Production/Agronomy

Insight in potato crop development during extreme weather conditions

A Belgian project is gaining insight in potato crop development and quality during extreme weather conditions. An agricultural side experiment of the project, coordinated by Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) Remote Sensing, investigates the impact of extreme weather on the cultivation of potatoes. Some 500 smart sensors were installed in 295 potato fields across Flanders.

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‘UK Robust Potato Pledge 2021’: Retailers commit to sustainable potatoes

Several key UK retailers have pledged to sell disease resistant organic potatoes, boosting sustainability and farm resilience for producers. Organic certification body the Soil Association developed its ‘UK Robust Potato Pledge 2021’ in a bid to help growers move away from potatoes that are susceptible to blight. Signees to the pledge have agreed to favour organic spuds that have been bred to be blight resistant.

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‘Root Zero’: Carbon neutral potatoes from Puffin Produce a UK first

The home of the much-loved Pembrokeshire potato has added a new iconic product to supermarket shelves with the launch of the UK’s first carbon neutral potato. ‘Root Zero’ planet friendly potatoes are grown in Pembrokeshire by Puffin Produce. The spuds are certified carbon neutral and grown using sustainable farming practices to remove carbon dioxide, create healthy soil and increase local biodiversity.

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RNA-based biopesticide technology delivers 98% mortality of Colorado potato beetle

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.

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Analysis: Importance of science and technology in modern farming

Scientific discoveries and technological novelties greatly assist agribusiness, making it faster, more accurate, cost-effective, and efficient. At the disposal of present-day farmers, there are eco-friendly techniques, smart machinery and robots, resilient planting materials, and advanced sensors. While scientific and technological advancements improve current farming practices, agricultural challenges nurture scientists’ zest for yet more beneficial contributions in the future.

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Specialist shares views on cover crops, soil health and fertility

On this episode of the SpudChat podcast, Ryan Barrett, Research Coordinator and Project Lead, Agronomy Initiative at the Board talks to Dr. Judith Nyiraneza with Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada in Charlottetown about some of her research projects, including cover cropping, building soil health and fertility through rotation crops, measuring the effect of manure in potato rotations, and more.

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AsiaBlight Network takes its expertise to the field

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.

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XAG demonstrates potential of fully autonomous drones for potato farmers

Flying into the Andes mountains of Ecuador, XAG Agricultural Drones are recently introduced to a series of on-farm spray trials for high-altitude specialty crops. The demonstrations on potato fields have presented the high potential of fully autonomous drones in reducing labour cost and agricultural pesticide exposure. The agile agricultural drone would be a powerful tool to promote sustainable farming in Ecuador’s 3.2 million hectares of cultivable soil.

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South Korean company EGG Microtubers received PotatoEurope’s Golden Innovation Award

During a special award ceremony on Wednesday September 1st, a professional jury awarded the PotatoEurope Gold Innovation Award to the Microtubers of E Green Global (EGG). Based on three criteria, namely innovativeness, potential impact in the potato market and applicability in the potato sector, the jury came to the decision to declare EGG Microtubers as the winner of the Golden Innovation Award.

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UK importer of seaweed-based biostimulant wants to establish network of regional agronomists

Agronomists interested in finding out more about biostimulants and the effect they can have on UK crops are being encouraged to contact one of Europe’s leading brands of natural fertilisers. The UK importer of seaweed-based biostimulant, Algifol, wants to establish a network of regional agronomists to receive insights and feedback from them and their clients. The company is offering free product to those that get involved.

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Alternative potato crop desiccation technology awarded

crop.zone, the new hybrid electric solution for alternative crop desiccation and weed management, has been voted the most innovative new technology in potato production by potato professionals worldwide. In addition to the Audience Award, NUCROP won the silver medal at the Potato Europe Innovation Awards out of 30 entries. Both prizes were presented on 1 September 2021 in Lelystad, the Netherlands.

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CropX and PepsiCo México to help Latin American potato farmers to improve farm management practices

AgAnalytics company CropX and PepsiCo México expand their collaboration to help PepsiCo’s Mexican potato farmers reduce water and fertilizer consumption, improve soil health, lower greenhouse emissions and improve crop yields. By collaborating with CropX, PepsiCo can now help growers in Latin America improve farm input application efficiency and become environmentally sustainable.

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Idaho potato growers brace for ‘inferior crop’

Randy Hardy, of Oakley, is not alone among Idaho farmers in his assessment that the potato crop he’ll soon harvest will be the worst of his career. Spud farmers conducting test digs or early harvest are uprooting plants supporting no tubers. Where there are spuds, there are fewer than normal, and most of the tubers are undersized and misshapen.

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New weapons for tracking late blight

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.

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Spud advice: Managing nutrition during tuber bulking crucial

With tuber bulking being such a critical, yet energy sapping period in potato crop development, now is the time to consider nutrition applications to support crop health and maintain tuber growth. If crops are lacking potassium and sulphur at cell expansion during tuber bulking this can lead to various issues, pointed out FMC crop nutrition technical manager, Chris Bond.

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‘Potatoes in Practice 2021’ to focus on new varieties, IPM and trade challenges

‘Potatoes in Practice’, the UK’s largest field event for potatoes, is set to return on 12 August 2021 to Balruddery Farm (Angus, Dundee). It will be hosted this year with a slightly different format to allow for social distancing. There will be no seminars this year: it’ll be all about the plots, and field exhibits where the trade can interact and re-connect to discuss new varieties, IPM and the challenges of the trading environment in a COVID safe environment.

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McCain’s Farms of the Future: ‘Mapping out a greener future’

McCain Foods’ Farm of the Future in the Canadian province of New Brunswick seeks to sustain potato production and battle climate change in the years and decades ahead. During its first year, McCain’s Canadian Farm of the Future will seek to incorporate precision agriculture technologies like remote sensing, experimenting with seeding practices and implementing controlled traffic on a field.

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Cover crops: Measuring nitrogen in green manures

Both chemical fertilizers and cover crops can help build the nitrogen content in soil. But cover crops come with many other benefits, like improving soil structure and boosting beneficial microbes. Katherine Muller and her team are working on strategies to measure nitrogen fixation in breeding programs for two common cover crops: crimson clover and hairy vetch.

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Latest global potato statistics now updated

Dear Readers, I have updated the latest available FAOSTAT global data for potatoes – related to “production” and “area harvested”, and present the results in this news post. It now includes statistics for 2019. Total world production totalled 370,436,581 metric tonnes, produced on 17,340,986 hectares.

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Desiccating potato crops: What are the options in 2021?

With diquat no longer available (Northern Ireland or Republic of Ireland), Irish potato growers will have no option but to look at other crop desiccation options over the coming weeks. This issue was the focus of a farm demonstration, hosted by the College of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) at its Greenmount farm in Co. Antrim this week, which Agriland’s Richard Halleron went along to.

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Research breakthrough creates crops that can grow 50% more potatoes, rice

Manipulating RNA can allow plants to yield dramatically more crops, as well as increasing drought tolerance, announced a group of scientists from the University of Chicago, Peking University and Guizhou University. In initial tests, adding a gene encoding for a protein called FTO to both potato and rice plants increased their yield by 50% in field tests. The plants grew significantly larger, produced longer root systems and were better able to tolerate drought stress.

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Expert: ‘Will potato late blight ever go away?’

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.”

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Canadian potato growers hope mustard and arugula combo will prevent pests, make soil healthier

New research on Canada’s Prince Edward Island is using mustard and arugula to tackle pest problems in potato fields with a side benefit, farmers hope, of making the soil healthier at the same time. As the CBC’s Nancy Russell reports in this news story, the mustard in the field is called caliente rojo, and is specially bred to have high levels of glucosinolates, a natural component in many pungent plants including mustard, cabbage, and horseradish.

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Saving our soil: New microbial technologies that keep soil healthy and us fed

Soil microbes are hard to see and understand, yet we know that they have a significant impact on plant health, your health, and the Earth’s health. New microbial research and technologies are beginning to change how we understand and direct the soil microbiome to increase soil fertility and plant health, which then help our understanding of your microbiome. In an article published by Genetic Literacy Project, Lucy Stitzer discusses four examples of new technologies from specialist companies that make our soil healthier.

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Indian scientists developed smartphone app to help potato farmers detect late blight disease

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.

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