Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.) are grown extensively throughout the Pacific northwestern United States as a high value crop in irrigated rotations with other row crops such as wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and both field and sweet corn (Zea mays L.). Center pivots are the predominant irrigation systems. Soil texture ranges from coarse sands to finer textured silt loams and silts and can vary within one field, particularly in fields with hilly topography. Site specific management is being evaluated as an approach to help to optimize inputs (water, seed, agricultural chemicals) to maintain or enhance yield and reduce potential negative environmental impacts from these farming systems. Currently, variable rate fertilizer application technology and harvest yield monitoring equipment are commercially available for potato. Variable rate seeding and variable rate irrigation water application technologies are developed but not fully commercialized and variable rate pesticide application equipment is in development. At the Irrigated Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Prosser, Wash., we have a team of research scientists, interested individuals from local industry, and other key organizations (e.g. local conservation districts) who are working together to evaluate different site specific technologies, improve the ability to use available tools, and to improve decision-making ability by conducting research both on farm and in research plots.
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