Europe, UK, Ireland

Scottish potato industry unites to tackle pest threat

Farmers and growers are joining forces to tackle a threat which some fear could wipe out the Scottish potato industry by 2025. Experts have warned about the potential impact of the spread of potato cyst nematode (PCN).

According to a BBC report, the amount of land affected in Scotland has been doubling every six or seven years, and researchers fear the pest will cost the industry millions. It can take 30 years before potatoes can be grown again on infected land.

Jon Pickup of research group Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (Sasa) said there had been an “exponential increase” in cases of the pest in Angus, the area worst affected by the pallida species of PCN.

He said: “At the moment we’re finding PCN in about 500 hectares per annum, but the exponential spread means that by 2025 this could be at 1,400 to 1,500 hectares.

“With six-year rotations, the management decisions we make now will only change things from 2026 onwards.”

He said it was estimated that £5m to £6m of seed potatoes a year could be lost by 2025.

Read the full BBC report here