Weeds – Journal of the Asian-Pacific Weed Science Society
||Type of article
Sustainable Weed Management Options for Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) Cultivation in Assam
Rohit K. Sonawane
International Potato Center (CIP), Guwahati-781022, Assam, India
potato production, weed management, mulching, zero tillage
Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is an economically important tuber crop in Assam, in which weeds can cause productivity losses of up to 80%. This article reviews some effective weed-control techniques for growing potatoes in Assam, developed as part of the “Potato Knowledge Bank” of the International Potato Centre (CIP). During a potato’s vegetative growth, many types of weeds can significantly reduce both yields and tuber quality. Managing weeds, using different methods, is, therefore, a major component of the potato production process. Under most conditions, the critical period of weed competition for potatoes is about 25-30 days from planting.
In potato cultivation, it is important to minimize weeds before the crop emerges using an approach of Integrated Weed Management (IWM). This requires choosing fast-growing, high-yielding potato varieties, planting the crop at the right time and maintaining an ideal plant population in the fields. Added to this list are various cultural practices, which include land preparation, harvesting at the right time, the timing and placement of farmyard manure (FYM) and fertilizers, and the incorporation of green manure crops. Suitable crop rotations can also result in effective weed control in potato fields. The ‘stale seed bed’ technique is one of the best options for potatoes because it has the potential to reduce human labour and weed management costs. Soil solarization can also be a simple, safe, cost-effective and ecofriendly technology to control weeds.
Chemical weed control is also a significant component of IWM for potatoes. Molecules, such as the soil-applied, photosynthetic inhibitor – Metribuzin, are widely used for this purpose. Rice straw or water hyacinth biomasses could effectively be used as a mulching material to control weeds over conventional modes of cultivation. Potato Production through Zero-Tillage with Paddy Straw Mulch is also a highly effective way to manage weeds in potato fields.