‘Worming their way to the top’: Peat-free ‘living’ compost from Wormganix

Wormganix, in partnership with CHAP, is advancing sustainable agriculture with its Innovate UK EDGE funded vermicompost trials, offering a promising alternative to chemical fertilizers. Produced in a peat-free West Yorkshire wormery, their 100% organic fertilizer is rich in microbes and shows potential for enhanced plant growth and soil health. Current trials at CHAP’s facility assess Wormganix’s effectiveness on various crops. The company also seeks to incorporate recycled materials.

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The dawn of nano-agriculture: How nanotechnology is shaping sustainable farming

A study in Agronomy journal details how nanotechnology, dubbed ‘nanofarming’, can transform agriculture, addressing issues like soil degradation and crop protection. The review discusses nanofertilizers, nanopesticides, and nano-enhanced soil, emphasizing the need to balance the benefits with potential risks like nanopollution. It aligns nanofarming with sustainability goals and advocates for further research to optimize its use, highlighting its role in achieving food security amidst environmental challenges.

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The future of farming: Exploring the realities of regenerative agricultural practices

In “Regenerative Agriculture – Hype or Hope?” by Professor Mario Caccamo, the potential of regenerative farming to improve environmental outcomes is highlighted. Despite its increasing popularity, concerns about its economic feasibility and preliminary lower yields challenge its wider adoption. Integrating precision agriculture, NIAB research under Caccamo advocates for evidence-based practices to realize regenerative agriculture’s promise for sustainable food production amid climate change.

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How Canada’s Prince Edward Island potato farmers combat soil erosion and disease threats

In Prince Edward Island, known for some as the “potato capital of the world”, farmers grapple with soil erosion due to harsh climate conditions, risking agricultural productivity. Techniques like minimal tilling and cover cropping are being adopted. Similarly, the EU faces a €1.25 billion productivity loss from erosion, prompting policy for land management to qualify for aid. Globally, sustainable agriculture is key to combatting climate-related degradation for food security.

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Andean farmers use age-old technique amid climate change to protect potato and quinoa crops

In the Andean plateaus of Puno, Peru and Bolivia, ancient Waru Waru agricultural techniques, dating back 2,000 years, are being revived to combat climate change. These rectangular, raised planting beds, surrounded by water to create microclimates, protect crops like potatoes and quinoa from drought and frost. In 2023, during a severe drought, they enabled farmers to sustain food production and maintain their rural livelihoods.

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EU faces dire potato seed supply challenges for 2024 growing season, prices soar

The EU faces a challenging 2024 for potato cultivation with a seed shortage due to a 10,000-hectare decrease in seed-producing areas. reports average yields and larger seeds with fewer tubers, compounded by viral issues and poor harvests due to rains. Seed prices are rising sharply, affecting all potato sectors. Producers may need to look for seeds outside traditional channels, while industry-wide efforts are needed to stabilize seed cultivation for sustainability.

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Guelph to host exciting 2024 Ontario Potato Conference: A must-attend event for industry professionals

The 2024 Ontario Potato Conference, organized by Dr. Eugenia Banks and hosted by the Ontario Potato Board, is scheduled for February 29 in Guelph. Garnering significant interest with a sold-out Trade Show and additional exhibitors, the event features expert speakers addressing tailored topics crucial to the industry. The agenda includes sessions on late blight management, soil health, technology advancements, sustainable practices and more, offering insights and networking opportunities. Registration is open online.

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Challenging times for European potato growers: NEPG reports significant losses and uncertain future

The North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) reports substantial losses for potato growers in 2023 due to poor weather and high costs, with 11,000 hectares and 650,000 tonnes affected. Despite this, global harvest rose by 5.1%, with varying regional impacts. Growers struggle with production costs, risks, and certified seed shortages, while processing demand remains high. This leaves the sector under stress, seeking a balance between supply and challenging conditions.

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The impact of glyphosate herbicide on potato crops: Insights from potato expert Andy Robinson

Prof Andy Robinson’s bulletin titled “Glyphosate on Potatoes” highlights the risks of glyphosate herbicide on potatoes, a crop particularly vulnerable to it. Low-level exposure can cause decreased yield and quality, with symptoms such as yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and tuber defects. Contamination may arise from drift, tank residues, or misapplication. Robinson underscores the need for proper application techniques and mitigation to prevent glyphosate damage, and suggests testing for residues in suspected cases.

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The evolving landscape of the global potato industry: Trends, challenges and innovations in 2023

The potato industry in 2023 has been a landscape of innovation and adaptation as stakeholders across the globe respond to a wide array of trends and pressures. From the encroaching effects of climate change to technological advancements sweeping through the fields and supply chains, the industry has been shaped by the interplay of environmental, technological, and market dynamics. Potato News Today explores some of these factors in a comprehensive article based on news reports published in 2023.

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Resilience in the fields: Dutch farmers struggle through extreme weather challenges

Dutch farmers struggle with climate-change-induced extreme weather, leading to crop losses, especially potatoes, carrots, and sugar beets. Wageningen University research focuses on mitigating the effects of severe weather on soil and crop health. Strategies under exploration include utilizing lighter farming machinery and breeding resilient crop varieties. Challenges extend to spring-flowering bulbs, with efforts underway to manage water levels effectively. The university emphasizes the urgency of developing adaptive agricultural practices and crop varieties resistant to extreme conditions.

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Diverse cover crops a key strategy in British grower’s regenerative approach

In a recent discussion at Groundswell, agronomist Ed Brown, head of agroecology at Hutchinson’s in the UK, and East Shropshire grower John Bubb showcased the potential of growing potatoes regeneratively, focusing on good soil analysis and careful management. On Bubb’s 2,000-acre farm, they integrate soil health with crop diversity to maintain yields and cut inputs. Techniques include diverse cover crops, reduced tillage, with pest control also a focus.

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UK’s Health and Safety Executive proposes withdrawal of mancozeb approval, impacting agricultural practices

The Health and Safety Executive of Great Britain has proposed the withdrawal of the widely used pesticide mancozeb. This decision, expected to impact agricultural practices, may lead to changes in mancozeb’s use. Despite the proposed withdrawal, efforts are underway to explore options for maintaining its availability in the UK market. The approval is set to expire on 31st January 2024, with a possible interim extension.

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Global Potato Production: Insights from the FAO’s latest data

The FAO’s FAOSTAT database, updated in late December 2023, reveals that global potato production in 2022 neared 375 million tonnes, with China and India as leading producers. The total harvested area was about 17.8 million hectares globally. It’s essential to note that FAOSTAT data, while comprehensive, may not align precisely with official figures from certain countries’ sources, but generally provides a reliable overview.

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How zero tillage potato cultivation is empowering women and transforming lives in Bangladesh

The International Potato Center has introduced a groundbreaking method for potato cultivation in coastal Bangladesh: zero tillage using rice straw mulch. This innovative technique addresses environmental challenges, promotes economic growth, women’s empowerment, and improved rural livelihoods. By recycling straw as mulch and not disturbing soil structure, the method enhances soil fertility, reduces carbon emissions, and allows for saline-tolerant potato cultivation, leading to increased agricultural productivity in challenging environments.

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Canada’s Alberta province triumphs in potato production amidst drought challenges

Alberta’s potato farmers have remarkably outperformed Prince Edward Island, traditionally Canada’s potato hub, by producing 32,063,000 CWT of potatoes in 2023, despite enduring drought conditions. This success, a second this century, is attributed to increased acreage and effective irrigation strategies. The industry, contributing over $2 billion annually to Alberta’s economy, is poised for further growth, evidenced by significant investments like McCain Foods’ $600 million expansion in Coaldale.

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GreenLight Biosciences unveils ‘Calantha’: A revolutionary new bioinsecticide for Colorado potato beetle control

GreenLight Biosciences’ Calantha, a groundbreaking RNA-based bioinsecticide, has received EPA and state registration for controlling the destructive Colorado potato beetle. This marks a significant advancement in agricultural pest management, offering a sustainable, effective alternative to traditional chemical pesticides. Calantha degrades quickly without leaving harmful residues.

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HarvestEye unveils enhanced crop insight tool at Potato Expo 2024

HarvestEye is set to unveil its advanced HarvestEye 2.0 system at Potato Expo 2024. This upgraded tool offers real-time crop insights, fitting onto existing harvesting equipment. It provides detailed data on crop size, shape, and distribution, enhancing decision-making for growers. The system, improved through feedback from regional trials, operates effectively even in challenging conditions, marking a significant step towards efficient, sustainable farming.

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The soil-plant connection: A comprehensive guide to soil health and plant vitality

Joel Williams, a plant and soil health educator in the UK, presented “Soils and Nutrition” delving into the complex relationship between soil health and plant nutrition. He emphasized the critical role of soil in supporting healthy plants, discussed global soil degradation, and advocated for a holistic approach to soil management. Williams explained the role of plants in soil health and outlined practical strategies for improvement.

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The future of farming: Insights from the World Potato Congress webinar on combatting food loss

In a recent webinar hosted by the World Potato Congress, Luciana Delgado analyzed losses in the potato value chain, emphasizing their impact on food security, economic growth, and environmental sustainability. Delgado presented the “Food Losses App,” a tool to assess and address food losses for farmers, aligning with Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. She emphasized the unequal impacts of food loss, the need for precise measurement, targeted interventions, and creating a business case for reducing losses at the producer level.

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A new era in precision agriculture: How the Picketa LENS tool is changing the game for crop nutrient management

In 2023, Picketa Systems introduced the Leaf-Evaluated-Nutrient-System (LENS) to offer real-time plant nutrient analysis, enabling adaptive input management. The LENS, an alternative to time-consuming lab protocols, provides accurate nutrient uptake data, helping manage fertilizer costs and adapting to fluctuating crop conditions. Used by agronomists and growers for instant agronomic feedback, it has aided in operational cost savings, improved decision-making, and enhanced crop quality. Plans to expand LENS to support additional crops like corn are underway.

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Sustainable spuds: Making regenerative ag work in potato production

Brendon Rockey, a Colorado potato farmer, is implementing regenerative agriculture to address soil degradation and water scarcity. His farm uses diverse crop rotations, cover crops, and integrates livestock grazing, enhancing soil health and reducing water usage. This approach also involves novel pest management strategies. Manitoba potato farmers are exploring similar paths, The shift towards sustainable practices is influenced by industry demands, with companies like McCain Foods and PepsiCo mandating regenerative methods from their suppliers by 2030.

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Innovative farming breakthrough: Canadian potato farmers achieve remarkable yields in no-fertilizer experiment

Researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada conducted the #AAFCPlowdownChallenge to examine how well potatoes would grow using only nitrogen leftover from previous crops and cover crops, without fertilizers. “This yield result is very good, in our opinion. It shows the ability of the soil to provide nutrients from a previous crop, like red clover, to help grow potatoes,” says Scott Anderson, AAFC science coordinator. They believe the experiment demonstrates the value of efficient fertilizer use and the benefits of considering leftover soil nutrients for sustainable farming.

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‘Water wisdom’: How Agrico irrigation systems transform potato farming in South Africa’s Western Cape

The article “Rooted in success: Agrico offers potato irrigation solutions,” spotlights a collaboration between South African potato farm Stephan & Seun and Agrico, an irrigation solutions provider. The partnership, which began in the 1970s, uses Agrico’s advanced technology for efficient water management in potato farming, leading to cost savings and power efficiency. The system’s adaptivity to varying pressure requirements ensures optimal operation even with a change in topography.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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