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Guide: How to sample soil for potato cyst nematodes

Potato cyst nematode costs the British potato industry more than £25m each year and accurate soil testing is a critical aid in managing the pest to minimise crop losses. At low levels of infestation, crops show no symptoms and the danger is that populations could thrive, reaching levels that can be difficult to manage.

Therefore, knowing if the pest is present in a field, and at what level, will allow farmers to take action to manage it. This could be through the use of rotation, biofumigant crops or variety selection, as they react differently to infestations. While some varieties can tolerate the pest, they don’t reduce numbers. Other varieties can restrict nematode reproduction, thus helping manage numbers.

The key steps on how to do sampling right are provided in the AHDB’s new PCN: sampling and laboratory guidewhich aims to standardise sampling and analysis of soil for the pest. The document provides a step-by-step guide to the sampling and testing process.