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Fifty Years of Potato Storage Research at Sutton Bridge

Fifty Years of Potato Storage Research at Sutton Bridge
April 17, 2014
This week saw the Potato Council division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of its Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research (SBCSR) facility, near Spalding in Lincolnshire, United Kingdom.
The leading post-harvest applied research centre for agricultural storage in the UK, SBCSR (then known as Sutton Bridge Experimental Station) was opened for business on 15 April 1964 by Baroness Mary Soames, daughter of Winston Churchill (who is now in her nineties).

SBCSR works to improve the quality of produce, especially potatoes, through a better understanding of storage. A major focus is to ensure technology transfer from its latest research and development findings and so develop the way businesses store their crops.

The potato industry in the United Kingdom has experienced many changes since that opening day in 1964. The total planted area in Great Britain has shrunk by 45% (down from 270,000ha to today’s 120,000 ha), while the average area per grower has risen from 4ha to 53ha. Increased efficiency has seen the average potato yield jump from 24 to 45 t/ha. Total potato production, 5.5m tonnes in 2013, stood at 6.5m tonnes in 1964.

“With greater potato yields driven by better agronomy, crop protection, fertiliser regimes, new varieties and changes in irrigation, potato storage has become increasingly important – around 3.5m tonnes of potatoes are currently stored across GB each year, in approximately 2,500 stores,” said Adrian Cunnington, Potato Council’s Head of SBCSR.

(Click picture to watch video)

Video introducing the facilities and capabilities of Sutton Bridge

“Looking forward is vital. Last autumn, we launched our ‘Storage 2020’ campaign which focuses on how GB’s potato storage can be made more successful and sustainable to ensure that industry remains fit-for-purpose into the next decade,” he added.

Potato Council will be inviting friends, colleagues and levy payers, past and present, to Sutton Bridge on Thursday 3 July to celebrate 50 years of storage research. This special day will showcase storage development, knowledge exchange past and present and will include the latest best practice. An industry dinner, or ‘Summer Potato Feast,’ will be held the night before, in King’s Lynn. Further details and booking information will be made available soon.
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AHDB Potatoes (formerly known as Potato Council) is a public body working on behalf of potato growers and purchasers to promote British potatoes.