8 December 1995

Boost for organic pots

BETTER than expected potato yields and strong prices have boosted the gross margin of organic arable farming in trials at Elm Farm Research Centre.

Marketable yield hit 17t/ha (7t/acre) this year, well up on the 12t/ha (5t/acre) estimate used in the centres original calculations (Arable, Nov 10). When combined with a healthy price of £250/t, that lifted crop margin by £787/ha (£315/acre) to £2026/ha (£810/ acre).

In a rotation with red clover, winter wheat and winter oats, the higher potato figures lift the average margin from £766/ha (£306/acre) to an even more competitive £962/ha (£385/acre), explains project leader Hugh Bulson.

He considers the figures a more realistic indication of what can be achieved with potatoes. "Our own costings book, produced with the help of growers, suggests this sort of return is typical with potatoes," he says.