Start Date: 2018
Principal Investigator: Carl Rosen
Organization: University of Minnesota, Department of Soil, Water, and Climate
The conventional hilled-row planting configuration for potatoes agriculture is non-uniform, with three to four times the space between rows as there is between plants within rows. This non-uniformity may both increase inter-plant competition for sunlight and soil N and decrease the efficiency with which the crop, as a whole, collects both. In turn, increased light and nutrient interception may be expected to increase crop yield and decrease nutrient losses. To increase planting uniformity, some growers have begun planting potatoes in beds with multiple, closely spaced rows between each pair of furrows. To evaluate whether this approach produces the anticipated benefits in terms of yield and soil N interception, we conducted an experiment with Russet Burbank potatoes near Staples, MN.
Determine whether the bed-planning configuration increased N uptake and tuber yield and decreased N requirements and N losses to leaching relative to the conventional hilled-row configuration, and whether these benefits were more pronounced at the higher density.
Overall, switching from the hilled-row configuration to the bed configuration was not supported by the results from this study. However, this experiment may have been compromised by poor Colorado potato beetle control early in the season, which affected bed plots substantially more than hilled-row plots. Poor beetle controlee is not typical of commercial fields, and this year’s results may therefore be a poor indicator of how the bed configuration would perform in a commercial practice.