Scotland’s staple crops, including potatoes and raspberries, face challenges due to increasing global temperatures. To address this, scientists are harnessing the power of genomics, building on advances from the 2000 plant DNA sequencing breakthrough. The “phenomic revolution,” led by the James Hutton Institute, employs cutting-edge technology to study crops’ genetic responses to environmental changes, paving the way for a resilient agricultural future amidst the climate crisis.
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The UK’s agricultural sector is undergoing a transformation with the establishment of a new network of post-harvest research facilities. This initiative, resulting from the collaboration of ADAS, CHAP, NRI, and JHI, aims to enhance crop storage and post-harvest approaches. The facilities will focus on advanced research areas like supply chain tracking, energy-efficient storage management, and sustainable packaging. The goal is to bolster food supply chain resilience, reduce waste, and optimize food value chains.
On-farm sustainability reporting: Syngenta, Potato Sustainability Alliance to support growers, processors
Syngenta Canada has partnered with the Potato Sustainability Alliance (PSA) to enhance on-farm sustainability in potato production using Syngenta’s SOA standard and Cropwise Sustainability app. The collaboration aims to provide over 550 North American potato growers with actionable sustainability insights. After thorough evaluation, PSA chose Syngenta’s app as their self-assessment tool. The initiative supports growers in meeting sustainability reporting needs and industry requirements.
In Bolivia’s high-altitude Potosí region, erratic weather and climate changes threaten the staple potato crop, essential for local families. Historically resilient, potatoes have thrived here for 8,000 years. However, a recent “heat dome” raised temperatures to 45°C, causing Bolivia’s highest winter temperature. Potosí faces severe drought, reducing water flow significantly. Many lack daily water access, hindering crop irrigation. Silvia, a local farmer, lost most of her potato yield, leading to increased food expenses. The looming El Niño may worsen the climate crisis impacts.
‘Finding a needle in a potato sack’: Potato farmers prioritize inspection systems to ensure food safety
Farmers in North America, especially from Prince Edward Island (PEI), are prioritizing potato safety due to past incidents of metal contaminants in produce. In response, Fortress Technology introduced the Phantom metal detection system, designed to handle the unique challenges posed by potatoes. This system ensures high standards in the potato supply chain, emphasizing shared responsibility in food safety and the importance of upstream inspection to protect brands and guarantee consumer-safe products.
The Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, will host the International Potato Technology Expo on February 22 & 23, 2024. This biennial event, celebrating over two decades, covers the entire potato industry, from seed to packaging. Shawn Murphy, Show Manager, highlighted its significance, noting attendees from all over sharing innovations. The 2024 edition introduces a two-day conference by the PEI Department of Agriculture & the PEI Potato Board. Over 100 exhibitors have registered, with others encouraged to join.
TNA Solutions, a food processing and packaging firm, completed a significant project for the Egyptian Army. Commissioned by the Egyptian NSPO in 2020, TNA introduced two advanced potato product production lines. The first line, for Hash Browns and Rosti, produces two metric tonnes hourly, while the second, for French Fries and other items, yields 10 metric tonnes. TNA oversees the entire process, including advanced distribution and packaging. Collaborating with Optima Solutions, TNA aids the Egyptian Ministry of Defence in self-sufficiency. The project’s June 2023 completion signifies a new era, with plans for further expansion.
Processing potato growers in Britain had a positive experience with a new potato sprout suppressant last year, with the product achieving good sprout control in very challenging circumstances. However, pre-pack growers are worried about its use after treatment in some cold stores and on some varieties was linked to costly tuber defects during its first season of use. In August 2022 when 1,4Sight (1,4-dimethylnaptheline or DMN) was approved for use in potato stores, it was warmly welcomed by the potato industry.
World Potato Congress celebrates and highlights potato production breakthroughs in several countries
The World Potato Congress (WPC) highlights global potato industry successes on its website. For example, In Kenya, the potato sector is evolving with increased mechanization, leading to higher yields and reduced losses. In Uganda’s Zombo District, collaborative efforts have introduced advanced agricultural practices, benefiting small-scale farmers. These stories along with others from countries like Ethiopia, the Philippines and Yemen, underscore the importance of collaboration, innovation, and knowledge-sharing in the potato industry.
NEPG raises alarm on falling potato prices: Challenges and hopes in Northwestern Europe’s agriculture
Northwestern Europe’s potato prices have sharply declined, causing concern among growers. The Northwest European Potato Growers (NEPG) highlights that the drop is due to increased contracted volumes and a rise in non-storable potatoes. While the market shows low demand, the NEPG advises growers to remain cautious and emphasizes the long-term market’s strength. They stress the importance of storage and urge stakeholders to ensure a conducive environment for future cultivation.
McCain Foods has launched a podcast, “Hot Potato,” focusing on regenerative agriculture and its role in tackling climate change and reshaping the food industry. The series aims to clarify sustainable farming’s complexities and highlight its importance in addressing climate-related challenges. Max Koeune, CEO of McCain Foods, praised the initiative and its diverse guests. The inaugural episode, “Can we farm without harm?”, discusses the impact of industrial agriculture on climate, biodiversity, and soil health, emphasizing the need for sustainable farming methods.
World Potato Congress Inc.’s President, Peter VanderZaag, welcomes Tuberosum Technologies Inc. as a Silver Sustaining Partner. Tuberosum, a Canadian based potato R&D company, emphasizes efficiency and sustainability in potato production. They run breeding programs in Canada, the Netherlands, and Chile, aiming to develop resilient potato varieties with higher yields and resistance to stresses. These efforts not only benefit growers but also reduce environmental impact. Tuberosum’s goal is to enhance global food supply through traditional breeding methods.
In 2022, the Northwestern U.S. witnessed a surge in potato sales, according to a report by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NAAS). Idaho’s sales rose by 35% to $1.41 billion, while Oregon and Washington saw increases of 12% and 33%, respectively. Although Idaho and Oregon’s potato production decreased by 9% and 2%, Washington’s grew by 4%. Collectively, these states contributed 61% to U.S. potato production. However, overall potato processing across eight states dipped by 1%.
The global frozen potato market is projected to reach $92.63 billion by 2030, up from $65.06 billion in 2022, according to The Insight Partners. This surge is driven by the growing demand for ready-to-eat foods and the popularity of convenience items. Key industry players are expanding through mergers and innovative product launches. The rising number of dual-income families and single households further fuels the demand for frozen potato products.
The GRIMME Group showcased its equipment innovations at the VDMA Information Exchange in Kassel on 26-27 September 2023. They introduced ‘ChangeSep’, a hydraulically interchangeable separator for modern GRIMME harvesters, allowing a swift change between finger web and deflection rollers. This innovation caters to the diverse needs of farms cultivating various crops on different soils. Another highlight was ‘SmartFold’, a patent-pending folding mechanism for mounted windrowers, designed for efficient potato harvesting. Both ‘ChangeSep’ and ‘SmartFold’ received silver medals from the DLG ‘AGRITECHNICA Innovation Award’.
On Thursday, September 14 2023, potato breeder Royal HZPC Group B.V. became the target of a form of cybercrime. A large amount of money was transferred by criminals to their bank account. On Tuesday, September 26 2023, Royal HZPC Group B.V. announced with a reasonable level of certainty that the money is in blocked bank accounts and out of the hands of criminals. The company has started the necessary legal procedures to recover the money and assumes it will be successful.
Scientists at Nigeria’s National Roots Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) are urged to enhance potato varieties’ resistance to diseases for sustainable food security. This call was made during the Potato Green Field Day at Plateau State University, emphasizing the role of technology in boosting potato yields and farmers’ economic power. The events aim to promote new technologies and Good Agricultural Practices. Potato late blight, a significant threat in Nigeria, destroyed 32,000 hectares of potatoes in Plateau State in 2022.
HarvestEye, a crop insights tool, has appointed Harry Tinson as its new general manager. Tinson brings expertise from global B2B sales in engineering and transport. Previously overseeing JCB’s international network and working with Wrightbus, he will now focus on enhancing HarvestEye’s technology and expanding its market presence. HarvestEye offers visibility on crop variability during harvesting. Tinson aims to establish HarvestEye as a global leader in crop insights. Vidyanath Gururajan, HarvestEye’s managing director, highlighted Tinson’s experience as crucial for their growth ambitions.
Ontario’s Alliston region is buzzing with potato harvest activities. Dr. Eugenia Banks of the Ontario Potato Board highlights the importance of maintaining tuber temperatures between 10-15C for storage, cautioning against warmer temperatures that can cause rot. P & K Vander Zaag Farms reports a healthy Lamoka crop, while in Melancthon, Andrew Tupling’s Caribou russets yield impressively. However, growth cracks are more prevalent this year across varieties.
Researchers at Northeastern Agricultural University in Harbin, China, examined the distribution and growth of potatoes in salt-affected regions. Potatoes face challenges in saline soils, impacting growth and yield. Salinization affects over half of the world’s cropland, leading to significant economic losses. Salt stress in potatoes results in reduced quality and yield. Advances in potato genome research have identified genes and pathways related to salt tolerance. The study emphasizes the need for salt-tolerant potato varieties, especially in regions with saline-alkali conditions.
Kiremko, a leader in potato processing, strengthens ties between India and the Netherlands through sustainable practices and innovation. During the Dutch trade mission to India, Kiremko formed key partnerships, notably with Asandas and Haldiram/SK International, both for flake lines with a 2,400 kg/hr capacity. These collaborations aim to revolutionize potato processing in India, emphasizing Kiremko’s commitment to sustainability and customer satisfaction.
Crop.zone, a leading innovator in sustainable agtech solutions, has partnered with John Deere to introduce Dual.Volt.24M, a system for electrical and herbicide-free plant care spanning 24 metres. This innovation led to their nomination for the DLG Agrifuture Concept 2023 award. The system’s unique feature is its adjustable applicators and camera-controlled row application, ensuring precise plant care without soil disruption. Their collaboration emphasizes both companies’ dedication to sustainable agtech. Crop.zone will begin pilot testing in 2024, inviting interested farmers to participate.
The Government of Spain has authorized the importation of potatoes from the UK to the Canary Islands, excluding Kent due to the detection of the Colorado beetle. This decision is based on assurances from the UK’s phytosanitary authorities that the pest hasn’t established itself and that the UK has taken measures in affected areas. Imported potatoes must undergo cleaning to remove soil and harmful organisms, with a soil limit of 0.5%. Packaging regulations have also been set.