Precision agriculture is helping farmers be more exact with inputs, like fertilizer, to help reduce excess nitrogen and greenhouse gas emissions without sacrificing yields. Steve Watts of Genesis Crop Systems recently wrapped up a precision agriculture research project with support from Prince Edward Island (PEI) farmers, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), and researchers from Dalhousie University and the PEI Department of Agriculture and Land.
Nematicides know-how: Ways to help rid your potato crops of nematodes
Many potato growers rely on nematicides to protect their crops. Following is information you should know about both fumigant and non-fumigant methods. Nematodes absorb fumigant nematicides through their body cavities, so ingestion isn’t necessary. Fumigant nematicides work best when nematodes are exposed to a lethal dose for as long as possible. The efficacy of non-fumigant nematicides largely depends on their solubility in water and persistence in the soil.
Smoke exposure linked to smaller, misshapen potatoes, according to Univ of Idaho, BSU study
Potato plants exposed to extreme smoke produced lower marketable yields than smoke-free plants, according to preliminary data from a joint University of Idaho and Boise State University study. Results differed based on variety, with heavy wildfire smoke exposure being linked to smaller Clearwater Russets and causing more unusable and misshapen Russet Burbanks. The project involved pumping artificially emulated wildfire smoke onto potato plots covered by plastic.
Ireland: Intervention needed to prevent ‘mass exodus’ of Donegal potato farmers
Urgent intervention is needed in the farming sector to prevent a ‘max exodus’ of potato farmers, that’s according to Donegal’s IFA Potato Chairman, Donald Logue. Speaking on Highland Radio’s Nine ’til Noon Show yesterday, he said while the cost of production continues to rise, this is not reflected in the marketed prices of potatoes and called for Government to take action.
‘Sometimes soils need doctors too’: FAO’s Global Soil Doctors Programme trains farmers to diagnose and heal soils
To guarantee healthy soils for sustainable agriculture and food production, you first need to know their condition. FAO’s Global Soil Doctors Programme started to do just that —assessing the condition of soils and guiding farmers in remedying soil problems. The educational material and training modules from this programme help farmers to stay vigilant and responsive to soil health, a vital component of their livelihoods.
Optimizing fertilizer timing: The key to healthier potatoes and crispier french fries
For farmers and researchers, a field is often like a giant chemistry set. The timing and amounts of different fertilizers to supply nutrients can interact with each other, the soil, and crops. For example, potassium, an essential macronutrient for crops, is often applied to a field in the form of potassium chloride. Sarah Light, an agronomy farm advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension, led a study on the timing of potassium chloride in potato fields.
NEPG: An uncertain future for the potato industry in western Europe?
Potato growers in the north western European region face several challenges in the upcoming months, according to a news release issued by the North Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) today. Certain developments in the current season have led to a seemingly uncertain future for the potato industry in western Europe, according to the NEPG. The industry organization represents Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and France.
1,4-DMN: Natural bio-control for potato storage set for international regulatory approval
Great news for potato producers! 1,4-dimethylnaphthalene (1,4-DMN), a naturally occurring bio-control that enhances dormancy, controls spouting and encourages field-fresh quality in stored potatoes, is scheduled for review and regulatory approval under the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture (FAO)’s Codex Alimentarius. The review process will take place during 2023.
Lasers, drones and AI: The future of weeding
No-one likes weeding, but new technology is helping farmers around the world tackle weeds in a more efficient and environmentally friendly way, as David Silverberg reports in a news report for BBC News. Deanna Kovar from US farming equipment giant John Deere says that the company’s new tractor-pulled weed sprayer can reduce herbicide use by two thirds. For farmers elsewhere in the world, a number of rival firms, both large and small, have developed similar smart-weeding technologies.
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.
Northeast Potato Technology Forum scheduled for March
After two years of virtual meetings, the Northeast Potato Technology Forum is excited to be back in person for 2023. The meeting will take place on March 21st and 22nd, 2023 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. This two-day event will feature presentations from researchers from the Atlantic Northeast (NB, NS, PEI, QC and ME) working in potato research and agronomy.
‘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.
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.
Canada: Alberta potato operation heading into unexplored territory with livestock, crop rotation
These days farmers are encouraged to be experimental, and to conduct trials on their own land to see what works best for them. What agronomists may not say is just how nerve-wracking it can be. And that goes double when doing something that has rarely, if ever, been done before, writes Jeff Melchior in a news article for AlbertaFarmer Express.
‘The Potato Crop’: Open-access book yields download success
Interest in potatoes is growing as more farmers, scientists, and development professionals realize those tubers can produce more food and income on the same land than most crops. Evidence of this trend can be found in the success of The Potato Crop, a 500-page, open-access book with more than 300,000 downloads since its publication in early 2020 – more than 30 times that of similar books – and frequent mentions across media and social media channels.
Researchers develop affordable biosensor to detect soft rot in potato tubers
Diagnosing latent infections in their early stages is challenging since they do not present any external visual symptoms, making detection, tracking, and control difficult. The existing detection methods are time-consuming, destructive, and have limited sensitivity for detecting early-stage infections. However, a team of researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has developed biosensors that are tailored to detect infected potatoes during storage.
UK: Suffolk’s potato sector shrinks as farmers’ costs rise
Suffolk’s potato growers are in the grip of a crisis of confidence as prices fail to keep pace with the costs they face, as Sarah Chambers reports for eadt.co.uk. Many are choosing to cut their growing areas as market forces combined with disease and weather risks make the crop less viable. “It’s not fun at the moment,” he admitted.
Canadian company solving nutrient management problems for potato growers
The Leaf Evaluated-Nutrient System (LENS) from Picketa is the first step in the company’s quest to solve nutrient management problems for potato growers through the increasing supply chain and climate challenges. Over the last year, Picketa staff have worked on developing the LENS management system. The LENS system launched a month ago, on November 15th, marking almost two years of scientific research and development.
Canada: Antioxidants, a booster shot for late blight prevention in potatoes
Dr. Bourlaye Fofana is a geneticist with AAFC in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (PEI) in Canada. He studied how selenium, a micronutrient or mineral that is found in soil, water and some foods, can be boosted in foods such as potatoes, soybean and flax. Selenium is essential to the diets of humans and animals and plays a key role in our metabolism. “Selenium is also an antioxidant, similar to blueberries, which helps reduce the risk of many diseases,” he says.
McCain Foods Sustainability Report: Key progress and opportunity for sustainable, regenerative food production
Today McCain Foods Limited (McCain) released its Sustainability Report, underpinning its commitment to producing delicious, planet-friendly food. The report includes the organizations sustainability results from the past Fiscal Year, demonstrating how McCain is responding to the challenges faced by climate change, its priority on enhancing soil health and farming partners’ transition to more regenerative practices.
Scottish Agronomy to host annual Potato Trials and Technology Transfer event
The Potato Trials and Technology Transfer event will take place on Wednesday, 1st February. Host Scottish Agronomy Ltd says this event provides the company with an opportunity to update growers on new developments in potato production. “In-store energy costs, monitoring and actions for efficiency improvements” is one of several topics to be discussed during the meeting.
Global potato statistics: Latest FAO data published
The latest global potato statistics provided by the FAO via its FAOSTAT database were updated in December, 2022. We extracted this 2021 data as it relates to “total production” (in metric tonnes) and present the results for 100 potato producing countries in the table below (ranging from most to least). According to the FAO data, a total of 376 million tonnes of potatoes were produced world wide, with China (94 million tonnes) and India (54 million tonnes) the largest potato producing countries in 2021.
PCN and blackleg main topics at Cambridge potato conference
Potato industry challenges posed by PCN and blackleg were among the topics discussed at the recent Cambridge University Potato Growers’ Association (CUPGRA) annual conference, as Ken Fletcher, editor at The Scottish Farmer reports in this news article. Scotland’s seed potato sector has an increasingly serious problem with the potato cyst nematode (PCN) species, globodera pallida, warned specialist potato agronomist, Eric Anderson, of Scottish Agronomy. Prof Ian Toth, of the James Hutton Institute, eld a workshop to discuss his latest research into Root damage by free living nematodes (FLN) as an important factor in blackleg infestation.
Ontario Potato Conference to focus on key grower issues, including soil health, water management, pest and diseases
The 2023 Ontario Potato Conference will be hosted on Thursday, March 2 by the Ontario Potato Board in the Delta Hotel & Conference Center, Guelph. The wide variety of topics to be addressed by speakers were selected from growers’ requests, according to the principal organizer of the Conference, Dr. Eugenia Banks.
Steps to tackle potato cyst nematodes after granular nematicides
The last remaining granular nematicide for potato cyst nematode (PCN) control, Nemathorin (fosthiazate) faces an uncertain future on UK farms, as Mike Abram reports for Farmers Weekly. At the recent Cambridge University Potato Growers Research Association (Cupgra) conference, Scottish Agronomy’s senior potato agronomist Eric Anderson highlighted four areas where action is needed, or more research required.
How alternative potato desiccation systems performed in Britain in 2022
Two alternative means of desiccating potato crops were trialled during the 2022 season and both machines offer potential, although more work is planned to optimise use in British conditions, as Adam Clarke reports in an extensive article for Farmers Weekly. In his article, Clarke reports in depth on CropZone’s hybrid electric weeder and the Vegniek Discmaster haulm puller.
Univ of Idaho leading USDA-funded project to help potato farmers combat nematodes
A University of Idaho-led research team has received a $6.8 million U.S. Department of Agriculture award to develop new diagnostic tools, management practices and resources for controlling harmful nematodes in potato fields. The four-year project is funded through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative. Louise-Marie Dandurand, with U of I’s Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology, heads the project, titled “PAPAS: Potatoes and Pests, Actionable Science Against Nematodes.”
UMaine researchers testing lobster shells to thwart potato soil pathogens
Scientists at the University of Maine are evaluating if lobster shells can cultivate beneficial microbial communities that ward off soilborne potato pathogens. The novel shell-to-spud combination may connect two cornerstones of Maine’s food system and enhance the state’s circular economy. Katie Ashley, a plant science Ph.D. student in the lab of Associate Professor Jianjun Hao, is assessing how different concentrations of cooked, dried and ground lobster shells may prevent potato disease.
Modern precision ag: How Black Gold Farms implements Agremo’s AI based drone system to make accurate plant stand counts
Black Gold Farms is one of the U.S.’s large geographically diverse potato producers. Three years ago, the company decided to put Agremo’s AI based drone system for determining accurate plant stand counts to the test. Since 2020, the number of fields surveyed by drones and analyzed by Agremo’s image software has rapidly increased to now include 100% of Black Gold’s potato production acres.