Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Consumers benefit from organic potato breakthrough

05.01.2005


Shoppers throughout Europe are enjoying a greater variety of organic potatoes at more affordable prices, according to researchers who publish an international study today.



Several varieties of organic potato, suitable for a range of national palates and cuisine, are adorning supermarket shelves across the continent for the first time.

A European study, led by Nafferton Ecological Farming Group at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, found up to ten varieties of potatoes, which can be grown without using chemical fertilisers and pesticides whilst being particularly resistant to the deadly fungal disease, blight. Most of these are newly available on supermarket shelves throughout the continent.


’Designer composts’ were created as part of the project, and were shown to increase organic potato crop yields by up to 40 per cent. New and effective organic crop management strategies have also been tried and tested.

Results of the project (called Blight-MOP), which involved 13 partners in Europe, will be presented today at a conference in Newcastle hosted by the Soil Association and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

One of the project’s main objectives was to encourage more consumers and producers to ’go organic’ - currently just four per cent of shoppers buy organic vegetables.

Among the newly-available organic potato selection are two Scottish varieties, Eve Balfour and Lady Balfour, which have been bred by the Scottish Crop Research Institute and are on UK supermarket shelves. Other examples include a "purple" potato from Hungary.

Shoppers can spend up to twice as much on organic potatoes than other varieties. Organic farmers do not have powerful chemical fertilisers and pesticides in their armoury, meaning harvests are much smaller than conventional crops grown on similarly-sized areas of land.

Organic farmers’ main weapons against blight - which caused widespread famine in the UK in the 1840s and is extremely difficult to control - are mineral copper sprays, and even these are not popular with consumers.

Researchers found some blight-management strategies, which would allow farmers to do away with the copper sprays but not at the expense of a reduction in crop size.

Professor Carlo Leifert, leader of the Nafferton Ecological Farming Group at Newcastle University, said: "Until now it’s been hard to find varieties of potato that can be grown organically but can resist blight, and it’s taken a lot of investigation to get this far.

"From a European perspective, you can’t really find a ’one size fits all’ solution to the organic problem. For instance, a potato that’s popular with the Swiss for making dishes such as tartiflette and rosti, may not suit what the British consumer wants for baked potato, mash and chips.

"Essentially, the Blight-MOP project has ensured that organic potatoes of the future will be more widely available and of an equal, if not better, quality and closer to the price of potatoes grown using chemicals.

"Hopefully we can then encourage more consumers and farmers alike to take the healthy eating option and go organic," said Professor Leifert, adding that valuable lessons from the exercise could be transferred to other aspects of organic vegetable production.

Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, said, "The results from the research are good news for farmers and consumers. Organic potato growing can be technically challenging and we hope that these blight resistant varieties will enable UK organic farmers to produce more potatoes and reduce the reliance of imports. It is encouraging that the supermarkets are recognising the challenges of growing organic potatoes and have started giving these new varieties a chance on the supermarket shelf."

Claire Jordan | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ncl.ac.uk

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Energy crop production on conservation lands may not boost greenhouse gases
13.03.2017 | Penn State

nachricht How nature creates forest diversity
07.03.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>