Water Risk for Potato Production

An excess or shortage of water can result in losses in potato yield and quality.

As part of PepsiCo Inc.’s continuous effort to maintain a reliable supply of potatoes for the Frito Lay business, this project evaluates the following aspects of potato production in selected areas of the United Kingdom, India and the United States:

  • Predictability of water shortage or excess during the potato planting season through the development for statistical models.
  • Risk assessment on potato yields based on water and temperature variability.
  • Evaluation of prognostic business plans that will counteract the climate risk for PepsiCo Inc. operations.

In recent years, the UK has experienced wetter and colder days during the potato-planting season (April to September), compromising a reliable supply.

In India, Columbia Water Center researchers have gathered precipitation and temperature data to build a statistical/predictive model to predict rainfall conditions for Maharashtra, Karnataka and Punjab. We are developing precision models to aid in the assessment of water risk on a daily resolution scale.

PepsiCo Inc.’s potato contract-farming land in Hastings, Florida in the United States is vulnerable to wide swings in precipitation and temperature.  CWC is also working here to develop a predictive model for aiding in the assessment of water risk.

Developing models that give farmers daily information may reduce uncertainty and give farmers more time to adjust irrigation schedules. Eventually, it may be possible to develop an application to generate model predictions of climate conditions in other geographical regions using a weighted combination of the Columbia Water Center’s statistical model and several different general circulation models (GCMs) to generate results.