Potato is among the important arable crops in the Netherlands. Dutch growers cultivate potatoes for food and non-food applications on an area of 165 thousand ha with a total yield of 7.4 million ton. Globally, potato is the fourth largest arable crop. The potato cultivation demands lots of pesticides, in comparison with other crops. Growers use these pesticides primarily against late blight (Phytophthora infestans).
A conventional field with potatoes is treated with fungicides 10-15 times a season in the Netherlands. These pesticide applications are a burden to the environment. Moreover, late blight control is costly. Control costs for Dutch farmers are estimated to be € 130 million per annum, equal to about 20% of the production costs. Worldwide, the costs associated with late blight (yield losses and crop protection costs) equal billions!
In this 10-year research project, started in 2006, DuRPh aims to develop potato cultivars with a durable resistance against late blight. This will offer opportunities to drastically reduce pesticide use in the potato cultivation.
The advantages to society of the expected project results are:
- less potato production costs
- less environmental burden
- a stimulant to fundamental research
- maintenance of competitive abilities and employment in the planting material production sector