Cultivation/Production, Equipment/Technology, North America, Research

Idaho potato industry benefits from state program that spurs ag innovations

Merging the world of research with the business world’s demand for practical application is a primary goal of the Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM). The IGEM program has spurred many agricultural innovations that promise to help the Gem State’s farmers and ranchers improve their bottom lines, writes Bill Schaeffer in this article for Farm & Ranch.

This past February, IGEM awarded BSU researcher Owen McDougal with a grant for about $292,000 to assist Boise-based Food Physics Group with research and development of pulsed electric field technology (PEF) to reduce acrylamide and sugars in the production of chip potatoes. McDougal is the chairman of organic, natural products, and food chemistry in BSU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Another grant of about $180,000 in 2015 was for “expanding precision agriculture market opportunities with unmanned aircraft system sensors.” ISU assistant professor Donna Delparte, in the Department of Geosciences, worked with the J.R. Simplot Co. on in-field early detection of PVY. Using drones equipped with hyperspectral imaging equipment, Delparte sought to develop a remote sensing application for early detection of PVY allowing for elimination of infected plants.

Another IGEM grant for about $414,000 was split between BSU and ISU in 2017 in an effort to develop new storage technology for potatoes and other vegetables: to test the ability of a humigator developed by Idaho Hydro Tech to remove mold spores, viruses and bacteria from the air in potato storage buildings, and to develop temperature, gas and humidity sensors to be used in a storage environment for potatoes. According to Blake Isaacs, CEO of IHT, the humigator disinfects and humidifies storage air resulting in a reduction of airborne pathogens such as silver scurf and black dot.

Source: Farm & Ranch. Read the full report here
Photo: Idaho State University associate professor Donna Delparte flies a drone over a potato field in Bonneville County | Bill Schaefer for Farm & Ranch

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