22 March 2002

Blight warnings on your mobile phone

POTATO growers with internet access will be able to receive free independent blight warnings for their specific postcodes by e-mail or mobile phone from Apr 8.

The BlightWatch service (www.potatocrop.com) issues warnings of Smith periods or half Smith periods as they occur based on data from over 200 Met Office weather stations.

That data is interpolated to give up to 650 individual area warnings according to the first three letters of the postcode.

Up to 10 postcode areas can be registered so growers can monitor neighbouring regions or rented land locations, says web-site co-ordinator Jo Palmer.

"We are also considering showing locations of actual blight outbreaks, as is already done in a number of European countries."

Growers should not rely on the system alone, acknowledges the Met Offices Ian Barrie, who developed the service with ADAS.

"It is a support system. The Smith period warnings should be used with the agronomy advice on the site," he says. &#42