Production/Agronomy

South Korean company EGG Microtubers received PotatoEurope’s Golden Innovation Award

During a special award ceremony on Wednesday September 1st, a professional jury awarded the PotatoEurope Gold Innovation Award to the Microtubers of E Green Global (EGG). Based on three criteria, namely innovativeness, potential impact in the potato market and applicability in the potato sector, the jury came to the decision to declare EGG Microtubers as the winner of the Golden Innovation Award.

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UK importer of seaweed-based biostimulant wants to establish network of regional agronomists

Agronomists interested in finding out more about biostimulants and the effect they can have on UK crops are being encouraged to contact one of Europe’s leading brands of natural fertilisers. The UK importer of seaweed-based biostimulant, Algifol, wants to establish a network of regional agronomists to receive insights and feedback from them and their clients. The company is offering free product to those that get involved.

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Alternative potato crop desiccation technology awarded

crop.zone, the new hybrid electric solution for alternative crop desiccation and weed management, has been voted the most innovative new technology in potato production by potato professionals worldwide. In addition to the Audience Award, NUCROP won the silver medal at the Potato Europe Innovation Awards out of 30 entries. Both prizes were presented on 1 September 2021 in Lelystad, the Netherlands.

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CropX and PepsiCo México to help Latin American potato farmers to improve farm management practices

AgAnalytics company CropX and PepsiCo México expand their collaboration to help PepsiCo’s Mexican potato farmers reduce water and fertilizer consumption, improve soil health, lower greenhouse emissions and improve crop yields. By collaborating with CropX, PepsiCo can now help growers in Latin America improve farm input application efficiency and become environmentally sustainable.

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Idaho potato growers brace for ‘inferior crop’

Randy Hardy, of Oakley, is not alone among Idaho farmers in his assessment that the potato crop he’ll soon harvest will be the worst of his career. Spud farmers conducting test digs or early harvest are uprooting plants supporting no tubers. Where there are spuds, there are fewer than normal, and most of the tubers are undersized and misshapen.

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New weapons for tracking late blight

A North Carolina State University team has developed quick diagnostic tests to detect plant diseases before they show symptoms in the field. In particular, they have worked on technology for identifying Phytophthora infestans, which causes late blight in tomatoes and potatoes. This article highlights how that technology works and describes the benefits for producers.

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Spud advice: Managing nutrition during tuber bulking crucial

With tuber bulking being such a critical, yet energy sapping period in potato crop development, now is the time to consider nutrition applications to support crop health and maintain tuber growth. If crops are lacking potassium and sulphur at cell expansion during tuber bulking this can lead to various issues, pointed out FMC crop nutrition technical manager, Chris Bond.

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‘Potatoes in Practice 2021’ to focus on new varieties, IPM and trade challenges

‘Potatoes in Practice’, the UK’s largest field event for potatoes, is set to return on 12 August 2021 to Balruddery Farm (Angus, Dundee). It will be hosted this year with a slightly different format to allow for social distancing. There will be no seminars this year: it’ll be all about the plots, and field exhibits where the trade can interact and re-connect to discuss new varieties, IPM and the challenges of the trading environment in a COVID safe environment.

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McCain’s Farms of the Future: ‘Mapping out a greener future’

McCain Foods’ Farm of the Future in the Canadian province of New Brunswick seeks to sustain potato production and battle climate change in the years and decades ahead. During its first year, McCain’s Canadian Farm of the Future will seek to incorporate precision agriculture technologies like remote sensing, experimenting with seeding practices and implementing controlled traffic on a field.

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Cover crops: Measuring nitrogen in green manures

Both chemical fertilizers and cover crops can help build the nitrogen content in soil. But cover crops come with many other benefits, like improving soil structure and boosting beneficial microbes. Katherine Muller and her team are working on strategies to measure nitrogen fixation in breeding programs for two common cover crops: crimson clover and hairy vetch.

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Latest global potato statistics now updated

Dear Readers, I have updated the latest available FAOSTAT global data for potatoes – related to “production” and “area harvested”, and present the results in this news post. It now includes statistics for 2019. Total world production totalled 370,436,581 metric tonnes, produced on 17,340,986 hectares.

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Desiccating potato crops: What are the options in 2021?

With diquat no longer available (Northern Ireland or Republic of Ireland), Irish potato growers will have no option but to look at other crop desiccation options over the coming weeks. This issue was the focus of a farm demonstration, hosted by the College of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) at its Greenmount farm in Co. Antrim this week, which Agriland’s Richard Halleron went along to.

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Research breakthrough creates crops that can grow 50% more potatoes, rice

Manipulating RNA can allow plants to yield dramatically more crops, as well as increasing drought tolerance, announced a group of scientists from the University of Chicago, Peking University and Guizhou University. In initial tests, adding a gene encoding for a protein called FTO to both potato and rice plants increased their yield by 50% in field tests. The plants grew significantly larger, produced longer root systems and were better able to tolerate drought stress.

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Expert: ‘Will potato late blight ever go away?’

Andrivon Didier, Research Director at INRAE, France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment, discusses the existential threat of potato late blight in a recently published ebook article. What can be done to stop it though? According to Didier, the answer to controlling blights is Integrated Pest Management (IPM). He further explains: “A more complex strategy relying on a combination of control methods, such as prophylaxis (sanitation), resistant cultivars, biocontrol, decision support systems and precision agriculture.”

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Canadian potato growers hope mustard and arugula combo will prevent pests, make soil healthier

New research on Canada’s Prince Edward Island is using mustard and arugula to tackle pest problems in potato fields with a side benefit, farmers hope, of making the soil healthier at the same time. As the CBC’s Nancy Russell reports in this news story, the mustard in the field is called caliente rojo, and is specially bred to have high levels of glucosinolates, a natural component in many pungent plants including mustard, cabbage, and horseradish.

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Saving our soil: New microbial technologies that keep soil healthy and us fed

Soil microbes are hard to see and understand, yet we know that they have a significant impact on plant health, your health, and the Earth’s health. New microbial research and technologies are beginning to change how we understand and direct the soil microbiome to increase soil fertility and plant health, which then help our understanding of your microbiome. In an article published by Genetic Literacy Project, Lucy Stitzer discusses four examples of new technologies from specialist companies that make our soil healthier.

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Indian scientists developed smartphone app to help potato farmers detect late blight disease

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) have developed a smartphone app for automated disease detection in potato crops using photographs of its leaves. “Automated disease detection can help in this regard and given the extensive proliferation of the mobile phones across the country, the smartphone could be a useful tool for potato farmers in this regard,” said Mr. Joe Johnson, Research Scholar, IIT Mandi.

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How to fertilise a potato crop: An African experience

Potato yields are highly-dependent on fertilizer use, but pinpointing the amount of fertilizer to be used can be a challenge, especially for smallholder farmers in Africa. This challenge is important in Rwanda where average potato yields are currently 8-10 tonnes per hectare (t/ha), compared to the 25-35 t/ha they might expect with improved potato varieties, better pest and disease management, and enhanced extension services and fertilizer use. 

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The future is here: Drones to help with potato farming in Latvia

Unmanned aircraft, or drones, are already used in many areas, but it appears that they may also be assistants in potato cultivation, as researchers from Vidzeme university claim. Initial studies are being carried out, Latvian Radio reports. Vidzeme High School’s scientific assistant, Andis Lapāns, has launched an unmanned aircraft over the potato field of the Priekuļi Research Centre, which will provide detailed information about the crop in the field.

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‘New plants for carbon farming’: Can breeders actually do it?

As agriculture looks to better farming practices to sequester more carbon, breeders look to make new crops to help, writes SeedWorld’s Joe Funk in this article. “Carbon sequestration”, he says, “it’s a buzzword that’s slowly trickling down into agriculture practices. But how could breeding for carbon farming actually help the industry?”

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Old foe, new information: Alternaria monitoring indicates application timing

Results of last season’s Syngenta alternaria monitoring in British potato crops has further reinforced the pattern of earliest infection from A. alternata, with A. solani typically coming into crops later in the season. The monitoring is undertaken by independent and industry potato agronomists sampling suspected cases throughout the season, with laboratory analysis by NIAB specialists to determine the species of alternaria (early blight) present.

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Canadian potato growers optimistic about regenerative ag goal

A McCain Foods pledge to by 2030 use only potatoes from farms that practise regenerative agriculture is an important step, but consumers need to keep asking questions and hold such companies accountable, an expert told Doug Ferguson of Western Producer. McCain Foods plans to implement three Farms of the Future around the world by 2025, including one in New Brunswick that is already operational, to test regenerative agriculture practices. The company’s focus on the future isn’t new for members of the Potato Growers of Alberta, said executive director Terence Hochstein.

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‘Time to rethink virus control in seed crops’

Trials are underway in Aberdeenshire aimed at rethinking the approaches growers take to controlling virus in seed potato crops, writes Dr Philip Burgess in this article published by The Scottish Farmer. He writes that the seed potato sector in Scotland underpins the whole of the GB potato industry, as well as exporting high-quality seed around the world. The natural advantages of the climate, which reduce the numbers of aphids which can carry virus, are well known.

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British potato growers advised on bridging the troubled waters of heat stress during summer

As the mercury rises across Britain, potato growers are urged to take particular note of the impact of temperature stress on their crops and it’s potential to influence performance and eventually the total potential yield. “However, the cold spring and wet soil conditions slowed growth and some crops have just sat there under stress. We are now at the cusp of whether crops produce above average tuber numbers. With warmer temperatures on the cards there is potential for this which may mean some crops cannot bulk properly,” says Stuart Sutherland, technical manager at Interagro.

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