INSIDERSPotato Growth Regulators and Sprout InhibitorsChange is Coming, How it Comes is Up to Us

Change is Coming, How it Comes is Up to Us


Each time I see a newspaper headline about new environmental and sustainability-based government regulations and corporate requirements being pushed down onto already over-burdened farmers, I cringe. Change is coming in all kinds of ways for our industry, that’s a certainty. The question is — will we ourselves choose and control the steps forward our industry takes, or will we wait for more and more change to be forced upon us?

Sustainability is one of the biggest buzz words in agriculture today, but don’t dismiss it as a flavour-of-the-month trend. Consumers are digging deeply into the sustainability concept and are getting louder and louder in demanding that agriculture – especially food production – delivers. Processors and retailers are pushing those demands down the line to farmers, and regulators are backing up the sustainability move through increasing regulation.

Don’t get me wrong: I think a push towards greener, more efficient, more natural, longer-thinking production methods is a critical and incredibly positive direction for agriculture – in fact, a necessary direction that’s better for the environment and ultimately better for farm businesses too. I applaud the good work agriculture has already done in decreasing emissions, managing inputs, and supporting greener technologies. The problem, however, is that gaps remain: gaps that will be filled by regulations and requirements if we don’t get there first.

As a potato storage guy, I see a glaring gap when it comes to the sustainability of potato storage.

Today’s consumers expect greener production practices including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of production, and the replacement of traditional, harsh, broad-spectrum chemicals with newer technologies like bio-chemicals. We already have the technology to deliver exactly that:

1,4DMN-based dormancy enhancing products – specifically 1,4SIGHT and 1,4SEED – not only achieve complete sprout control, they’re natural, non-harsh biochemicals that trigger enzymes to allow tubers to ‘sleep’ longer and respire less, translating to less C02 emissions. The enzymes also enable tubers to lose less water and maintain more turgidity, resulting in less supplemental humidity being required in storage and, consequently, less electricity. Unlike CIPC, which leaves a harsh and long-lingering residue, 1,4SIGHT and 1,4SEED volatilize entirely away.

But here’s my concern — though the 1,4SIGHT/1,4SEED option is proven to be highly effective and much more sustainable and environmentally-friendly than industry’s status quo, it’s very slow to gain uptake and has run into frustrating and wholly unnecessary regulatory red tape. It’s time for our industry to stand up for sustainability in potato storage!

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Bill Orr
Bill Orr
Canada Technical Representative, One Four Group - Bill Orr started in the sprout inhibitor application industry quite by accident. After college, he worked for a tree care company and sprout inhibitor applications were its fall area of business. This was before the VFD was introduced into the application process in Canada. After enduring those dirty times cleaning up after applications, Orr continued on for another 14 years in the industry. He quickly moved on to doing applications, then technical training for applicators, next to managing the entire application process, and eventually to owning his own sprout inhibitor application company. His application experience has allowed him to do application in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Orr finds sprout inhibiting a very interesting and unique industry, and he enjoys all the dynamics and challenges it has to offer.