Agronomy Advice
April 02, 2024

Establishing potatoes successfully

By: Natalie Wood

As with any other crop, good nutrition is key to securing a healthy potato crop, one that will return good yield and high quality and ultimately achieve a better profit margin for you.

Farmer in a potato field
Farmer in a potato field

The first challenge is establishing your potatoes. A well established potato crop needs phosphate to facilitate the development of a strong root system as well as later on the shoots, so it’s an essential nutrient for securing maximum yield potential.

But phosphate can be a tricky nutrient to get into potatoes for two reasons. Firstly, it’s an immobile nutrient, relying on the crops root system coming to find it. Secondly, potatoes are initially not blessed with a robust root system so they will struggle to find the nutrient in the soil. If they don’t access phosphate to develop their roots, then the crop will be hampered in its need to find all nutrients as well as taking up water from the soil.

The best way to secure a good supply of phosphate to establish potatoes is to spread it when it’s needed most and provide two forms of phosphate - one that is immediately available to the crop as well as a slow-release form of phosphate which will support ongoing growth. By doing this you can avoid problems with phosphate getting ‘locked-up’ in the soil and unavailable to the crop.

When phosphate is ‘locked-up’ it means that it becomes bound up in the soil as either iron or aluminium phosphate at low pH or as calcium phosphate at higher pH. By choosing a fertiliser that has been specifically designed with this problem in mind you can get around this issue. YaraMila compound fertilisers contain phosphate in the form of P-Extend which supplies available phosphate over time to avoid potential lock-up in the soil.

Another way to maximise the amount of phosphate available to your growing potato crop is to increase the amount of phosphate particles spread across your fields. In basic fertilisers phosphate is often spread as relatively concentrated DAP di-ammonium phosphate, containing 48% P2O5 so there are relatively few concentrated particles.

If you choose a compound fertiliser such as YaraMila ACTYVA S, then every single granule or prill will contain all the nutrients, including phosphate. At a concentration of 14% P205, you should get approximately three times as many particles.

Yara recommendations 

We’d recommend a compound fertiliser such as Yaramila ACTYVA S at a rate of 525 - 650kg/ha to establish a good and healthy potato crop.