If you could make a big step towards improving sustainability – both environmental sustainability and your farm business’ financial viability – what would make the biggest impact?
Would you: decrease equipment passes to reduce emissions and decrease fuel use? Improve your focus on 4R fertilizer recommendations? Use more resistant genetics to decrease fungicide and insecticide application?
I give you these options because they’re the most common suggestions I’ve heard at farm shows, read in ag papers, and discussed with ag retailers. They’re great suggestions and just the start of what individual farmers and industry as a whole need to be considering. BUT, they’re missing a big and critical opportunity – arguably among the very biggest opportunities for sustainability enhancement in potato production today: decreasing production waste.
Even the best storage can’t act like a hospital: it can’t fix problems that already exist in tubers. However, well-constructed, well-ventilated, well-managed storage should act like a hotel, successfully maintaining the quality and overall volume of stored product. In other words, a producer should be able to expect that what they put into storage at harvest is what comes out of storage at shipping time.
That’s not always what happens.
I receive calls every year from producers frustrated about having lost volume (sometimes very significant volume) to sprouting, shrink, or disease. I’ve seen piles drop by up to two feet from water loss, and others – only occasionally, thank goodness – that are complete write-offs due to rot.
While CIPC does an effective job of controlling sprouting, it has a negative impact on both quality and waste in storage. That’s because CIPC impacts cell division and slows wound healing, promoting rather than controlling pathogen spread and disease development (which is exactly why CIPC can’t be applied prior to suberization). If a pile with a small amount of rot is treated with CIPC, one can count on the disease to take a giant leap forward. CIPC also does nothing to minimize water loss and resulting shrink.
There is a better option.
1,4SIGHT is the only true dormancy enhancer available on the market today. A biocontrol, 1,4SIGHT leverages a naturally occurring potato hormone that triggers enzymes in the tuber to promote field-fresh quality. Whereas CIPC’s only function is to stop sprouting, 1,4SIGHT maximizes salable yield by reducing water loss, promoting overall tuber health and reducing the opportunity for pathogens to attack and spread. 1,4Sight is an effective product in any storage season but shines in the most challenging years when tubers are stressed and – without 1,4SIGHT’s support – would otherwise sprout away salable yield and/or succumb to disease.
How we produce is one important part of sustainability. However, an equally important part is how we protect what we’ve produced from unnecessary wastage.