• Potatoes in Ireland: Sixty years of potato research and development, market evolution and perspectives on future challenges

      Griffin, Denis; Bourke, L.; Mullins, Ewen; Hennessy, M.; Phelan, S.; Kildea, Steven; Milbourne, Dan (Teagasc, 2022-02-25)
      Potato is often considered synonymous with Ireland, due to the great Irish famine in 1845, and remains the most important primary food crop in Ireland. Over the last 60 yr, the area of potatoes has reduced from 86,000 ha to 9,000 ha. This trend has occurred in most developed countries but in Ireland it is due to decreasing consumption, increasing yield, decline in seed production and potatoes no longer being use for animal feed. Significant specialisation occurred in the industry during the 1990s, with improvements in agronomy, on farm investment in storage and field equipment, consolidation of packing facilities, and a significant shift in cultivar choice, with Rooster becoming the dominant cultivar. These developments led to an increase in yield from 20 t/ha in the mid-1980s to over 40 t/ha today. Potato research in Ireland has focused on breeding, pathology and agronomy, while there have been significant changes in how knowledge is communicated to growers and the industry in this period. The industry faces many challenges in the future, largely framed by climate change, the need to reduce fertiliser and plant protection products as part of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy and industry size constraints. New superior potato varieties and novel breeding techniques will have potential to help address many challenges in combination with integrated pest management principles. Multi-actor approaches will be necessary to address all challenges but particularly to aid the industry grow and exploit emerging opportunities.