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Potato grower cuts pesticide use on Minnesota land

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. (AP) - A Fargo-based potato grower has found that using fewer pesticides is better for business.

R.D. Offutt Company cut pesticide use by 30 percent last year after installing a new system. Automated weather stations and an advanced computer program now help the company predict disease risk and reduce pesticide drift.

Offutt is currently using the system to monitor more than 3,000 acres in north central Minnesota. The company monitors its potato fields every day for moisture, plant growth and signs of disease.

Offutt is also planting potato varieties that are more disease resistant and has altered its crop rotation to lower pesticide use.

Many local residents are pleased that the potential for pesticide drift has lessened. But others would like to see the company's pesticide use cut even more.