The Dirty Work: Potato Case Study

Oct 26, 2016

BioFlora® was founded in 1972 with a goal to conceptualize, develop, manufacture, market, and deliver a proprietary product line to the agricultural community. Through our innovative products and programs, we provide solutions to our customers in both domestic and international markets. Today, we have over 30 unique proprietary products that benefit growers, retailers and consumers alike. Our organic and sustainable agricultural programs maximize the efficacy and efficiency of traditional agricultural inputs, while being mindful of their environmental impact.

Background Information

BioFlora’s philosophy, “Nature Knows Best®” is derived from years of experience working in the field directly with growers. We have seen firsthand which techniques create a symbiosis, between products and applications, and we are committed to developing organic and sustainable solutions to aid these symbiotic relations.
Through the partnership with the Integrated Life Science Research Center® (ILSRC), we are able to innovate and create a line of products that not only benefit the grower, but produce higher quality crops that help manage the growing issue of food shortages.

The goal through product development and testing is to increase yield in crop production and further advance technical processes in today’s agricultural industry. If you find yourself curious as to how BioFlora® products actually work, please don’t just take our word for it. Our case studies are a true testament to the continued power of our product line; one such example includes the applications of our flagship products to fields yielding the always popular potato. A trial was conducted on potatoes in Los Mochis, Sinoloa Mexico with Humega®, to determine if applications of the enhanced humic acid would improve production quality and soil structure. The trial spanned a total of nine years, from 1997 to 2006 over 150 acres.

The Purpose of Our Trials

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported that the world production of potatoes in 2013 was about 368 million tons. Out of that, over two thirds of the global production wind up on our dinner tables, with the rest being fed to animals or used to produce starch.

Potatoes contain vitamins and minerals, as well as an assortment of phytochemicals, such as carotenoids and natural phenols. These are just some of the reasons the potato has become a culinary staple around the world, even though it can be an arduous task to produce in some circumstances. Potatoes thrive in well-drained, loose soil with consistent moisture. Good ground preparation, harrowing, plowing, and rolling are always needed, which is why soil structure and viability are key concerns for growers.

Humega® is used consistently in these trials specifically for this purpose. It is a biologically enhanced humic acid, which facilitates soil tilth and boosts microbial activity. BioFlora® utilizes a proprietary extraction process that is unique to our business, which aids our approach in maintaining the integrity of the humic acid we produce. In general, recent academic studies have also discovered that humic acids not only affect soil condition, but also plant life. These organic acids increase the rate of germination, stimulate plant growth, amplify root system development and promote increased biomass yields.

Case Study 1

In Case 1, the trial was conducted in Idaho Falls, Idaho by Dr. Bryan Hopkins, a potato crop specialist, from the University of Idaho, College of Agriculture. The trial was conducted for a one year period on Russet Burbank cultivars in three separate fields. Each field was divided evenly between treated and untreated plots for comparison. The untreated field plots received a standard conventional program. The treated fields received the same treatment, with an additional application of Humega at 20 gallons per acre.

The findings of this study showed a remarkable improvement in both tuber yield and quality for the treated plants. The average total yield improvement was calculated at 68 cwt/acre or a 20 percent yield increase in the BioFlora field plots. There were consistently more 4 – 7 ounce tubers in the BioFlora plots and there was also significantly fewer malformed tubers in the treated acreage. The conclusion was that supplementing with Humega in a standard fertilization program can produce superior results.

Burbank Russet potatoes are typically medium (5 – 8 ounces) to large (9 – 12 ounces) in size. These potatoes are usually oblong or a slightly flattened oval shape, and are light to medium russet-brown in color, with netted skin, and white to pale yellow flesh. The abbreviation “cwt” is shorthand for “hundredweight” or “centum weight”. It is the US customary unit of weight or mass of various values, and is used particularly in agriculture. In this case study, 68 cwt/acre equals 680 pounds per acre of harvested potatoes.

Case Study 2

In Case 2, the trial was conducted on an Alfa potato farm located in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. The trial was conducted over a nine year period, from October 1997 to March 2006.

In this case study, Humega was applied to a 50 acre plot at 5.3 gallons per acre in the seeding irrigation. An additional 5.3 gallons per acre was applied in the auxiliary irrigation system. A control plot of 100 acres (double the size) was used as a comparison the first year.

On the treated acres, it was observed during the season that the potato crop showed more vigor and seemed to convert fertilizer better than the control. At harvest, it was noted that there was a significant improvement in the structure of the old floodplain clayey soil with fewer clods. The treated potatoes showed no bruising and had better uniformity and specific weight than the untreated field.

Production of 100 acres (control) = 1,234 tons total (12.34 tons/acre)

Production of 50 acres (treated) = 705 tons (14.10 tons/acre)

At harvest, yield was calculated at 1.76 tons per acre more in the treated plots than the untreated plots. The improved soil structure resulted in reduced clods and less crop damage at harvest. The cost of Humega® was $25.40 per acre and the gross return was $0.16 per pound on the 88 tons per acre increase. This equals a $28,160 or $563 per acre profit to the grower.

The above picture is the treated field after only two years of Humega use. Notice there are still large clods visible in the soil, but there is little clayey soil clinging to the potato surface. Soil improvements allow the field to provide better quality produce for the grower and the consumer.
The above picture is the treated field after nine years of Humega use. Notice significantly less clodding in the soil structure throughout the field. By this point, the grower was able to send produce directly to market with no dirt penalty and without washing the produce first.

Case Study 3

In March 2013, a trial was conducted on a potato field in Bogotá, Colombia. Fields were treated with a blend of Humega, Fulvex, and GOgreen to alleviate stressed plantings.

We’ve already discussed Humega, now…

GOgreen® is a matrix of freshwater green and yellow-green algae, that are grown and cultivated in state-of-the-art research facilities with a patented organic process.

Fulvex® is BioFlora’s enhanced fulvic acid product derived from humates from selected mined sites throughout the United States. It acts as a chelating supplement that transports trace minerals directly to cell metabolic sites.
The above picture shows how the stressed potato plants have not grown uniformly or as vigorously.
The above picture is the same field treated with our Humega, GOgreen, and Fulvex blend. This photo was taken only ten (10) days after the blend was applied. Notice how quickly the potato plants throughout the entire field have recovered from their stressed state in a short amount of time.
This above final photo shows the same treated field twenty (20) days after the blend application. When compared with the first photo, it is clear that the potato plants no longer show signs of stress. Additionally, production and health have improved visibly across the field.

Case Study 4

In Case 4, a trial on chipping potatoes in Guatemala was done using a BioFlora program.

Programs are tailored, event driven application strategies specific to the agricultural area, cropping system, and climate, as well as specific environmental and grower needs. In this program, the grower used continual applications throughout the growing season of the following BioFlora products:

Humega, see “Purpose of our Trials” to learn more about this product.

GOgreen, see “Case Study 3” to learn more about this product.

BioFlora Seaweed Creme®: hand-harvested, sun-dried, ground and homogenized Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed that stimulates increased flowering, fruit set, and cell density for better quality produce.

GO Isolates®: an organic-acid base fortified with two strains of the microorganisms Bacillus amyloliquefaciens and Bacillus subtilis. This product’s patented formulation prevents the damage caused by many soil-borne plant pathogens.

Several of our micronutrient and NPK products were also used. These are formulated to improve nutrient deficiencies and supply readily available nutrition to the plant: BioFlora Boron-Zinc, BioFlora Magnesium 4%, BioFlora 6-0-0 + 8% Ca, BioFlora 5-3-2, and BioFlora 0-0-25.