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Optimising plant bed performance through adaptive research with the Australian sweetpotato industry

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Henderson, C., Dennien, S., Langenbaker, R., Brown, P., Best, T., Coleman, E., Prichard, M. and Villordon, A.Q. (2016) Optimising plant bed performance through adaptive research with the Australian sweetpotato industry. Acta Horticulturae (1118). pp. 103-108. ISSN 0567-7572

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1118.15


A key driver of Australian sweetpotato productivity improvements and consumer demand has been industry adoption of disease-free planting material systems. On a farm isolated from main Australian sweetpotato areas, virus-free germplasm is annually multiplied, with subsequent 'pathogen-tested' (PT) sweetpotato roots shipped to commercial Australian sweetpotato growers. They in turn plant their PT roots into specially designated plant beds, commencing in late winter. From these beds, they cut sprouts as the basis for their commercial fields. Along with other intense agronomic practices, this system enables Australian producers to achieve worldRSQUOs highest commercial yields (per hectare) of premium sweetpotatoes. Their industry organisation, ASPG (Australian Sweetpotato Growers Inc.), has identified productivity of mother plant beds as a key driver of crop performance. Growers and scientists are currently collaborating to investigate issues such as catastrophic plant beds losses; optimisation of irrigation and nutrient addition; rapidity and uniformity of initial plant bed harvests; optimal plant bed harvest techniques; virus re-infection of plant beds; and practical longevity of plant beds. A survey of 50 sweetpotato growers in Queensland and New South Wales identified a substantial diversity in current plant bed systems, apparently influenced by growing district, scale of operation, time of planting, and machinery/labour availability. Growers identified key areas for plant bed research as: optimising the size and grading specifications of PT roots supplied for the plant beds; change in sprout density, vigour and performance through sequential cuttings of the plant bed; optimal height above ground level to cut sprouts to maximise commercial crop and plant bed performance; and use of structures and soil amendments in plant bed systems. Our ongoing multi-disciplinary research program integrates detailed agronomic experiments, grower adaptive learning sites, product quality and consumer research, to enhance industry capacity for inspired innovation and commercial, sustainable practice change.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Horticulture and Forestry Science
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Methods and systems of culture. Cropping systems
Plant culture > Food crops
Plant culture > Horticulture. Horticultural crops
Plant culture > Vegetables
Live Archive:07 Jul 2016 05:02
Last Modified:02 Nov 2022 02:47

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