Potato storage is a key element of the UK’s food supply systems maintaining a continuity of supply for our major staple food.
This is crucially important for food security as we move to more uncertain times. Here are some advantages and disadvantages:
• The potato crop has a broad genetic base which is great but we need to find better attributes eg quality / dormancy and get them into new lines that deliver what the market wants
• Is our industry too reliant on old varieties? How do we convince markets to adapt?
• More precision will help move us forward with storage in particular, especially with better diagnostics, sensors, information, decision support systems and graphical user interfaces.
• A risk management approach is a good start point, although far from universal at the moment, but would be enhanced by better prediction of crop suitability.
• Sustainable storage systems need to look at atmospherics and new forms of temperature control
• Interventions (use of ventilation, cooling etc) need to consider climate change and its impact on quality
• Cost considerations will remain crucial to viable business not least in consideration of energy use; net zero targets; heat pump technologies; battery storage & PV optimisation and, last but not least, taking advantage of inertia in the crop.
There have been major changes in recent seasons following the loss of CIPC. We are reducing dependency on chemicals long term but are currently at the bottom of a big new learning curve…
Successful potato storage will be increasingly dependent on an ability to adapt and, as an industry, we still have major challenges to address, not least with maximising returns and minimising costs.
Considering the bare economics of the crop, there are broader trends we need to take into account as business owners.
Here are a few prompts to get you thinking:
• How do you balance yield vs quality vs ‘storability’?
• The storage process must be more efficient, to reduce unit cost. How can you achieve that?
• The sector needs significant innovation and investment to improve; how do we drive new R&D forward for the benefit of the industry?
PSI can help your business develop integrated storage solutions to meet these challenges. Contact Adrian on 07970 072260 if you’d like to find out how.