Our New Zealand “number 8 wire” ingenuity has come up trumps again; this time with a Kiwi invention called the Potato Calculator which is being used all over the world.

Australasian and American potato growers are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in fertiliser and irrigation costs thanks to new technology developed New Zealand’s Plant & Food Research.

Scientists there have developed the potato calculator, a decision-support website that enables growers to optimise nitrogen and water use as well as predict yield and maturity dates.

The calculator considers application schedules for nitrogen and water, highlighting deficits or unnecessary surpluses as well as resulting yield and is helping to take the guesswork out of crop management.

The calculator was described last week at the seventh World Potato Congress in Christchurch.

The calculator has been extensively trialled and is now being marketed by Plant & Food Research business unit, CropLogic. Peter Roborgh, CropLogic’s general manager, says the calculator has received an excellent response from growers and processors alike.

“Growers appreciate accurate input into optimal application schedules for fertiliser and water as well as yield prediction,” he says. “Processors appreciate knowledge of crop size and the harvest dates for optimum quality and it helps with their planning in the factories.”

He says the calculator helps to satisfy mounting consumer expectations that their food is grown in an environmentally accountable and sustainable way. Its accuracy in optimising production significantly reduces the potential for over-use of water and fertiliser.

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