CIP introduces simple, effective tool to support potato farmers

CIP introduces simple, effective tool to support potato farmers’ spraying decision, cuts fungicide use in Kenya

The International Potato Centre (CIP) has introduced a simple yet effective tool poised to assist farmers in their spraying decisions and cut fungicide use in Kenya.
The tool, a decision support tool (DST) crafted from simple card paper has been termed as a game- changer, just requiring basic record-keeping, like noting past rainfall days and the days since the lastspray.
Alternatively, for those who prefer smartphones, a user-friendly Android version is available, makingtracking and managing spray records even more effortless.
   

How the tool works:
To begin with, DST helps farmers tackle three crucial questions such as:
1.When should I apply fungicide?
2.Which fungicide is best at this time?
3.How frequently should I use it?
From here, it is simple: the farmer will have to pick the color disc for their potato variety —red for susceptible, yellow for moderately tolerant, and green for highly tolerant.
This will then be followed by checking if there has been any rain since the last spray, and note the frequency and the days since the farmer’s last fungicide application.
The DST gives the farmer a customized recommendation by adding up the corresponding numbers on the disc.

 

Field trials
Field trials in Kenya, with 71 farmers directly involved, revealed a substantial decrease in fungicide sprays per season with the DST. Number of sprayings dropped by half, from 12 to 6.
This cut the environmental impact in half (from 345 to 183 EIQ/Ha) while maintaining harvest yields as bountiful. It’s like cutting in half the harmful chemicals that used to seep into the soil, polluting water bodies, and possibly entering our bodies, all while keeping yields steady or even better.
In addition, a reduction in the number of sprayings means a reduction in the fungicide cost, labour cost and time, thus contributing to overall net returns on investment.
In addition, the DST empowers farmers to explore alternative fungicides with lower environmental footprints.

Educating farmers
DST is not just about recommendations; it is also about tailored education. It teaches farmers to keep good records, so they know exactly what and when to spray. This helps prevent wasting chemicals and keeps the environment safer.

And here’s the kicker: During periods of low disease risk conditions, characterized by low rainfall and low to moderate humidity, the DST often recommends farmers either not to spray or to apply contact fungicides- the latter are generally cheaper and environmentally friendly.

 Disease-tolerant varieties
Although the DST operates irrespective of the variety’s disease tolerance, integrating it with disease- tolerant varieties enables farmers to reduce fungicide application substantially, thus saving the environment with a similar magnitude.

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