What could you afford and achieve if you could move from, say, a 300 cwt/acre potato crop to a 400 cwt/acre crop?
For a variety of agronomic, environmental, and management reasons, some potato producers choose not to apply soil fumigants to manage disease. I understand: the industry standard fumigant doesn’t allow for a winter cover crop to protect your soil and requires a great deal of management: both fall and spring tillage, residue management, and extra trips through the field. It also impacts water availability and use.
However, disease losses are a slippery slope. In fact, it’s very easy to get used to farming disease rather than potatoes. In many cases, farmers don’t even realize how big a loss they’re taking. Want proof? More than one fifth of total food waste happens on-farm: an enormous portion of which occurs due to disease-related rot/disfigurement. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, of course: the bigger losses are hidden, occurring because disease-stressed plants simply produce lower quality and less yield.
As one builds up disease over time, the farm generates reduced income from its crops, which dictates management options and essentially limits how the whole farm operation can run.
There is another option.
Chloropicrin (sold as Strike) is a highly effective, selective soil fumigant that supports beneficial soil microbes and aligns with a reduced tillage system. We’ve been on some farms where we’ve increased yields by 100 cwt/acre via a single fall application of Strike. That yield bump fundamentally changes the whole economics and agronomics of the farm system, allowing much more farm business decision-making freedom. Too, the more salable product produced in a given area, the more efficient the production, which means the less land, crop inputs, diesel, equipment time and man-hours required per pound produced.
It’s not just that more money is possible from any given year of potatoes; it’s also that less disease means disease no longer dictates rotation length. Instead of doing a four- or five-year rotation, farmers might choose to shift to a three-year rotation. Rotating in beneficial cover crops to build soil health is still a priority, but suddenly these farmers can truly focus on soil building rather than just suppressing soil-borne disease.
Rather than assuming soil fumigation of all kinds and by definition is the opposite of sustainability, dig deeper into how chloropicrin might support the sustainable economics, soil-health and management freedom of your farm.