starch potatoes, are stored before use. This corresponds to approx. half of the potatoes grown in Denmark. In order to be able to store potatoes, it is necessary to stop the growth before harvest. This is done to ensure that the skin of the potatoes is uniform making the potato stock able.

“Stopping the growth of potatoes must be done quickly to avoid regrowth or immature tubers, which can lead to various diseases and rot during storage. Until 2019, diquat was used to desiccate the potatoes, but from 2020, the use of diquat is banned in the EU. In the last two years, a dispensation has been granted for the use of diquat in potatoes for storage, but this does not change the fact that there is now an urgent need to develop and investigate alternative solutions,” says professor and section leader Per Kudsk from the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus university.

Risks of mechanical growth arrest

In a new GUDP project, researchers from Aarhus University, advisers from e.g. SEGES, and a number of private companies find alternative solutions to the problem. TERMINATOR, as the new project is called, will specifically focus on completing the development of an innovative mechanical method that will be able to contribute to the green transition of Danish agriculture.

"A mechanical growth arrest may not come completely without risks," explains Per Kudsk, "for example, one fears a greater spread of Aerial Stem Rot or tuberculosis infection with potato blight when one stops growth mechanically."

Therefore, the researchers behind TERMINATOR will investigate the link between desiccation methods and the prevalence of these diseases in order to find viable solutions.

The TERMINATOR project has a total of four purposes:

  • to complete the development of an effective mechanical method for desiccation and document the effect
  • to investigate the possibilities of using salt and liquid ammonia for desiccation
  • to map the risk of increased incidence of diseases by mechanical desiccation
  • to disseminate the project's results to Danish potato growers and thereby contribute to securing the future of Danish potato production and the associated workplaces

Open house and field demonstrations

In addition to the development part, the TERMINATOR project also has a demonstration part. Here, the researchers will use field demonstrations to compare the project's methods and other alternative methods of stopping growth in potatoes side by side with the methods that farmers use today. The results will be published on a regular basis and displayed at open house events in order to ensure a quick embedding in practice.

Additional information

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Collaborators: Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University, SEGES, MSR Plant Technology, KMC, AKV-Langholt, Danespo, Johannes Mertz, and Envo-Dan.
Funding: The project is funded by the Green Development and Demonstration Program (GUDP)
Amount granted:

DKK 5,086,397

Project period: 01.01.2022 – 31.12.2024
Contact: Professor and Section Leader Per Kudsk, Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University. Tel .: +45 22283382 or email: per.kudsk@agro.au.dk