POTATO GROWERS will be able to identify fields in need of nematicide applications more accurately after the launch of a new test from NIAB (National Institute for Applied Biology).

The soil sample test detects the presence of TRV (tobacco rattle virus) – the cause of Spraing, explained NIAB‘s plant pathologist David Kenyon.

“Applying nematicides is a big expense. Where Spraing is a risk I would advise people to get samples tested.”

Previous tests have only been able to detect potential virus vector species, but this new test can identify actual virus presence, he said.

“This enables farmers to make informed management decisions about whether to spend thousands of pounds on applying nematicides.”

The test takes four weeks and growers should be getting soil samples tested now in preparation for spring sowing, NIAB advised. Further details are available from www.niab.com.

A molecular test for TRV in tubers is also available and similar testing services are available from the Scottish Agricultural College.