In general, farmers will keep looking for production efficiencies while maintaining or even increasing crop yields. This also goes for Alberta`s potato growers, who produced roughly 1.1 million tons of potatoes in 2019, made up primarily of processing potatoes but also of table and seed potatoes.
In Southern Alberta, there are five potato processing plants, and it takes a lot of potatoes to keep those plants going, which means it`s crucial to maintain yields and do it as efficiently as possible.
With that in mind, the “Towards Climate-Robust Irrigation Water Management for Potato Production“ research is now in the second of a four-year project. It`s investigating whether precision irrigation can help increase water use efficiency and potato crop yields in Alberta.
New irrigation technology
According to Willemijn Appels, the Mueller Applied Research Chair in Irrigation Science at Lethbridge College, they are trying to figure out what fields would benefit most from the new irrigation technology that is available and ideally how you could manage that. Her research team is working with five potato growers and is follows them throughout their growing season on sites located near Vauxhall, Bow Island and in the Taber-Coaldale area during the project.
As reported on lethbridgenewsnow.com¸ they are looking at everything from management practices, moisture levels and outcomes from various irrigation applications, to working out `what if`-scenarios.
The project is a partnership between Lethbridge College’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Potato Growers of Alberta, with $406 Million in funding from the Federal and Alberta Government.