Potato Grower

September 2017

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Page 42 of 55

WWW.POTATOGROWER.COM 43 THE BEST PRODUCTS • THE BEST SERVICE • THE BEST PRICE Celebrating 35 Years! SINCE 1982 GEAR BOXES • FAFNIR BEARINGS • ROLLERS HYDRAULICS • BELTED CHAIN BELTING • SPROCKETS A U T H O R I Z E D D E A L E R F O R ® Liquid Handling Products SUPERIOR CHAIN, INC. Minnesota Beltway USA 208-356-4317 1217 S. RAILROAD AVE • SUGAR CITY, ID 83448 TILLAGE • ELECTRIC MOTORS Your New Newhouse Dealer Your New Newhouse Dealer 164106MauWel12v.indd 1 12/20/16 3:26 PM your soil where it belongs. • Spring tillage: Consider leaving grain stubble or underseeded crops untilled through the fall and winter. Consider underseed or cover crops that will winter-kill, or look at chemically desiccating cover crops in late fall to help with spring breakdown. If you want to prepare fields for potatoes in the fall, consider putting a winter- killing cover crop on it after it's prepped. • Nurse crop: Consider using a nurse crop of a small grain to help hold soil in place after potato planting. The period between planting and potato emergence and root growth can be a precarious one with the potential to lose a large amount of soil in a short period of time. Many growers in the Northeast have good luck with broadcasting small grains just ahead of potato planting, then desiccating them 20 to 30 days after planting. • Cover crop at potato harvest: Consider spreading a small grain 24 to 48 hours ahead of harvesting potatoes. The harvest activity itself will serve to incorporate the grain and provide a cover to the ground going into the winter months. 3. Maximize Diversity • Diversifying the types of plants your soil sees will help diversify and build the numbers of soil microbial communities in your soil. • Consider growing something new. A general recommendation is to have your rotation include a cool-season broadleaf (potatoes, clovers, canola, mustard), cool- season grass (small grains, timothy), warm-season broadleaf (bean crops, chickpea, sunflower), and warm-season grass (sorghum sudan, millet). • If you can't fit it into your rotation, consider fitting it into your cover crop. Once you get used to cover cropping, try expanding it to include multiple species or crop types. 4. Keep a Living Root as Long as Possible • Roots (more so living than dead) provide the food for microbial communities to live off. Roots leak out nutrients and sugars (exudates) to feed these microbial communities. In turn, they pay us back by helping feed our plants, providing better soil structure, and antagonizing pathogen communities. • Again, consider cover crops; ones that don't winter-kill will do better at this than those that do. • Consider rotating to a perennial (timothy, clover, alfalfa, etc.). 5. Integrate with Livestock • This is the most difficult of the five principles to uphold. But consider now or in the future the use of spreading manure, compost or livestock itself on your ground. My guess is that over time this will become more of a feasible option in more potato-growing regions of the country as the livestock industry looks north and east to expand.

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