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New study suggests drainage could benefit Atlantic Canadian potato farmers


September 9, 2021


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A new study out of Canada’s Prince Edward Island that potato farmers in the Atlantic province would need to very carefully consider the cost of a supplementary irrigation system – and that most years, the cost benefit would not outweigh the cost of installation.

The study, Characterizing potato yield responses to water supply in Atlantic Canada’s humid climate using historical yield data and water data: Implications for supplemental irrigation analyzes weather and yield data as far back as 2000. It found that 90 percent of seasons indicated that irrigation systems would not be worth the cost.

The study mainly set out to analyze the cost/benefit of supplemental irrigation systems, but research also found that too much rain can reduce yields – which is where tile drainage could come into play.

Tile drainage can bring the added benefit of allowing excess water to drain from the fields – which can also yield the longer-term benefit of allowing fields to dry more quickly, allowing for earlier spring planting. The 2018 season was a particularly wet season in the area.

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However, farmers in the area would also have to consider the slope of their field to know if drainage is right for them.

Read the abstract and access the study here.