While producers of wheat, milk and other products have seen yields increase by 40% or more, yields for potatoes have remained relatively constant, at about 100 tonnes/ha.
The yield gap analysis is being co-funded by Potatoes New Zealand, McCain Foods, Ravensdown and Plant and Food Research.
“For some years the yields for potatoes have not been where you would expect when compared with, for example, carrots or wheat,” Ravensdown research and development general manager Mike Manning said.
“Progress has been made in the area of plant genetics and other aspects of production in most areas of agriculture but we’ve not seen the same positive results in potato production.
“We have a proactive group of farmers in Canterbury who want to learn as much as they can about options to improve growing practice.
“The implications here would be of interest throughout the country so we decided to pool our resources,” Manning said.
The study will look at nutrient supply and fertiliser practice as well as pests and diseases and other issues such as seed quality, irrigation management and soil physical conditions.