The Philippine Star

Cost-effective potato production through aeroponics


A disease- free and costeffect­ive potato seed production technology is being optimized at the University of the Philippine­s Los Baños (UPLB) through the project, Potato Seed Production through Aeroponics.

Headed by UPLB’s Jesse Descalsota, the project aims to produce 40 tubers per plant, compared with the convention­al method, which produces eight tubers per plant.

The project, funded by the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Agricultur­e, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Developmen­t, is expected to end in 2017. Its ultimate goal is to produce planting materials that are disease-free, costeffect­ive, and more accessible to farmers.

Aeroponics has the potential to raise farmer profits and to make local potato production competitiv­e given the cost reduction and productivi­ty increase associated with this technology.

Providing cost- effective planting materials is crucial to increase the income of local potato farmers especially when they are competing with imported potatoes from China and other countries.

The ideal source of planting materials for potatoes in the Philippine­s is from tissue cultured plantlets, stem cuttings from tissue culture- derived plants, and mini tubers from field-grown potatoes.

Tissue culture is considered as the most effective method in terms of disease control; however, it is expensive. Because of this, farmers resort to the less costly method of stem cutting using rejected tubers but risk field contaminat­ion from soil- borne pathogens. The pathogens can diminish yield and adversely affect the quality of potatoes. The rise of disease incidence in the field forces farmers to abandon their farms and set up new areas for the succeeding crops.

Potato seed production through aeroponics is a soilless method of producing potato seeds. Plant roots are enclosed in a dark compartmen­t and kept moist by a mist device containing water and nutrients.

Aeroponics requires smaller space and potentiall­y lower input costs like labor, nutrients, water, and chemical pesticides while producing more seeds relative to convention­al techniques.

Ongoing field tests in Benguet State University have produced 19 tubers per plant, in UPLB 15 tubers per plant, and in DA region 10 – Northern Mindanao Agricultur­al Crops and Livestock Research Complex 25 tubers per plant.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines