Welcome to the Potato Soil Health Project

Pototo Soil Health Logo Image

The Potato Soil Health Project was established to address two related issues with soil health in potato cropping systems across the U.S.:  (1) despite the frequent use of fumigation in most farms, pressure from soil-borne diseases is increasing over time, and (2) at the same time, soil productivity is declining.  Our overall objectives are to determine how best to measure soil health in potato cropping systems, identify the tools (cover crops, soil amendments, rotation schemes) that best enhance both soil health and tuber production, and communicate our findings to potato growers.

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October 10, 2019

Conference call.  Almost all harvests for Objectives 1 and 2 have been completed as of October 10, as have most disease assessments.  Some fumigation treatments and cover crop plantings in Objective 1 remain to be done. 

Please have DNA extracted by the end of November. 

We are developing a data management plan; a rough draft was shared with all participants before the meeting. 

We will present a poster at the Potato Expo in Las Vegas, and there will be a project meeting on Wednesday, January 15, 7:00 - 8:30 AM.

We will have another project meeting at MSP in March 2020.

August 2, 2019

Important news!  We have received confirmation of our three-year funding continuation from NIFA!

July 31, 2019

We met with stakeholders at the Potato Association of America meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  The project background and progress were summarized by the Co-PDs or their surrogates.  We had a lengthy and valuable discussion.  Stakeholders may seek out organically managed sites that we can work into Objective 2 in future years.  We anticipate holding another March stakeholders' meeting next year.  We plan to establish a photo repository on the website.

July 19, 2019

Eighth conference call completed.  Samples from 60 days after planting in Objectives 1 and 2 have been collected in all states but Maine, where a cool, wet spring delayed planting.  Details for DNA handling are being worked out with the vendor; PIs should hold onto their extracts until further notice.  We will present an update at the PAA meeting in Winnipeg on July 31.  Alex Maas (Objective 3) sent out the beginnings of an economic model.  Completing the model will require data from Objectives 1 and 2, but the economics team intends to get as close to completion as they can until that data is collected.  Michelle Marks (Objective 4) sent out a summary of existing Extension materials on soil health from the Upper Midwest.  She is working on 1-2-page, general-interest papers on the basic concepts behind this project.  Carl sent out a protocol for harvest along with the conference call minutes.  We have had contact with NIFA about continuation funding, but no answers yet.  We will be hiring a consultant to design a logo.

May 20, 2019

Seventh conference call completed.  Fieldwork on Objective 1 and 2 studies have been initiated in almost all states.  We will decide shortly whether to upgrade to the PowerSoil Pro DNA extraction kits or stick with the PowerSoil kits.  The project has been approved for three years of continuation funding!  But first, we need to submit a progress report.  Updates on research progress and project hires are requested from all PIs.  We will have a meeting at the PAA conference in Winnipeg on July 31, 3:30 - 5:30 PM.  A conference call will be held in the previous week.

April 3, 2019

Soil sampling protocols are now established and uploaded to the Google Drive and the "Protocols" page on this site.  The DNA extraction protocol (from Qiagen) is also posted in both locations

March 7, 2019

Researchers and stakeholders will meet for a progress report and to resolve remaining questions about protocols and procedures.