Zimmatic Blog

Crop Spotlight: Why Potato Crops Need Efficient Irrigation

Aug 11, 2022

Crop Spotlight: Why Potato Crops Need Efficient Irrigation

Potatoes, spuds, taters, solanum tuberosum—regardless of what you call them, they are one of the most important food crops in the world. In fact, potatoes round out the top three crops behind rice and wheat when it comes to global consumption.

According to the International Potato Center (CIP), potatoes are grown in more than 100 countries, and “the global total crop production exceeds 300 million metric tons.” They are a fundamental crop in many countries to help solve food insecurity.

So, how can we ensure this widely consumed and beloved crop continues to satisfy a growing population around the world? Developing high-tech, precision farming solutions is one key way, equipping growers with the knowledge, support and confidence to maximize their yields. That goes for precision irrigation solutions, too.

Power potato growth with irrigation

From establishment to harvest, irrigation impacts every stage of growth with potato crops. Since potatoes are shallow-rooted and more sensitive to soil moisture stress than crops with deeper roots, getting the correct amount of water is essential. Moisture stress can lead to lower tuber yields, produce misshapen tubers, and negatively affect processing quality.

Moisture requirements for potatoes depend on several factors, including: cultivar maturity characteristics, plant population, water-holding capacity of the soil, climate and whether tubers are grown for seed or consumption markets.

To optimize yields, the total available soil water should not be depleted by more than 30 to 50% and the soil should be maintained at a relatively high moisture content. In general, deficits in the middle to late part of the growing period tend to reduce yield more than those in the early part.

ZimmaticTM pivot irrigation systems are a cost-effective solution. They apply water evenly throughout your potato field, in the correct amount and at the correct time it’s needed. This helps produce higher yields, reduce waste, lower labor costs and alleviate risk when the weather isn’t cooperating.

Get to know your tubers better

A center pivot irrigation system is highly effective for efficient and precise water delivery and management, but what if you could know more about the status of your potato crop?

From forecasted soil water depletion and irrigation needs to automated data reports and crop water usage, FieldNET Advisor™ uses patented technology to help growers make faster, better-informed decisions about their irrigation operation.

Seamlessly integrated into the FieldNET™ remote monitoring and control platform, FieldNET Advisor combines crop and irrigation science with cloud computing capabilities, remote sensing functionality and machine learning to deliver data, insights, and science-backed recommendations and reporting.

For potato growers, this means better managing soil moisture stress and crop needs to ensure optimal yields.

Finding your precision irrigation solution

Wes Boorman, a potato grower in Washington, leverages the powerful combination of a Zimmatic pivot system, Zimmatic Precision VRI and FieldNET technology to yield more.

VRI has helped him customize the amount of water or chemicals applied to each area of his field—including keeping a constant flow rate that matches pump capacity. Not to mention, he can manage his VRI from virtually anywhere. You can read Boorman’s full story here.

If you’re thinking about adding Precision VRI to your irrigation system and take your tuber growth potential to the next level—or any crop for that matter—reach out to your local Zimmatic dealer today. Our dealers are always here to help create a custom irrigation solution that meets your needs.