Guidelines for Disposal of Cull Potatoes

These guidelines are designed to reduce the risk of contamination of land and water resources which may result from the improper disposal practices. 

The permanent disposal or temporary storage of cull potatoes on the ground surface may constitute an environmental or public health threat. 

The burial of cull potatoes may result in the contamination and degradation of groundwater and surface water resources.

What are cull potatoes?

Any combination of waste material, including soil, rock, potato waste (including sprouts) or other substances, where the potato waste content exceeds 10 % by volume is considered to be cull potatoes under these guidelines. These guidelines apply to the practice of land spreading or burial of cull potatoes.

What legislation applies to these guidelines?

The following guidelines for the disposal of cull or unmarketable potato products are made under the authority of Section 3 of the Prince Edward Island Environmental Protection Act.

What are the requirements for the disposal of cull potatoes?

The following options are presented in order of preference for disposal:

  1. Use of cull potatoes as livestock feed, feed for anaerobic digesters, composting, etc., should be the first options investigates for disposal;
  2. The spreading of cull potatoes on frozen land during the winter where:
    1. Areas subject to application should be a minimum of 100m (328 feet) from any well or water supply;
    2. Spreading should not be within 15m (50 ft) of a public roadway;
    3. Potatoes should not be spread on slopes greater than 6%;
    4. Areas subject to application should be located a minimum of 100m (328 feet) from any watercourse or wetland;
    5. Areas subject to application should not include drainage swales or land that would obviously support concentrated surface water flows;
  3. The burial of cull potatoes shall only be permitted when all other diversion options have been considered, but are not achievable, or when the potatoes are required to be buried by a Federal or Provincial regulatory authority (e.g. regulated material such as affected potatoes, associated potato debris, processing waste, etc.)  
    In this instance the burial site must meet the following conditions:
    1. The site shall be located a minimum of 150m (500 feet) from any watercourse or wetland and at least 300m (1000 feet) from any well or water supply.
    2. Burial of potatoes shall occur a minimum of 1.2m (4 feet) above the bedrock or the maximum groundwater elevation.  Prior to excavation of a burial pit, a test hole shall be dug to determine the depth to bedrock and the maximum groundwater table.

Further Considerations:

  • The excavation of a series of shallow trenches or a large shallow pit area with a minimum depth is preferred. This will assist in more rapid degradation of the potatoes
  • Deep pits with large volumes of potatoes have a higher probably of negatively affecting groundwater
  • Disposal pits should not be sited upslope of nearby existing wells or areas of possible future well field development
  • Disposal pits should be sited as close to groundwater discharge areas as possible

Notwithstanding this policy, the Watercourse and Wetland Protection Regulations do not allow for the burial or deposition of cull potatoes in watercourse, wetlands or their regulated 15 m buffer zones.  

The Excavation Pit Regulations do not allow for the burial of organic material (e.g. cull potatoes) in active or abandoned excavation pits.  

Any deposition of cull potatoes or associated waste material in wetlands, buffer zones or excavation pits could result in the incident being referred to the Agriculture Enforcement section of the Department

What is the deadline to dispose of cull potatoes?

All potatoes must be disposed of or covered by June 15th

Can potato waste be buried in abandoned or operating excavation pits?

No.  Potato waste is organic and being that all excavation pits have exposed bedrock in them, which creates an easy access to the groundwater table, the organic waste can contaminate it.  For that reason, the burial or storage of organic waste in an abandoned or active excavation pit is a violation of the Excavation Pit Regulations.

For more information, contact:

If there are questions with regards to this cull potato policy or how it is to be applied, please contact:

Shawn Hill, Environment Officer
PEI Department of Agriculture
5th Floor Jones Building
(902) 368-4880

Department of Agriculture
Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Change    

Published date: 
October 18, 2023

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