AAS Winners that Attract Pollinators
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The Irish Potato Famine – could it happen again?

Submitted by on April 1, 2018 – 8:47 amNo Comment
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slicedpotato By Susan Fisk
Soil Science Society of America
Special to Road Trips for Gardeners

The devastating potato famine of the 1800s in Ireland that led many Irish to emigrate to the U.S. A recent blog post by the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) explains the agricultural lessons behind the Irish Potato Famine.

Starting in September 1845, a potato disease ravaged fields and left behind shriveled, inedible tubers. Scientists have since attributed the potato blight to a quick-spreading strain of a soil fungus. “A single infected potato plant could infect thousands more in just a few days,” says Jean E. McLain, University of Arizona.

In Ireland, fields generally contained one crop of one species, year-after-year: the Lumper potato. This made the plants in Irish fields more susceptible to disease. “Conditions were ripe for the fungus to thrive at the expense of farmers and their families,” McLain explains.

But this tragedy needn’t be repeated. “Armed with this knowledge, researchers and farmers alike are improving and adopting practices like crop rotation, intercropping, and increasing crop diversity.”

The Soil Science Society of American (SSSA) is an international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils.

(Photo courtesy of Soil Science Society of America)

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