Skip to main content

Potato: Olmix biosolutions to support adaptation to climate change

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ongoing climate change poses new challenges for potato production. Rising temperatures and increasingly frequent droughts in Summer are forcing producers to implement new solutions.

Heat yes … but will water be available?

With optimum growth at 30.6°C, potatoes are one of the crops best suited to expected temperature rises. However, increased evapotranspiration may quickly become a limiting factor. While the overall volume of precipitation is not necessarily affected by climate change, distribution is and Summers are becoming drier. Forecasts of more frequent Summer droughts therefore mean more water stress for potatoes which is especially worrying considering that there is less water available for irrigation.

Another constraint that farmers must adapt to: the inevitable structural rise in energy prices and its impact on fertilizer prices. Potatoes have a shallow root system reaching a depth of only 60 centimeters and since they require significant amounts of nutrients they are highly dependent on fertilizers.

Four key ways to better adapt crops

A global approach to farming is required to provide technical and economic responses designed to tackle impending challenges.

1. Improve soil quality and health

Soil is the living environment in which potatoes develop and grow. Its physical, chemical and biological characteristics must be constantly monitored and controlled, not only to guarantee that water and minerals reach plants, but also to ensure the quantitative and qualitative development of the tubers. Considering current changes in precipitation patterns (more water in Winter and less in Summer), the soil’s ability to absorb rainfall in wet periods and hold water in reserve during dry periods is becoming crucial.

Natural porosity created by earthworm galleries. Improving natural porosity makes it easier for rainwater to effectively penetrate soil.

Stimulating the biological activity of soil plays a key role in structuring porosity and maintaining a capillary network capable of transporting water between the different soil layers. Also, soil microorganisms play an essential role in turning crop residue and field cover into humus adding to the “sponge” effect of soil. A 0.5% increase in soil humus content translates into an additional 75,000 liters of stored water per hectare. Thanks to its stimulation of microbial activity, the soil activator Neosol improves the structure and water retention capacity of the soil, thus providing more favorable growing conditions for potatoes.


2. More efficient use of nutrients

Whether they come from the soil or from fertilizers, mineral uptake by the plant depends first and foremost on the density of its root system which, in turn, is strongly impacted by the soil structure quality of the upper layers.

A denser root system allows the potato crop to “capture” more minerals in the soil.

Regenerated soils for more profitable crops

Studies have shown that nitrogen absorption efficiency can be reduced by 60 to 80% depending on the soil type and the degree of degradation of its structure. Similarly, good soil structure contributes to the aeration of top layer and hence the natural mineralization of organic matter by bacteria, resulting in dozens of kilos of minerals per hectare made available for crops. In addition to actively preserving soil structure, the use of Explorer or Primeo MICRO rooting stimulators in the ridge at the time of planting, or Primeo S12 nutrition activator, is an effective way to swiftly develop potato root density to improve nutrition efficiency and reduce the amount of fertilizer required.

3. Optimize the physiological cycle

Potato is a short cycle crop. From plant germination to harvesting, including vegetative growth and tuber formation and growth, the sequencing of the different phases of the physiological cycle must be as optimal as possible for the crop to reach its full potential. These physiological changes, driven by the plant’s genome, entail the participation of various proteins, hormones and metabolites that are synthesized during the course of the plant cycle. And this entire process is influenced by environmental factors. In short, a highly complex process from which maximum yield is expected. To optimize the different stages, the Algomel range of foliar physiostimulants offer valuable help by supporting the vital functions of plants including photosynthesis, root function and nutrient uptake. Crops are thus more easily protected from frequent hazards related to soil or farming practices.

4. Crop support in the event of acute stress

Climate change has become increasingly tangible in recent years which have been characterized by higher temperatures and drought. These are very stressful conditions for potato crops, especially when they occur during the tuber formation and flowering phases. At temperatures above 35°C, the potato growth rate declines as does the synthesis and accumulation of dry matter. But these are not the only risk factors. Chemical stress, especially related to weed control, can also damage crops and undermine their potential.

Right: phytotoxicity symptoms on potatoes due to herbicide application.
Left: potatoes benefiting from the application of Blue Guardian foliar biosolution preserving the quality of their foliage.

In order to mitigate the adverse effects of herbicides on crops, the application of Blue Guardian foliar biosolution, helps plants to activate and amplify their defense mechanisms, enabling them to trigger protective reactions more effectively in the event of phytotoxicity.

Biostimulants for potatoes: a growing market

Faced with the consequences of climate change and in response to sector expectations, potato farming, whether sold fresh or for the industrial, starch or seed plant markets, must incorporate novel solutions if it expects to remain profitable. In addition to varietal adaptation, the development of irrigation management tools, and the evolution of farming and crop protection methods, biostimulants capable of bolstering the vital functions of soils and plants are a promising resource for potato producers. And they know it: in 2022, 20% of farmland under potato in France (number 2 producer in Europe and number 1 exporter worldwide) benefited from the use of biostimulants according to the market research company Kynetec.