Dutch research shows simple, new hope for potato virus control
The UK seed potato sector loses an estimated £18m from potato viruses annually, a cost that could be dramatically reduced by one small change to spray programmes, according to research and commercial trials conducted in the Netherlands.
The findings from five years’ worth of trials with an Interagro adjuvant called Banka, has shown an increase in virus control of 18% when applied with a pyrethroid insecticide up to, and including, tuber initiation.
Banka is an adjuvant manufactured by Interagro using a specialist blend of alkyl pyrrolidones and polymers. The work, conducted by Holland Fyto, also recorded an average improvement in potato yields of 0.89t/ha which translates into an estimated margin gain of £178/ha.
The UK’s 17kha of seed plantings is vulnerable to two key viruses within four weeks of planting, both are transmitted by aphids – Potato Leaf Roll Virus (PLRV) and the Protyviruses, including Potato Virus Y (PVY). This is a big vulnerability for the sector, given that virus-free status of seed is fundamental to both the national and export markets. PVYN (veinal necrosis strain) and recombinant PVYNTN (N-tuber necrosis) are key viruses for both UK and The Netherlands with the peach potato aphid being the major aphid vector – just one “drill” for a few minutes, and the job is done. Growers must take a zero-tolerance approach to prevent virus transmission to avoid rejection by seed crop inspectors.
The Dutch Banka trials clearly showed a reliable improvement in virus control from the addition of Banka in each of the five years tested and demonstrated improved reliability over mineral oils, excellent crop safety and improved rainfastness of 30 minutes.
All this helps to maintain tight spray intervals in marginal weather, reports Interagro’s product manager, Sarah Ferrie. “The trials also logged a tuber number gain with Banka, versus a substantial loss using mineral oil Olie-H, not currently registered here in the UK.
“With resistance to pyrethroid insecticides now widespread, coupled with the succession of relatively mild winters encouraging survival of a higher number of aphids, the need for some positive news is likely to be highly welcome.”