potato pour-1


Producing more calories per liter of water than most crops, potatoes are naturally water-efficient. Whether their crop is used in restaurants or retail, maintaining consistent soil moisture throughout the growing season is a key factor in producing a uniform, high-quality crop, regardless of the end market goal.

To achieve this, farm managers are aiming for at least 75% of their crop to meet retailers’ highest standards, but they'll need to be very dialed in with their applications and other extenuating circumstances to avoid over-watering and under-watering.

Additionally, water stress data can help pinpoint early-season irrigation problems before damage to the crop is visible to the naked eye.


The main risks of over-watering potatoes:

Lack of oxygen for root respiration slows plant growth, increases the likelihood of rot, and can be highly detrimental to yield and quality. This is the result when more water is applied than the crop needs and the soil can absorb. In the early season, over-watering can result in misshapen tubers. Later in the season, it increases the likelihood of powdery scab and lenticel growth.

There can also be environmental impacts such as run-off and wasted resources, as well as crop damage such as cracking.

While most growers are aware of these risks, they may overwater from fear of common scab, or unintentionally due to poor distribution of water from equipment. Even small fluctuations in soil moisture status within the ridge can lead to uneven tuber bulking, malformed tubers and growth cracks. So when using drip irrigation systems, the tape should be placed on the top of the ridge.

For improving soil moisture measurement accuracies, Ceres offers seamless integrations with the in-field sensors and other farm management platforms that you already use—including moisture probes and weather stations. Combining aerial and in-field data enhances insights on soil and overall crop health.


The main risks with under-watering potatoes:

Under-watering potatoes need to be avoided as well. In the heat of summer, under-watering causes wilt. Wilt can be apparent during a visual inspection, but growers managing large farms with varying soil types may find it easy to miss—especially when the plants are immature.

Imagery helps make the case for a change in irrigation strategy in the trouble spots. The bird’s-eye perspective allows teams to respond more quickly to water stress and irrigation issues, like plugged sprinklers. By scheduling flights and capturing imagery at key stages during the growing season, teams can monitor vegetation growth and provide the management team with information they need to correct issues before they impact the crop.

In addition to keeping irrigation equipment in good working order, canopy management is also critical to maximizing water efficiency and avoiding under-watering. Growers in hot environments need to establish quick canopy closure to minimize water loss due to evaporation.


Fast track to irrigation improvement:

Research on potatoes from North Dakota State University has shown that more frequent watering in smaller amounts is the most beneficial form of irrigation for potatoes. 

Irrigation equipment manufacturers have also made progress on features that provide more sophisticated control of pivot revolutions, allowing for faster and lighter applications that can be used to lower the temperature of the crops, reduce erosion, and improve uniformity.

Even for growers not yet ready to upgrade irrigation systems or adopt a full-fledged VRA approach, modern aerial imagery provides an efficient route to avoiding over-watering and under-watering. Precise water stress data from Ceres Imaging offers the ability to evaluate the status of the crop at a glance, strategize uniformity improvements, and quickly identify and correct irrigation issues invisible to the naked eye. To learn more, contact us.




Irrigation Water stress Potatoes Agribusiness

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The difference between Ceres Imaging and other technologies I've used is the help I get from their expert team.
Jake Samuel, Partner
Samuel Farms
With Ceres Imaging we can take a more targeted approach to applying fertilizer and nutrients.
Brian Fiscalini, Owner
Fiscalini Cheese Company
These flights can cover way more ground and provide more insight than a dozen soil moisture probes — and it's cheaper to implement.
Patrick Pinkard, Assistant Manager
Terranova Ranch
The average Ceres Imaging conductance measurement from its imagery over the season has provided the best correlation with applied water.
Blake Sanden
University of California Cooperative Extension