Soil testing is under way to reduce impact of potato diseases

Shaun Weston19 Jul 2013

The work of a multi-year research project, undertaken for the Australian potato industry, will come to fruition this month with the launch of the project's DNA soil testing service, which will help the industry to curb the impact of soil-borne diseases.

"The commercial rollout of this much anticipated service will help growers to reduce the impact of soil-borne diseases such as Powdery scab, Root knot nematode and Black dot, which, up until now, have caused economic losses of up to $50m annually to the processing potato sector in particular," said Ausveg spokesperson Luke Raggatt.

Ausveg is Australia's leading horticulture body representing more than 2,000 potato growers.

"The soil testing service will enable growers to better identify areas in their fields that are at risk of specific diseases, and through this knowledge, make more informed planting and disease management decisions," said Raggatt.

The DNA soil testing service was developed as part of a collaborative project led by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), and has included research conducted at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture and the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

The tests involve extracting the DNA from soil samples to assess the risk of disease based on pathogen levels in the sample.