THE UFU Potato Policy Committee met recently with Jim Crummie and Rodney Martin, DARD Agri-food Inspection Branch, to discuss new requirements under the EU PCN Directive, 2007/33/EC.
This directive requires that Member States carry out a survey of land used for ware potato production locally.
Committee noted that DARD plan to change the manner through which they identify the necessary random sample to meet this requirement.
DARD propose that,
• Land for the ware survey will be selected from Single Farm Payment (SFP) returns where the applicant has indicated that the land is being used for potatoes in that year.
• A list will be electronically generated from SFP returns to select approximately 15 fields at random for the survey. This will ensure that around 0.5% of the land used for ware production in Northern Ireland is sampled as required by the Directive.
• Only fields used for ware production in 2012 will be selected as land used for seed production will not be included in the survey. The landowner will be informed and a soil sample taken for analysis.
• The land owner will be informed of the results of the test in writing. Under current arrangements if viable PCN cysts are found then a notice will be issued to the landowner prohibiting the growing of potatoes in this land. This Notice will remain in force for a minimum of 15 years and until it has been cleared by a retest. In exceptional cases where the infestation is very low the Department will resample in five years.
• Land under Notice will be inspected annually to ensure compliance with the conditions of the Notice.
• Members discussed how the PCN Directive allowed for a Control Programme to be implemented. Such a programme would allow land which is found with PCN as the result of an official test to be used to grow ware potatoes as part of an officially approved control programme. It should be noted that currently the Department does not allow land which was intended for seed potatoes and found with PCN to be used to grow ware potatoes under any circumstances. DARD have proposed to offer landowners, where fields have been found with PCN as a result of being selected for the ware survey, the option of growing ware under an official control programme. The landowner will be asked to submit a control programme in writing to the Department who will consider each proposal on a field by field basis. If the proposal is likely to reduce the level of PCN infestation in the field the Department may permit ware to be produced under defined conditions.
Committee noted that Control Programmes are likely to be most effective when infestation levels are low and consist only of Globodera rostochiensis. In such an event growing a crop of a resistant potato variety will significantly reduce PCN populations. However it was noted that Control Programmes are less likely to be effective where Globodera pallida species are present and that the number of varieties resistant to pallida is low.
Adrian Jamison, Chairman of the UFU Potato Policy Committee, encourages all who have any questions or concerns about the PCN ware survey to contact DARD immediately to ensure compliance with the new regulation and that ultimately farmers/landowners understand their obligations going forward.