Climate change is making it harder for farmers to grow enough food to feed their families. A new potato variety called CIP-Matilde, developed by the International Potato Center (CIP) with support from the Crop Trust, is the latest example of using the wild relatives of crops to adapt our agriculture to new threats. CIP is preparing to release CIP-Matilde in Peru.
Pests and Diseases
Renaissance BioScience Corp., a leading global bioengineering company, is pleased to announce that an independent test of its environmentally safe, RNA-based biopesticide technology conducted on Colorado potato beetle (CPB) larvae resulted in 98.3% mortality and greatly reduced the amount of plant damage caused by the beetle. The proof-of-concept test applied Renaissance’s proprietary yeast-based RNA interference technology.
In response to the late blight disease of potatoes, the AsiaBlight Network formed a coalition of farmers, scientists, and government officials to develop an integrated approach to managing, and eventually eradicating, late blight disease with an aim to improve nutrition and food security for billions throughout Asia.
Potato tuber moth can be a potato producer’s nightmare. InteliGro in South Africa devised an effective monitoring system not only help to control this pest successfully, but allows producers to manage risks and reduce input costs over time. The project has since gained tremendous momentum and is currently an integral part of the service and decision-making support InteliGro offers in South Africa’s Sandveld potato-production region.
Potato farmers face many challenges. One tiny, yet devastating, pest is the Colorado potato beetle. It can cause immense damage to potato crops. It’s also notorious for becoming resistant to chemical insecticides. In a new study, published in Crop Science, researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) describe genetic tools to develop potato varieties with improved natural resistance to the potato bug.
Because potato growers need to identify and manage diseases in their fields, the AI-powered mobile app PlantVillage Nuru has been expanded to include them also. More than two million farmers in East Africa who depend on potatoes will be able to point their smartphones at a plant and receive an instant disease diagnosis through the app. It has been expanded to include potato late blight (Phytophthora infestans) and early blight (Alternaria solani).
BASF Canada Agricultural Solutions has received registration from Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) for Veltyma Fungicide. Veltyma contains the unique active ingredient Revysol that provides broader, stronger, and longer control against various diseases. Veltyma is registered for use on multiple crops including potatoes, corn, wheat and soybeans.
Research scientist Dr Barbara dos Santos Correia, with support of B-hive Innovations, has been successful in her application for a Future Leaders Fellowship and will receive nearly £675,000 to support her TuberSense project – a four-year research programme that aims to detect diseases and defects in potato crops, using volatile biomarkers and innovative gas sensors to reduce food waste across the supply chain.
Potato growers and agricultural machine builders in Biddinghuizen in the Netherlands have come up with a way to deal with colorado potato beetles without using pesticides. Infestations by colorado beetles, a North American import, have been increasing in Europe because of rising temperatures. To remove the colorado beetle and its ravenous larvae, all the farmer has to do is to attach a custom built machine with rotating plastic flaps to a tractor and swat them off the plants.
Recently released EPA draft Biological Evaluations find three widely used insecticides are “likely to adversely affect” (LAA) plants and animals that are considered endangered. Each of the three insecticides are a neonicotinoid used on a variety of crops, turf, and ornamentals, among other residential and commercial indoor and outdoor uses. Imidacloprid is commonly applied as a seed treatment and is a widely used insecticide in North America. The EPA estimates imidacloprid is applied to 65% of Michigan’s potato acres.
Maine potato farmers might have a quicker way to protect their crops from dangerous diseases, thanks to a passionate dog trainer and her charges. When she first heard that no one had ever taught dogs to detect potato diseases through careful, odor-based training, Sanford native Andrea Parish decided to become the first to do it. Her dogs can stiff and detect all three strains of potato virus Y as well as bacterial ring rot.
A North Carolina State University team has developed quick diagnostic tests to detect plant diseases before they show symptoms in the field. In particular, they have worked on technology for identifying Phytophthora infestans, which causes late blight in tomatoes and potatoes. This article highlights how that technology works and describes the benefits for producers.
Greater understanding of the biology of one of the most destructive plant viruses to potato crops will be the focus of a research hub at the University of Maine that is part of a new $6.1 million institute focused on virology and host-virus dynamics, the University says in a news release. Data from studies of all virus systems will be compared and integrated to generate Rules of Life that drive variables such as species jump, virus harbor state, and more.
A major new project will tackle pests in potatoes through the protection of clean land and the management of land already infested with pests. The project will focus specifically on tackling potato cyst nematode (PCN), which is becoming an increasing challenge with its presence in some fields across Scotland.
The Spornado, a simple and passive spore catcher, was recently showcased as one of Canada’s top 101 Most Innovative Predictive Analytical Companies by Futurology.life. The Spornado Sampler is described as “an effective, low-cost tool for growers to better predict crop disease, and take preventative action.” The sampler identifies crop disease in the air – long before it’s seen on the crops.
Cedric Porter, editor of World Potato Markets, now hosts a new podcast on behalf of BASF in the UK – ‘Perfecting Potatoes Together’. In the first episode of the new podcast, Porter talks to Dr David Cooke, research leader at The James Hutton Institute, and Paul Goddard, BASF’s value chain and stewardship manager as they discuss late blight’s evolving population.
Results of last season’s alternaria (early blight) monitoring in British potato crops has further reinforced the pattern of earliest infection from A alternata, with A solani typically coming into crops later in the season. “This season’s weather conditions have also seen a very high risk of late blight developing,” says Syngenta’s technical manager, Michael Tait. “It’s essential for growers and agronomists to maintain a high level of protection against infection.”
A blight-resistant gmo potato variety help farmers in Uganda to defeat late blight and change their fortunes
Successful innovation for agriculture will depend on thorough and careful understanding of the aspirations of beneficiaries and the challenges farmers face. It entails putting them at the center of these innovations, according to this blog post by the International Potato Center (CIP). As part of its work to research solutions addressing hunger and poverty, CIP and partners worked in Uganda to develop and test a new type of blight-resistant potato, which may not need any fungicides.
Researchers unveil innovative technology to treat plant pathogens and pests, including zebra chip disease
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) announced recently that they have found an innovative way to treat pathogens and pests in potato, citrus trees, and tomato plants without the use of antibiotics, zebra-chip disease in potato. They found that plants showed significant reduction of each pathogen or symptom development in response to FANA treatments.
Andrivon Didier, Research Director at INRAE, France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment, discusses the existential threat of potato late blight in a recently published ebook article. What can be done to stop it though? According to Didier, the answer to controlling blights is Integrated Pest Management (IPM). He further explains: “A more complex strategy relying on a combination of control methods, such as prophylaxis (sanitation), resistant cultivars, biocontrol, decision support systems and precision agriculture.”
Breeders in Britain believe they have the tools to stay one step ahead of late blight in potatoes, despite concern about new and more aggressive strains emerging across Europe. Since 2000, researchers have had technology that allows rapid identification of any genetic changes – or new “clones” – in populations of Phytophthora infestans. In the Netherlands, Wageningen-based Solynta’s research team lead Michiel de Vries says it is now up to the breeding companies to develop resistant varieties.
Organic potato crops have been hit by a blight which means this year’s harvest may be only a quarter of the normal yield, organic farmers trade organisation Bionext has said. Farmer Annewillem Maris from Dinteloord in Noord Brabant, who stands to lose some 30,000 kilos of potatoes, said the disease would be eradicated in a few years’ time when new, resistant varieties come in. ‘But for now I will lose a huge amount of money,’ he told broadcaster NOS.
A good spraying programme could help keep disease pressures at bay, agronomists have warned. As Claire Taylor reports for The Scottish Farmer, dry conditions experienced this April, followed by a very wet May, has resulted in taxing conditions for potato and cereal growers UK.
Scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) have developed a smartphone app for automated disease detection in potato crops using photographs of its leaves. “Automated disease detection can help in this regard and given the extensive proliferation of the mobile phones across the country, the smartphone could be a useful tool for potato farmers in this regard,” said Mr. Joe Johnson, Research Scholar, IIT Mandi.
It has long been a mystery how this microscopically small organism and other members of the Phytophthora genus mechanically gain entry through the protective layer on the leaves of crops. In a unique collaboration, Wageningen University & Research experts in plant pathology, cell biology and physics have now found an answer to this question. Their discovery also provides new leads to making the control of Phytophthora more effective, more efficient and more sustainable on the long term.
Crop insect guru Dan Johnson spoke about the importance of good sampling techniques at the Farming Smarter summer Field School in Alberta recently. Johnson, who is a pioneer in the field of crop insect forecasting and a world respected specialist in grasshoppers and potato psyllids in particular, said the key to good assessment within a farmer’s field is understanding the difference between “accuracy” and “precision.”