Welcome to the Potato Soil Health Project

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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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Updates

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June 24, 2020

Zoom meeting for project researchers.  Despite some delays and rearrangements due to COVID-19, research is progressing well.  Unfortunately, Co-Project Director Noah Rosenzweig is leaving both Michigan State University and the Potato Soil Health Project to pursue an opportunity in state government.  We wish him the best.  We have an opportunity to collaborate with researchers at the Real Food Campaign.  They are interested in how soil health influences potato quality, including nutrient density and secondary compounds.  Several of our researchers expressed interest.  We have a progress report due to USDA at the end of August.  We will need everybody’s help to pull this together!

March 13, 2020

We held our second annual March meeting on March 13.  Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, only 10 attended the meeting in person, but another 27 attended via Zoom.  We went over a draft grower survey by Alex Maas and made suggestions for improvement.  Matt Ruark discussed a survey his lab conducted at the 2020 Wisconsin Potato Conference; interest in soil health is high among potato growers, including the effectiveness of current strategies, alternatives to soil fumigation, and how to assess soil health.  Expect instructions on performing geostatistical analyses soon.  DNA library prep info is expected soon, and sequence data about two months after that.  This year, there expect a protocol for submitting DNA samples in 96-well plates.  This will make it much easier for Marian to submit the samples to the sequencing core.

January 15, 2020

The stakeholders meeting in Las Vegas was a success.  We presented progress reports on all four objectives.  Growers noted that our results may not apply well to their operations if our yields in 2022 (Year 4) are not economically viable (some of our 2019 yields were not).  Growers expressed interest in knowing how potato years affect soil health and whether it's possible to improve soil health in potato systems in any meaningful way, since low-till is not an option.

The March meeting will be held on March 13, 2020, at the InterContinental Hotel at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

November 20, 2019

We will be presenting a progress report poster at Potato Expo 2020 in Las Vegas, on Tuesday, January 14, at 4:00 - 5:15 pm.  We will also be holding a stakeholder meeting at the Expo at 7:00 - 8:30 am on Wednesday, January 15.

We are developing a finished publication policy in response to comments we've received on the draft policy.  We are also developing a data management policy in consultation with the University of Minnesota Libraries.

Bryn Evin will begin work as the extension specialist for the Pacific Northwest region in January.

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.