Teagasc: Blight-resistant GM spuds to save growers €450/ha
Potato growers could achieve potential savings of more than €450/ha if they used a blight-resistant genetically modified (GM) potato variety instead of a conventional variety.
Teagasc researcher John Spink said the biggest advantage of a GM blight-resistant potato variety would be a massive saving in the cost of blight control.
Dr Spink is one of the lead researchers on the EPA-approved Teagasc trial on GM potatoes, due to commence this autumn.
Blight chemicals cost farmers around €350/ha in a normal year, while the application of the spray costs from €150 to 200/ha.
However, in a year like this, where crops are under serious blight pressure, the cost of chemicals alone rises to €550/ha.
By comparison, blight-resistant GM potato varieties require far less spraying and the cost of chemicals could fall to €75/ha, with applications costs of €30/ha.
Annual losses due to the blight fungus in Ireland are estimated at €15m, requiring as many as 15 fungicide applications during the growing season.