"Environment" research area

Using Beneficial Microbes to Protect Minnesota’s Potato Crops from Disease

Primary Investigator - Linda KinkelPrimary InvestigatorLinda Kinkel
Scott Bates (Postdoctoral Research Scholar)
Industry PartnersNA
Award Type: Seed Grant - Postdoctoral Research Scholar

Problem: Soilborne plant pathogens limit Minnesota potato production every year. To combat the pathogens, chemicals are applied to the soil in a process called fumigation. However, soil fumigation is expensive and kills a large proportion of beneficial microbes that counteract potato plant pathogens, resulting in an increase in the intensity of disease effects.

Solution: The Kinkel lab is researching how to apply certain groups of microbes, coupled with soil nutrient amendments, to support existing soil microbiomes in potato plants before or after soil fumigation. Researchers will apply microbes to 10 different potato growing sites across Minnesota to assess the disease rate and microbial composition of the soil after application. 

Impact: A healthy potato plant-soil microbiome will reduce disease risks and result in higher crop yields. Additionally, the need for soil fumigation will be reduced, helping farms save money while keeping their potato plants healthy. The microbial inoculations will improve the ability of indigenous potato plant microbes to survive.