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Innovative Farmers: Can brackish water be used for potato irrigation?

New trials run by Innovative Farmers Field lab and funded by AHDB in the UK will research the possibility of using brackish water for potato irrigation. Irrigation plays a vital role in potato quality. Growers in areas such as Holbeach Marsh, one of the driest regions in the UK, are facing considerable economic yield losses due to common scab. Under future climate projections AHDB and Innovative Farmers anticipate more unpredictability in rainfall events, increased saline intrusion of groundwater reserves and therefore a more vulnerable freshwater supply, which could impact on potato yields in the area.

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Milestone in digital transformation for Agrico: New website now live

For potato cooperative Agrico 2020/2021 is the season of its digital transformation. The first major milestone in this process is the new www.agrico.nl website that was launched last week. As well as growing innovative varieties, Agrico has worked hard on increasing the professionalism of its organisation in recent years. A vital component of this drive is the strategic plan Agrico 2030, entitled “Good Growth.” Agrico has defined a number of ambitious goals in this strategic plan. Modernising the IT environment and data-driven operation are key to achieving these goals.

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‘What have Belgium frites got to do with a Brexit trade deal?’

The UK may have already left the EU, but talks between the two sides to secure a trade deal are still in deadlock – with both sides saying next month is the deadline to do a deal. That’s causing big uncertainty for businesses on both sides of the Channel, who could face cross-border tariffs that would make their products more expensive.One of the countries set to be hit hardest by no deal on trade is Belgium – where leading economists claim thousands of jobs will be lost

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8 ways the Internet of Things is transforming the future of farming

Smart farms are defined as using modern technology and information to manage them. There are many new technologies available for farmers to use including sensors, software, robotics, GPS, connectivity, and data analytics. Farmers monitor their crops, soil, water, and temperatures without leaving their home. This is often called IoT in farming. In this article by Varsha Ambalkar, published by The Daily Plan IoT, the author looks in more detail at IoT in farming.

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PEF technology: McCain ‘dishes up hot chips with a side of lower greenhouse gas emissions’ in New Zealand

McCain Foods’ Timaru plant is reducing its energy usage environmental impact, now looking to electrification, by installing New Zealand-first McCain proprietary technology. The business has now slashed its coal consumption by installing technology which was developed and is owned by McCain, Pulsed Electric Field technology (PEF). Contributing to the business’s global commitment to a 50 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions of our plants by 2030, the PEF system means the company will save approximately 4,800 tonnes of carbon each year.

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National Potato Council and Corteva in Kenya to introduce new technologies and train smallholder farmers

The National Potato Council of Kenya and Corteva Agriscience have embarked on plans to increase yield among smallholder farmers from 7 tonnes to 20 tonnes per hectare. The partnership intends to introduce new technologies and train smallholder farmers in Kenya on how to improve potato yields through the use of quality seed, resilient and improved varieties, pest and disease management, post-harvest management, and record-keeping.

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UK: The Great Ely Potato Race 2020 falls to Covid virus

The annual relay race which celebrates the humble potato has been postponed for the first time in its eight-year history. The contest, which is organised by Isle of Ely Produce with the help of over 30 local potato farmers, sees teams racing to the Market Place and back to the end of the High Street, near Ely Cathedral. The races will be back in 2021 with organiser Austen Dack promising a bumper day including a brand-new race on the day!

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CFAP2: USDA to host Grower Webinar

USDA is introducing a new round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2). CFAP 2 provides direct support for producers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic since April 2020. During a special webinar to be hosted on Thu, Sep 24, 2020 3:00 PM EDT, growers will be informed about expanded eligibility for certain commodities, new payment categories including a sales-based approach to specialty crops and other specific commodities, and information on how to apply.

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Branston: ‘Potato sales boom expected to continue’

Covid-19 has driven dramatic revival in potato sales, with Branston’s James Truscott confident category can continue to prosper in longer term. The managing director of one of Britain’s leading potato suppliers has tipped the sales boost for potatoes to outlast coronavirus lockdown measures thanks to what he hopes are lasting changes to people’s cooking habits, according to a report by Fred Searle for Fruitnet.

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Scottish farmers trial biocontrol methods in fight against PCN

Angus farmers are at the forefront of efforts to tackle the growing problem of potato cyst nematode (PCN) which is having a multi-million-pound impact on the Scottish industry every year. As chemical options are withdrawn from use, a group of producers and researchers have turned their attention to biocontrol methods, which include using a chitin-rich compost made from a substance that occurs naturally in shellfish.

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Potatoes New Zealand issues technical bulletin on Potato Tuber Moth management

As New Zealand Spring and Summer rolls towards potato growers, so too do the myriad of pest and disease management activities. One of the greatest challenges especially for growers, is the control of Potato Tuber Moth (PTM). Potatoes New Zealand’s recently completed PTM literature review looks at the various control approaches to this pest and suggests an integrated approach to PTM management. The review of scientific publications from the last 10 years on potato tuber moth research, focusses on several management options.

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New potato packing facility in Australia

Australia potato supplier, Pye, will invest $35 million in a new potato packing facility at Parilla, 210 kilometres east of Adelaide in South Australia’s Mallee. Pye group director, Mark Pye, said the new washing and packing facility at Parilla will double the production capacity of the company’s existing Virginia potato packing facility, and will “feature the best available optical grading and automated packing technology to revolutionise the way in which we process potatoes.”

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Researchers find new way to protect plants from fungal infection, including late blight of potatoes

Widespread fungal disease in plants can be controlled with a commercially available chemical that has been primarily used in medicine until now. This discovery was made by scientists from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the University of the State of Paraná in Brazil. The team administered acetohydroxamic acid onto the plants, a substance also used to treat harmful bacteria in the human stomach, and which is known to inhibit the breakdown of urea. The acid was also found to be effective against numerous other pathogens which cause diseased plants, for example, late blight in potatoes.

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Kenyan scientists develop potato varieties resistant to PCN

Scientists in Kenya have reportedly developed potato varieties that are resistant to potato cyst nematodes (PCN) in what promises to change fortunes of farmers in the country and across Africa, according to a news report by Xinhua. The scientists from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in a statement on Tuesday said besides resistance to PCN, the new varieties are early-maturing.

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UK: AHDB’s ‘Agronomy Week 2020’ to be hosted online

Agronomy Week will run from Monday 30 November to Friday 4 December. It will comprise a series of webinars aimed at agronomists on important issues in contemporary agronomy. This years’ conference will be entirely online and free to attend. To help delegates get the most out of this new format we have expanded the event into a week-long programme of digital events called ‘Agronomy Week’. Delegates can register for a series of webinars and interactive discussion sessions covering important issues on contemporary agronomy.

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‘Yet another one…’ Chinese scientists report the discovery of a new potato disease

As if the beleaguered potato and its growers don’t have enough diseases to contend with, a new potato disease was discovered by Chinese researchers on potato plants during the growing season and also on tubers during the storage period. The disease was identified in potatoes cultivated in Nileke County, Qitai County as well as other locations in Xinjiang province in China. The pathogen was identified by the researchers as Galactomyces candidum F12, identified on the Atlantic potato variety.

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Pringles tubes get eco redesign

They are best known for their ‘once you pop you can’t stop’ slogan. But the Pringles tube and lid which makes for the distinctive sound could be in for a change. The container is being redesigned after criticism that it was too difficult to recycle, according to a news story by The Daily Mail in the UK. Now Kellogg’s, which makes the snack, is testing out simpler cans in an attempt to make them more eco-friendly. The new cans are made from around 90 per cent paper, one with a recyclable plastic lid and the other a paper lid.

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Study: Future impact of climate change in Belgium and how it will effect the potato industry

The study “Evaluation of the socio-economic impact of climate change in Belgium” commissioned by the National Climate Commission has just been published. According to the authors of the report, global climate change in Belgium will mainly be felt through heat waves, floods and droughts. Warmer and drier summers, and milder and wetter winters are becoming the ‘new normal’. The increasing impact of drought on potato cultivation is a main concern for the potato fry industry, according to the authors of the report.

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Balancing spuds and sustainability: McCain Foods Ballarat aims high with water use reduction targets smashed

In Australia, McCain Foods Ballarat has achieved an improvement of 20% in its water use efficiency over the past 12 months – smashing the plant’s 2% target set in the recently released Be Good. Do Good. Sustainability report. The company says its focus on Growing Green and Golden stems from the company’s vision towards a low- carbon economy in Australia and New Zealand by concentrating on emissions, waste, investment in renewable electricity and more sustainable use of packaging and water.

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Discovered: A wild potato with high resistance to late blight

In a recent collaboration between the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the James Hutton institute, scientists identified a diploid wild potato with a high resistance to P. infestans, according to a press release issued by the American Phytopathological Society. “We found that the observed resistance in this wild potato was due to previously uncharacterized novel resistance genes,” explained Guangcun Li, one of the scientists involved in the study. “We also discovered that photosynthesis was inhibited to promote the immune response.”

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International trade remains slow in Britain at the start of the 2020/21 season

The latest HMRC trade data shows that exports of fresh potatoes (both ware and seed) were down significantly in July 2020 compared to the start of last season (Jul-19). According to an AHDB news report, imports of fresh potatoes (excluding seed) were also down in July 2020. For processed potato products the story was slightly different, writes Alice Bailey, Senior Analyst Potatoes. An increased volume of processed potato products have moved out of the UK, but less imported compared to July 2019.

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Canadian crop update: Outlook mixed; total production expected to be down on last year

As the first day of fall arrives, the potato crop in the country is in varying stages of growth and/or harvest, writes Kevin MacIsaac in the latest Canadian crop update issued by the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC). The general manager of UPGC says the production outlook is mixed after parts of Eastern Canada experienced one of their driest seasons on record, while growers in Western Canada work feverishly to harvest their crop from the ground after Mother Nature’s early onset of winter prevented them from doing so last year.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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