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Mesh nets could be potato industry’s saviour

Special mesh nets are being tested in a bid to save the potato industry from an insect that's already cost it 60 million dollars.

The potato tomato psyllid arrived in New Zealand in 2008 and has since been causing havoc for the industry.

The industry, which produces around 2.8 billion potatoes each year, has been using chemicals to try control it, but that has environmental implications.

But now a Canterbury scientist believes he can keep it under control by installing a seemingly basic mesh net.

Dr Charles Merfield is running the first trials in the world to install the mesh on potatoes, and his initial tests are looking good.

"It's literally like a fly screen for a crop. You put this stuff over your crop, you seal the edges down and the pests can't get in," Dr Merfield said.

"The psyllid is a really nasty pest. It attacks pretty much everything in the tomato and potato family and it can cause serious crop loss.

"So far the control of psyllid by the mesh has been really exceptional. We've almost completely eliminated the psyllid."

Plant and food scientist Jessica Dohmen-Vereijssen said: "That will mean a lot for the grower because they don't have to pay more for insectides, but also better for the environment and also the other insects that are around in potato crops."

Special mesh nets are being tested in a bid to save the potato industry from an insect that's already cost it millions of dollars. Source: 1 NEWS


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