Finnish Seed Centre Improving Seed Production

Published in the January 2012 Issue Published online: Sep 17, 2013
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The Finnish Seed Potato Centre Ltd has developed a new method for seed potato production. The method takes advantage of the aeroponic growing system. The method, created during a two-and-a-half-year project, is highly efficient, as it may increase the number of tubers per plant tenfold when compared to traditional methods.

The Finnish Seed Potato Centre (SPK), operating in Tyrnävä, Finland, is among the first in Europe to develop the aeroponic method to a commercial scale. The aeroponic system is based on growing the roots of the potato, dangling in the air in a dark, closed chamber, whereas the stem is exposed to light above the chamber. The roots are sprayed with a nutrient-rich solution at carefully defined intervals. The composition of the solution is tailored for each species and growth stage, among others.

A significant amount of development work was needed to innovate and build the special set of aeroponic equipment. Thanks to the equipment, the spraying of the nutrient-rich solution is fully automatic and can be strictly controlled. In addition, it allows for adjustments in the lighting environment. Seed potato production is a long process, starting with the production of mini-tubers in greenhouses. The aeroponic growing system will be applied to this particular stage. The greenhouse stage results in mini-tubers that can be propagated in the fields of SPK or its contract growers.

According to Production Manager Jukka-Pekka Palohuhta of SPK, aeroponic production has increased the number of mini-tubers up to almost 100 per each plant. Due to the new method, new promising species can be launched onto the Finnish markets faster when using Finnish seed potato stocks.

The Finnish Seed Potato Centre produces about 13 million kilos of potatoes every year, of which 7 to 7.5 million kilos are seed potatoes.