8 March 2002

Safety comes first with use of spud dusts

POTATO growers switching back to dust formulations of anti-rhizoctonia seed treatments should consider fitting dust applicators to planters and must always ensure adequate operator protection, says the British Potato Council.

The advice follows a big switch back to dusts after crop damage caused by some liquid formulations on some varieties in adverse conditions. As a result some products have been withdrawn, while others have had label restrictions tightened.

The good news is that dust formulations have been developed to perform well despite large variations in tuber dose and coverage, notes BPC agronomist Rob Clayton.

But short delays in emergence are still possible.

He urges operators to read label instructions and to ensure face masks are used, plus the usual protective clothing, and to work with adequate ventilation.

Exposure is best minimised by using an on-planter applicator, he notes.

But those are better suited to cup planters, fitting can be difficult and reduced doses become more difficult, he admits. &#42