The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre recently published the “Drought in Europe – July 2022” report, an assessment of Europe’s drought situation based on the European Drought Observatory. The analysis of the evolution and impact of the prolonged drought in the EU shows that a staggering portion of Europe is currently exposed to warning (44% of EU+UK) and alert (9% of EU+UK) drought levels.
Europe, UK, Ireland
The French government activated a crisis unit to deal with the worst drought on record, and warned conditions could get worse, as Samy Adghirni reports for Bloomberg. “This drought is the worst ever recorded in our country,” the office of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Friday.
Farmers in the UK are warning about the crops of potatoes, onions, carrots, and lettuce due to the dry weather. As Maria Daisy reports for Nokia News, conditions are having an impact on already planted crops, which is made worse by government restrictions on irrigation licenses meant to protect the water supply.
Morgan Scale is growing carbon-neutral potatoes in west Wales by using his cover crops and crop rotation to offset greenhouse gas emissions from his spuds and so produce for the UK’s first zero-carbon potato brand. His potatoes and those from five other Pembrokeshire growers are now available under the Root Zero brand throughout the UK.
When businesses behave with sustainability, it’s not only society that benefits – this can also help bring in new business. Stefaan Kennis, Director of Strategy, Market Intelligence and Sustainability at TOMRA Food, explains why – and how technologies can make this easy.
Inka Crops is specialised in the production and marketing of gourmet and alternative snacks of Peruvian origin. In 2019 Inka Crops and Elea started to cooperate, testing PEF applicability on plantain and vegetable chips, as well as Andean snacks, in Elea’s pilot testing facilities. The work has shown the potential to improve raw material slicing and product yield, reduce frying time and temperature, and enhance product texture and colour.
Every two years, several organisations from Wageningen join forces to organise the Potato Demonstration Day in Westmaas, the Netherlands. Dewulf, the full-liner in agricultural machines, will be in attendance on the 13th of August this year. Highlights will include the first international appearance of Dewulf’s latest flagship, the Enduro 4-row potato harvester. Several other Dewulf machines will also be on display.
PCN Action Scotland, a project funded by the Scottish Government are hosting an open day at a PCN trial site near Forfar, Angus on the 16th of August. The event is organised by SAC Consulting Solutions. Attendees will have the opportunity to see a demonstration of Globodera pallida resistant varieties, the difference between tolerance and intolerance to PCN and trap crops, and speak with people from the James Hutton Institute, SRUC and Scottish Agronomy about PCN trials and research.
Tim Papworth is a third-generation British potato farmer and farm accident survivor who “learnt safety by accident”. Some years ago, he was changing a light bulb in a potato store when he slipped, fell and sustained life-changing injuries, which have impacted him mentally and physically. Tim had a titanium plate fitted on one side of his skull, but fortunately made a full recovery apart from impaired hearing in his left ear.
Dutch potato wholesaler Greydanus takes steps to make its washing process more automated and sustainable
Ten years ago, Greydanus invested in a complete water purifying system for washing potatoes using purified water. As a result, this Dutch potato wholesaler uses much less water. And just as importantly, the potatoes’ quality and storability have improved considerably. The current system still works perfectly well and is entirely up-to-date, thanks to the latest technology provided by VAM WaterTech.
Potatoes in Practice, the UK’s largest field event for potatoes and a highlight of the season, brings the sector together to view variety demonstrations, learn about current and new research while viewing trade exhibits in one place. PIP is set to return to Balruddery Farm (Angus, Dundee DD2 5LJ) on Thursday 11th August 2022, when it will focus on new research and current challenges, with the support of event partners James Hutton Institute, Agrii UK, SRUC and Potato Review.
Idaho’s potato crop has caught up well after wet, cold weather during planting and emergence seasons delayed its start. As Brad Carlson reports for Capital Press, Declo-area grower Mark Darrington liked what he saw during recent test digs: tubers, in contrast to the “big crop of vines” of one variety that produced poorly in last year’s drought and early, prolonged high heat.
A Spalding farmer in the UK has told how his potato crop has grown at half the normal size and number as a result of the driest growing season in more than 40 years. As David Bosworth reports for The Lincolnite, the East of England provides vegetables for the nation, but Andrew Branton says this year’s harvest is nothing less than a disaster. “There’s just no way that crops in the UK can cope with the climate we’ve had this year – lack of water, intense temperatures – you just can’t reverse this process.”
Last month more than 2,700 farmers and growers from across Europe attended GRIMME’s first ever Farm Days event, with six machines taking centre stage at the GRIMME farm in Cappeln Germany. Over four days (21 – 24 June), GRIMME put the spotlight on a new VARITRON 470 self-propelled harvester, the EVO 280 ALL CROP two-row bunker harvester, the SELECT 200 two-row elevator harvester, the PRIOS 440 4-row cup planter and two REXOR self-propelled beet harvesters.
Tong Engineering has increased its apprentice recruitment campaign for 2022, with a variety of training opportunities available at the company’s purpose-built manufacturing facility in Spilsby. “We are proud of our established apprenticeship scheme and are very pleased that over 10% of our current workforce started with the company as an apprentice, including team leaders, managers and even directors,” says Jim Worley, Factory Manager at Tong Engineering.
A new, highly effective lure has been developed by International Pheromone Systems (IPS) in the UK that can help farmers to monitor all three types of Agriotes beetles. Agriotes beetles are one of the most economically damaging pests of arable and horticultural crops. Their slow-growing larvae (wire worms) feed on the roots of a variety of root and leafy crops including potatoes. The IPS pheromone trap was found to perform as well as other traps in the field and offers a more robust option for growers.
Agri-tech company granted funding to develop novel pre-harvest detection of wireworms in potato fields
Agri-tech research and development company B-hive Innovations has been successfully awarded funding to investigate methods of detecting and mapping wireworm populations to help manage this very damaging potato pest. The insect infestation typically goes unnoticed until harvest, by which point it can be too late and not possible to salvage the plant.
HarvestEye – a machine-learning driven crop insights tool – is taking to the European stage as it prepares to exhibit at two major potato events, Potatoes in Practice and PotatoEurope. Fitting to both existing harvesting or grading equipment, the technology provides timely insights on root crops as they are lifted – presenting growers with valuable information on the size and count over whole field, which is otherwise absent from conventional sampling.
Consumption and sales of potatoes have picked up this week in Ireland as temperatures settle back to average levels, according to the Irish Farmers Association (IFA). High temperatures experienced last week stopped maincrop growth and this may delay harvest in the back end of the year. Across Europe, temperatures have reached 40°C in places last week, expected to continue into August.
Quest for novel fungicides: Researchers exploiting soil microbiomes in the fight against potato late blight
Natural organisms found in soil and their use as novel fungicides is being explored in a new collaborative project to help farmers overcome potato late blight. The work centres on utilising the latest cutting-edge technology to analyse soil microbiomes – the complex interaction of billions of microbial organisms found within soil. The aim is to identify bacteria with fungicidal properties against Phytophthora infestans, with a view to harvesting the active compounds.
Hospitality venues could see a rise in the price of potatoes after last week’s heatwave potentially damaged the quality of some crop, a supplier has warned. As Jungmin Seo reports for The Caterer, Austen Dack, marketing manager of Isle of Ely Produce in Cambridgeshire, which supplies over two million bags of potatoes into fish and chip shops and restaurants, said the performance of later second earlies and true maincrop varieties of potato was “very much in the balance”.
Gordon MP Richard Thomson has warned DEFRA Farming Minister Victoria Prentis that the “clock is ticking” for Scottish seed potato exports as the Irish Government put in place a €3million investment scheme in their domestic potato growers in a bid to capitalise on the ban on imports of Scottish seed potatoes. Irish Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said this presents a timely opportunity for the Irish seed potato sector to develop capacity and expand
Germany has replaced Belgium as the largest buyer of Dutch seed potatoes for the 2021-2022 marketing season, as Ferdinand Woodridge reports for Dividend Wealth. He says this is evident from the final figures for seed potato exports released by the Dutch Potato Organization (NAO). Germany bought 112,300 tonnes of Dutch seed potatoes from the 2021 harvest. This is 14,000 tonnes and 14 percent more than last year.
PotatoEurope 2022: Direct farm sales, digitization in cultivation and soil erosion prevention in focus during event
On 7 and 8 September 2022, PotatoEurope, the outdoor exhibition for potato cultivation and machinery, will take place at the Rittergut Bockerode estate in Springe-Mittelrode near Hanover, Germany. The trade fair will see more than 180 exhibitors from across the entire potato chain. Special features will include a focus on direct farm sales, digitization in cultivation, and soil erosion prevention.
Gordon MP Richard Thomson has again called on the UK Government to get a deal in place that would see the resumption of exports of Scottish seed potatoes to the EU and Northern Ireland. Currently, as well as losing access to the valuable EU export market, Scottish seed potatoes are unable to be exported to Northern Ireland as a result of the UK’s Brexit deal. “It seems to me that Ministers would be knocking on an open door if they went to Brussels with it,” he said.
The European Association for Potato Research (EAPR) Council has awarded two honorary memberships to celebrate people with outstanding achievements in potato research and significant contributions to the association. Two new honorary members were announced on 7th of July 2022, during the conference dinner of 21st Triennial Conference of EAPR in the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland: Mike Storey and Kazimiera Zgórska.