Chemistry is fast disappearing from farming’s toolbox, but researchers and farmers are working together to trial and demonstrate alternative solutions to protect the high health status of Scotland’s seed potato industry, as Ken Fletcher, editor of The Scottish Farmer reports in this news story. Scottish Agronomy has been working with Jim Reid, of Milton of Mathers Farm, near St Cyrus, who has been involved with seed potato trials for over a decade.
Europe, UK, Ireland
Scientists pioneer new potato-powered building material for future home construction on Mars
University of Manchester scientists have created a new material, dubbed ‘StarCrete’ which is made from extra-terrestrial dust, dehydrated potatoes, and a pinch of salt – and it could be used in future to build homes on Mars, according to a news release issued by the University this week. StarCrete has a compressive strength over twice as strong as ordinary concrete. Starcrete made from moon dust is even stronger.
AVR announces several new upgrades to its Puma harvester
With the Puma 4.0 AVR introduced a robust, high-tech harvester. “On our journey to further perfect the Puma 4.0, we have provided the several upgrades for the 2023 Pumas,” the company recently announced in a press release. Some of these include a major software upgrade of the ACC digging unit’s depth control mechanism, and the AVR Comfort Drive, which is now standard on the 2023 Puma 4.0
Remach appointment strengthens Haith’s European presence
Haith Group has appointed Remach BV to represent it in Holland and Belgium. Duane Hill, Haith’s managing director, says the two companies have a great deal in common. Remach’s owner, Krijn van Groningen says his company is pleased to become the exclusive importer and dealer of Haith Group machinery for the Netherlands and Belgium.
Ireland: Minister opens €3.1 million investment aid scheme for seed and chipping potato sector
Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, announced the opening of the 2023 Scheme of Investment Aid for the Seed Potato and Chipping Potato Sector today. In addition to providing support for the seed potato sector, the scheme has been expanded in 2023 to include growers of Irish chipping potatoes.
Researchers pioneer new eco-friendly plastic alternative made from potato starch
The Spanish University of Alicante’s Waste, Energy, Environment and Nanotechnology (REMAN) research group has developed a process to obtain a water-soluble plastic material based on potato starch. It will soon be introduced on the market through the UA technology-based company Solublion. This new material is also compostable and biodegradable, so it is suitable for use as a flexible film, preferably in bags and packaging, and has great advantages over existing materials.
Commercial farming in Ireland ‘simply not viable’ this year, says IFA president
Many Irish potato farmers “will be forced out of business” unless the prices charged by farmers are increased, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association. As Robert Besser reports for Big News Network, Farmers’ Association president Tim Cullinan said commercial potato farming is “simply not viable” this year due to increased land rentals, fertilizer, fuel, and storage costs.
British farmers warn of potato and veg shortages later this year
Farmers are warning the food shortage crisis will get worse later in the year, due to the prolonged dry spell and a shrinkage of irrigated crop production, as Philip Case reports for Farmers Weekly. A combination of a lack of rainfall over the past eight months, rising input and energy costs and stagnant supermarket prices is forcing growers to cut back on crop production.
UK: Behind the scenes at Lancashire’s premier potato peddlers
Fresh Fylde and Fabulous in Greenhalgh is a potato-grower and manufacturer in Britain which produces some 1,000 tonnes of spuds every single week, supplying the UK food sector with potatoes for their chips, mash, fries, roasties, baked potatoes, rostis, crisps, hash browns, and the odd dauphinoise.
The ‘Windsor Framework’: Its impact on seed potatoes
On 27 February, the European Commission and the UK Government reached a political agreement in principle on the so-called Windsor Framework. Europatat says it welcomes this positive development and “we hope for a swift implementation of the new Framework”.
TOMRA Food offers flexible sorting solutions for Simplot’s french fry production line in Tasmania
Simplot sought a complete turnkey solution for their french fries production line in Tasmania. Fortunately, TOMRA Food offered sorting solutions that could be integrated with some of Simplot’s existing equipment. The sorting solutions offered by TOMRA Food enable Simplot to adjust their sorting procedures according to specific standards, ensuring they meet their customers’ targets while maintaining flexibility.
Researcher seeks input on factors influencing farmers’ adoption of Smart Farming Technology
Grainne Dilleen, a researcher at South East Technological University in Ireland, is conducting a Ph.D study to investigate the internal and external factors that influence farmers’ intention to adopt Smart Farming Technology (SFT). Specifically, she is interested in the role of trust in technology providers and the influence of the farmer’s network on the adoption decision. Grainne looks forward to hear from potato farmers worldwide.
‘WASTELESS’: Europatat participates in EU project to measure and monitor food waste
A new EU-funded project, WASTELESS, aims to develop tools and recommendations for measuring, monitoring and ultimately reducing food loss and food waste by at least 20% annually. The multidisciplinary consortium comprises 16 beneficiaries, 12 affiliated entities and 1 associated partner each from 14 countries. Europatat is proud to be part of this new project, the industry body says in a recent news post.
Newtec’s LASER FLOWPACK700: An innovative and sustainable packaging solution
Newtec recently announced that it will showcase its innovative LASER FLOWPACK700 packaging solution at the upcoming MacFrut event, taking place from May 3rd to May 5th at the Rimini Expo Centre in Italy. The machine is a state-of-the-art, fully automatic laser welding solution that is ideal for ultra-thin film packaging applications, including fruits and vegetables such as potatoes and carrots.
Boosting crop health with tailored nutrition and biologicals: Insights from a British potato grower
A Yorkshire farmer in Britain credits the use of tailored nutrition and some biologicals with boosting the overall health of his potato crop. Richard Smith farms 3,000 acres of combinable crops including 320ha of potatoes. “Biologicals have a part to play in general crop health – keeping them in the mix is important, it’s just vital that you understand where best to use them in your programme,” he says.
HZPC awarded Royal predicate on 125th anniversary: A recognition of its impact on the international potato industry
On Monday 27 February 2023, potato breeder HZPC celebrated its 125th anniversary. For HZPC, this was a day with an extra golden edge. Dr. A.A.M. Brok, Commissioner of the King of the Province of Friesland, also presented HZPC with the certificate for the predicate “Royal” on Monday afternoon in Joure. With the predicate Royal, HZPC has now become “Royal HZPC Group”, including the subsidiaries STET, HZPC, and ZOS.
‘Growing the Potato Crop’: Irish potato manual a ‘game changer’ for East African farmers
Irish international development agency Vita launched the book ‘Growing the Potato Crop’ by former Teagasc stalwart and renowned potato expert John Burke a few years ago. The book, which is expected to be a significant game changer for potato farmers in East Africa, focusses on improving potato productivity in sub Saharan Africa. Iverk Produce has uploaded the 395 page book as a pdf file on its website.
Registrations for the upcoming Europatat Congress now open
The next Europatat Congress will take place on 5, 6 and 7 June in Gdańsk, Poland. The congress will be hosted by the Polish Potato Federation. Europatat organises its Congress every year in a different European location. Registrations for the 2023 Congress is now open.
Tips for proper seed storage to ensure quality: Advice from a potato storage specialist
Adrian Cunnington of Potato Storage Insight warns that due to the unprecedented lack of certainty in the UK industry and delays in decision-making, there may potentially be a lot of short-term storage of seed this spring. Therefore, it is crucial not to compromise seed quality by being complacent about how it is handled, even for the shortest periods.
HZPC strengthens presence in China with new potato varieties and strong local partnerships
Ton Frijters has represented HZPC in China for many years, visiting numerous potato growers and experiencing the challenges of strict coronavirus measures in the country recently. Nevertheless, he remains optimistic about the future and is looking forward with enthusiasm to 2023. “The demand for HZPC varieties in China is continuously growing,” Ton affirms.
IFA: Energy Support Scheme to be extended for Irish farmers
The retail and food service sector trade remains buoyant, the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) says in its weekly potato market report. It was announced this week that the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme will be extended, to 31 May 2023, and enhanced, including by reducing the threshold for qualification from a 50% increase in electricity or gas costs to a 30% increase.
The TOMRA 3A: Belgian farmer finds an ideal solution to clean potatoes going into storage
Eric Simoens is an arable farmer and owner of Hove Ter Hille in Jabbeke, located in the polder region near the Belgian coast. Last year, Mr. Simoens’ farming operation experienced serious problems dealing with an excess of soil and dirt clods during and after the potato harvest. To solve the dirt problem and clean the potato crop before storage, Eric Simoens’ farming operation contacted TOMRA and eventually acquired a TOMRA 3A sorting machine with excellent results.
Latvian potato growers hopeful for new season
Recently, the staple of the Latvian diet – potatoes – experienced one of the steepest price jumps in the past 10 years, reaching an average increase of 50%. Growers are now preparing for the new season in the hope that weather conditions will be favorable enough to finally produce good results after two years of poor harvest, Zemgale Television reported on February 22.
Managing Director at Scottish Agronomy: ‘Finding the balance between saving the planet and feeding the world’
Agriculture is a fundamental part of Scotland’s economy and modern farming activities can have a profound effect on our landscape, communities, and diversity of landscape, writes Adam Christie, Managing Director at Scottish Agronomy in a recent blog post on the farmer-owned cooperative’s website. With the pressure of feeding the eight billion mouths now on the planet, up from three billion as recently as 1960, “the difficulty is going to be finding the balance between saving the planet and feeding the world,” Mr. Christie says.
HZPC expects turnover to grow during 2022/23 financial year
Potato breeding company HZPC, is poised to achieve its expected results for the financial year 2022-2023. HZPC expects its turnover to grow 10% over last year (then 352 million euros) with a gross margin of 66 million euros (during the last financial year it was 63.9 million euros). Says Gerard Backx, CEO of HZPC: “The increase is mainly thanks to areas outside Europe, where licensed cultivation takes place. Mainly in Asia and America.”