Establishing potato cyst nematode trap crops

This field lab explores the practice of establishing trap crops to control PCN - the UK's primary potato pest.

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Field Lab Timeline

    6/3/2020 11:00:00 PM
  • Group established

    Group established
  • 6/3/2020 11:00:00 PM
  • Interviews with growers

    Interviews with growers
  • 6/17/2020 11:00:00 PM
  • Innovative Farmers funding confirmed

    Innovative Farmers funding confirmed
  • 6/28/2020 11:00:00 PM
  • Sampling initial PCN levels

    Sampling initial PCN levels
  • 7/14/2020 11:00:00 PM
  • First drilling date

    First drilling date
  • 8/14/2020 11:00:00 PM
  • Second drilling date

    Second drilling date
  • 9/6/2020 11:00:00 PM
  • Field visits post-establishment

    Field visits post-establishment
  • 11/9/2020 12:00:00 AM
  • Field visit

    Field visit
  • 1/17/2021 12:00:00 AM
  • Results Meeting

    Results Meeting
For further information hover over the above milestone marks
  • Discussion

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  • Achievements

    August 2020

    Trap crop emergence at the sites

    A month after the first sowing, both trap crops had a second sowing at the end of July or early August at all sites. Both trap crops have emerged at Caynton and Lilyhurst, particularly Solanum Sisymbriifolium sown at 1.5cm, based on assessments of the number of plants emerging in a 2m row after the 1st sowing. At the Ormskirk and Tibberton farms, emergence is very limited.

    More info on the progress and farms can be found in the Documents section in the top right corner of this page.

    Milestone: Second drilling date

    July 2020

    Two trial sites drilled - details

    Drilling took place at two sites in late June - a little before the planned date as soil conditions were good for drilling.

    Trial site 1: ME Furniss near Newport Shropshire, planted on 25th June 2020 (hot dry day, 27c, soil temp. 25c).

    The field was wholecrop wheat, harvested one week before. Lemken solitaire with power harrow. Plot sizes 4m drill width and 15m long with 8m guards (mainly for turning equipment. Plots drilled as a replicated and randomised experiment/trial. Two species: Solanum sisymbriifolium and Solanum scabrum drilled at both 1.5cm and 3cm depths (approximately). Sandy loam soil. 50kgN/ha applied to field as slurry in week prior to planting.

    Trial site 2: N Belcher, Shropshire, planted on 29th June 2020 (cool day, 14c, soil temp. 13c).

    Planted in unplanted area within a potato field. Same equipment, set up, trial design (replicated and randomised), trap crop seeds and drill depths as trial site 1. Sandy loam soil.

    More information and photos from the trial can be found in the 'Documents' section at the top of this page (login required - sign up is free). A video of the trap crop drilling and set-up can be found here:

    Milestone: First drilling date

    June 2020

    Treatments and methods

    This field lab is looking to develop good establishment practice for the trap crops S sisymbriifolium and S scabrum when drilled after cereal harvest. Key aspects are date of drilling, weed control and drilling depth.

    A randomised plot design will allow analysis by Harper Adams University. Treatments:

    • Two species: Solanum sisymbriifolium and Solanum Scabrum
    • Two planting dates: early July and early August
    • Two planting depths: 1cm and 3cm


    • Photographic records (hand held and drone cameras) - to track progress and as a discussion point at meetings
    • Emergence counts to monitor first and final emergence speed and percentage
    • Ground cover, measured by photography at approx. 50% leaf cover, 100% cover and pre- crop destruction; using the ‘easy leaf area’ phone app
    • PCN counts pre trap crop (Pi) and after trap crop destruction (Pf)

    Milestone: Innovative Farmers funding confirmed

    June 2020

    Research group established

    The Shropshire Potato Growers Discussion Group consists of farmers who have been visiting field experiments of Harper Adams University over several years. They have made their own trials and changes to practice and have shared the results with each other. In particular they have improved their soils and partially controlled pathogenic nematodes by use of cover crops and biofumigants. This experience has made them both interested in and capable of establishing trap crops.

    Four group members are hosting trials in 2020. They are all experienced at establishing over-wintered biofumigant crops and all have fields available for drilling at one of the required times. Other important factors are availability of irrigation to aid establishment if necessary and access to suitable drills.

    An important objective of the work is to hold regular meetings to discuss the development of the experiments, results, relevant observations and the future directions of the research. These meetings will be attended by the hosts of the trial sites, other members of the Shropshire Potato Growers Discussion Group, the seed supplier (Produce Solutions), Andrew Wade (OptiGrow), Ivan Grove (Independent) and Matthew Back (HAU).

    Milestone: Group established

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