Research

Potatoes SA is dedicated to advancing the potato industry through fostering innovation and promoting scientific research. Our research section serves as a platform to showcase groundbreaking studies, innovative technologies, and cutting-edge discoveries that drive the progress of potato cultivation, processing, and utilisation.

By exploring the latest research findings in areas such as breeding and genetics, disease management, crop protection, and sustainable farming practices, you can gain valuable insights into emerging trends and technologies that shape the future of the potato industry. These findings not only impact the industry but also contribute to improving crop yield, enhancing quality, and addressing global challenges related to food security and sustainability.

To ensure the industry's competitiveness, Potatoes SA collaborates with renowned scientists, agricultural experts, and industry leaders. This collaboration enables us to bring you the most up-to-date and credible research in the field. 

Through these research efforts, we aim to keep you informed about the latest advancements and provide practical solutions for enhancing productivity and sustainability.

In particular, our research programmes recognise the importance of understanding the effects of climate change on potato production. This understanding is crucial as it allows us to assess and adapt to the implications for resource utilisation. By monitoring inputs, assessing resource efficiency, and developing alternative strategies when necessary, we strive to equip the industry with the necessary tools to remain competitive and resilient in the face of changing environmental conditions.

With our commitment to scientific research and continuous improvement, Potatoes SA is at the forefront of driving innovation and progress in the potato industry. Join us in exploring the latest research findings and discover how they contribute to the sustainable growth and development of the industry.

Our Innovation Focus Areas

At Potatoes SA, our commitment to advancing the potato industry is underpinned by four key focus areas:

1. Alternative Uses

Traditionally, lower grade potatoes have often been underutilised or even discarded due to cosmetic imperfections or size variations that make them less suitable for standard packaging or fresh produce markets. We are currently exploring innovative ways to maximise the value of these potatoes; helping to minimise waste and reducing the environmental impact associated with their disposal . These could include :

breakfast bar

Breakfast bars

Harnessing the nutritional content of potatoes, we're exploring the creation of innovative breakfast bars. These bars could provide a convenient and nutritious option for consumers, promoting a healthier lifestyle while utilizing potatoes that might not meet traditional market standards.

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Nutritional supplements

Low-grade potatoes, while not ideal for standard packaging, still contain valuable nutrients. Our research team is investigating the development of nutritional supplements derived from these potatoes, contributing to the health and well-being of consumers in a sustainable manner.

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Processing and value
added products

Through advanced processing techniques, we aim to transform low-grade potatoes into a range of value-added products. This could include dehydrated potato snacks, potato flour, or other innovative items that cater to diverse consumer preferences.

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Animal feed

Recognizing the nutritional value of potatoes, even in their lower-grade form, we are exploring the potential for repurposing them as high-quality animal feed. This not only supports the livestock industry but also enhances the overall circularity of our agricultural practices.

By tapping into these alternative uses, we not only contribute to sustainability but also enhance the economic viability of potato cultivation. Farmers stand to benefit from diversified revenue streams, reducing dependence on traditional markets and increasing resilience in the face of market fluctuations.

2. Data and Digital

In the dynamic landscape of agricultural research, the Potatoes SA team stands at the forefront, adeptly harnessing the power of data and digital technologies to drive innovation and efficiency. Our unwavering commitment to staying abreast of the latest advancements in the digital realm is a cornerstone of our research strategy, poised to reshape how we understand, cultivate, and optimise the potato industry. This commitment extends to reducing risk through data-driven insights, supporting better decision-making throughout the entire agricultural value chain

Precision agriculture

Precision Agriculture
and Data-Driven Insights

Smart farming systems
We are actively exploring the integration of smart farming systems, leveraging sensor technologies, IoT devices, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to collect real-time data. This data empowers farmers with actionable insights, optimizing resource utilization, and enhancing overall efficiency in potato cultivation.

Crop monitoring and management
Through advanced data analytics, we aim to develop sophisticated crop monitoring and management systems. These systems provide a granular understanding of crop health, enabling early detection of diseases, optimising irrigation schedules, and ensuring precision in the application of fertilizers.

Digital transformation

Digital Transformation in
Potato Cultivation

Climate-smart agriculture
Our research explores the intersection of digital technologies and climate-smart agriculture. By analysing historical weather data and leveraging predictive modelling, we aim to provide farmers with tools that enhance resilience against climate change, enabling them to make informed decisions in the face of evolving weather patterns.

Crop modelling for yield prediction
Utilising advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques, we're developing crop models for accurate yield predictions. This not only assists farmers in planning and resource allocation but also contributes to overall food security by optimising production outputs.

Supply chain

Supply Chain
Optimisation

Traceability and quality assurance
Embracing blockchain technology, we aim to enhance traceability in the potato supply chain. This ensures transparency and accountability, from farm to table, and facilitates quality assurance measures, ultimately building trust among consumers.

Data-enabled market insights
Our digital initiatives extend to understanding market dynamics and consumer preferences. Through data analytics, we analyse market trends, identify emerging opportunities, and provide stakeholders with invaluable insights to make informed decisions.

3. Soil Ecology

At the heart of our agricultural endeavors lies a profound commitment to enhancing soil health through a multi-faceted approach. Understanding that soil is a dynamic, living ecosystem, we embark on a journey to elevate its vitality, focusing on three crucial dimensions: water, physical structure, and soil biology

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Water Management:

In our pursuit of sustainable agriculture, water management takes centre stage. We delve into strategies that optimise water use efficiency, ensuring a balance between irrigation needs and conservation. By adopting precision irrigation techniques and studying the intricate interplay between soil composition and water retention, we aim to mitigate water-related challenges and promote responsible resource utilisation.

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Physical Structure Enhancement

A robust physical structure forms the foundation for fertile soil. We actively explore methods to bolster soil structure, promoting optimal aeration and drainage. Through the incorporation of organic matter and cover cropping, we seek to enhance soil texture, mitigate erosion, and create an environment conducive to robust plant growth. This, in turn, contributes to increased agricultural resilience and productivity.

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Soil Biology Enrichment

Recognising the intricate web of life beneath the surface, our research extends to the realm of soil biology. We explore ways to foster a thriving community of microorganisms, bacteria, and fungi that contribute to nutrient cycling, disease suppression, and overall soil resilience. By implementing sustainable agricultural practices that nurture biodiversity within the soil, we aim to create a balanced and resilient ecosystem that supports the longevity of crops.

animal feed

Strategic Implementation:

Our commitment to improving soil health is not confined to laboratory experiments; it extends to real-world, on-the-ground practices. Through field trials, demonstration plots, and farmer outreach programmes, we seek to disseminate best practices that empower growers to implement soil-enhancing techniques effectively.

An essential component of our mission is to share knowledge and insights gained from our research. Through workshops, educational materials, and community engagement, we aim to foster a broader understanding of the critical role soil ecology plays in sustainable agriculture. This collaborative approach ensures that the benefits of improved soil health are accessible to a wide spectrum of stakeholders, from seasoned farmers to aspiring agricultural enthusiasts.

4. Shelf Life & Quality

Optimising Crop Nutrition

In our unwavering pursuit of excellence, we turn our attention to optimising crop nutrition as a foundational pillar for extending potato shelf life and ensuring product quality. Through meticulous research and field trials, we explore innovative fertilisation techniques, micronutrient supplementation, and precision agriculture practices. By tailoring nutrient management to the specific needs of crops, we aim to fortify their resilience, enhance nutritional content, and ultimately prolong shelf life

Packaging Innovation

Recognising the pivotal role packaging plays in preserving the freshness and quality of agricultural produce, our research endeavours delve into packaging innovation. We explore sustainable and efficient packaging materials that provide optimal protection against external factors such as moisture, light, and temperature fluctuations. The goal is to develop packaging solutions that not only extend shelf life but also contribute to reducing environmental impact through responsible material choices.

Logistics Excellence

Efficient logistics are paramount in ensuring that potatoes reaches their destination with minimal delays and in optimal condition. Our research focuses on streamlining supply chain processes and leveraging data-driven logistics solutions. By optimising transportation routes, minimising handling, and implementing real-time monitoring, we strive to reduce transit times and uphold the quality of produce from farm to market.

Quantifying Shelf Life

Precise knowledge of shelf life is crucial for both producers and consumers. We employ advanced analytical techniques to quantify the shelf life of various crops under different conditions. By understanding the factors influencing deterioration, we develop accurate models that assist in predicting and extending shelf life. This empowers farmers and stakeholders in the supply chain to make informed decisions, minimizing waste and ensuring that consumers receive produce at the peak of its quality.

Strategic Implementation

Our commitment extends beyond the research laboratory to practical implementation. Through partnerships with farmers, packaging manufacturers, and logistics experts, we strive to integrate our findings into real-world applications. Demonstration projects and pilot initiatives showcase the viability and benefits of our enhanced approaches, providing tangible solutions that can be readily adopted across the agricultural sector.

Currently, our research efforts are focused on the following areas:

Cultivar evaluation to maximise yield

Soil health, improvement, and conservation of natural resources

Quality enhancement

Control measures for
viruses and aphids

Water utilisation and quality

Cultivation and agronomy practices, including fertilisation and volunteer plant management

Management of soil-borne diseases, such as common scab, rootknot nematodes, powdery scab, and soft rot

Effective management of the potato tuber moth

Through these research initiatives, we aim to optimise potato production, mitigate environmental impacts, and ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

Research Overview

23 Research projects

8 Research partners

140 Potato varieties

14 Cultivar trials

0,5t/ha/year Average yield increase

Research Insights

Fact Sheets

Dive into a world of cutting-edge research distilled into clear, concise, and actionable information. These fact sheets are designed to empower farmers, industry professionals, and sector players with the latest advancements in agriculture.

Fact Sheet 1

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Fact Sheet 2

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Research Reports

Learn more about the latest breakthroughs, strategies, and insights transforming the landscape of potato farming.

Report 1

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Report 2

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