Use of soluble chemical fertilizers for crop production, particularly to supply nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, has increased potato yields and quality for several decades. Over the past 10 years, however, there has been an increased concern over the environmental impact of agricultural fertilizers, particularly as non-point sources of water pollution. Currently, nitrogen is a target for improved use efficiencies in potato to reduce potential nitrate contamination of groundwater. Phosphorus management is increasingly being examined as a potential non-point source contaminant of surface waters. Potato researchers throughout North America are conducting studies that focus on maintaining or enhancing crop production while reducing the potential of negative environmental impacts. Precision agriculture, cover crops, slow-release fertilizers, and genetic manipulation are key strategies being studied. Concurrently, new challenges are arising, such as concerns over phosphorus leaching and heavy metal contamination in fertilizers. These have the potential to restrict nutrient use in agricultural systems, requiring both potato producers and scientists to seek additional alternatives to improve nutrient-use efficiency.
- Cover crops
- Genetic manipulation
- Heavy metals
- Non-point source contamination
- Precision agriculture