Episode 33, 4/1/21
An Experimental Cultivation Method Could Mean Healthy Potato Yield and Healthier Water
Fried, baked or mashed, we love our potatoes. What we don’t love is drinking water with lots of nitrate — a form of nitrogen that fuels a robust potato crop because it acts as a fertilizer. In the Central Sands area of Wisconsin, which is where most spuds are grown, drinking water is groundwater and groundwater can bear the brunt of unwelcome potato cultivation effects. Kevin Masarik, a researcher from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, is coming for those potatoes. He is armed with a one-row hand planter, and rye, millet and oat seeds. He’s got in mind science-based solutions, not potato-growing restrictions or even gastronomical intentions.
With two years of funding from the University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute, Masarik is pursuing what he termed an outside-the-box idea for assessing whether this tasty tuber can be cultivated in a way that reduces the movement of nitrite into groundwater.
Kevin Masarik, a researcher with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension. Photo: UW-Stevens Point
Thanks to our guest
Keven Masarik, University of Wisconsin-Steven’s Point
Marie Zhuikov | Host
Senior Science Communicator
What I do at Sea Grant
Marie writes about Great Lakes water issues, Sea Grant activities and research. She also works on podcasts, oversees the Wisconsin Sea Grant blog, and takes photos. She works in collaboration with program scientists, outreach specialists and institute staff to build water science literacy. Prior to joining Wisconsin Sea Grant in 2012, Marie worked for Minnesota Sea Grant for 15 years.