Trials have proven that using a water conservation agent can significantly increase potato yields, which could bring in an extra £1,100 per hectare, while reducing irrigation water use by approximately 25%.
These results come at a key time for the agricultural industry as many growers look to consider how they can reduce water consumption and improve farm efficiency. This is in anticipation of a shift in farm subsidy payments that will reward sustainable practices.
One farmer who has experienced the benefits of a water conservation agent first hand, is Norfolk based Tim Papworth (left).
“We applied H2Flo to a block of Royal potatoes, mixed with our standard blight spray, and left an adjacent block untreated, on a well-drained sandy loam area of one of our farms near North Walsham,” says Tim.
Dr Richard Collins, ICL technical sales manager, explains that the final digs on Tim’s farm showed that the treated plot yielded at a higher level that the untreated site, with an increase of 11 tonnes from 61.45 t/ha to 72.63 t/ha.
“This improvement in productivity could directly improve farm profits by over £1,000 per hectare and can be attributed to the way in which H2Flo works.
“The product contains a blend of surfactants that alters the water surface tension. Therefore, this increased the spread of water through the soil profile of the treated crop, and improved re-wetting of the soil, making it more readily available for the plants,” he says.
“However, the untreated plot maintained a constant moisture level with minimal plant uptake, which would decrease even further if dry conditions continued.”
Richard goes on to outline the additional benefits of the product. “Further testing has proven that H2Flo can reduce the amount of water applications by 25%, saving on overall water and pumping costs.”
With this in mind, and the pleasing results from his own trial, Mr Papworth plans to put the product to the test again this season, trying it out on a considerably larger area with multiple varieties of potato.
“Given the significant cost to purchase and apply water, at roughly £99/hectare metre, I’m really interested to test the water saving benefits for myself,” says Tim.
“We use an average of 0.67 hectare metres of water in a normal year, which costs us in the region of £8,600, so any saving would be a huge benefit to us and the environment.”