Production/Agronomy

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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President and CEO of McCain Foods: ‘To save the world, start with fixing how we grow potatoes’

“It all begins on the farm. That plate of french fries you are about to enjoy began as a potato, grown and harvested from a family farm. Farms have always been at the heart of McCain Foods’ business. The success we have had is only possible because of what happens on the family farms with which we are fortunate to partner. But we need to have a frank discussion about the future of farming.” So says Max Koeune, President and CEO of McCain Foods in this article published by the Toronto Star.

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First AI virtual assistant created for sustainable farming

In the same way virtual assistants help us discover our next favorite song, a new software package has used advanced machine learning to help farmers and agronomists pinpoint what their crops and soils need to boost yield in a sustainable way. The scientific teams of Bayer Crop Science and Biome Makers tested and disclosed the first application of this groundbreaking technology on bioRxiv. The study and resulting scientific paper details the analysis of the soil microbiome to assess effectiveness of Bayer’s biological fungicide Minuet.

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Australian potato farmer’s sustainable farming focus

If you’ve been on the land for four generations already, you want to make sure you keep it going for the next one. In southern Victoria, Blowhard potato farmer Gary Crick is making sure he’s using the most sustainable practices so his farm can stay competitive, and to leave a strong legacy for his son, writes Alex Ford in this article published in The Transcontinental.

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UK: ‘Blight control for today and tomorrow’

Blight is the bane of potato growing and experts warn that, long-term, pressure in the UK is only set to rise. Agronomist and Arable Farmer asked a specialist agronomist, a grower and a crop protection manufacturer about best-practice now and in the future. Together with his business partner at Spud Agronomy, John Sarup, is responsible for over 11,000 acres of potatoes across Northern England up to the Scottish Borders.

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Clubhouse event: ‘French fries – Past, present and future’

French fries are one of the world’s favorite foods, with global consumption in the 10s of billions of pounds annually. Join the team at Farther Farms for a live Clubhouse chat on June 17 with industry experts to learn how the product we love is made, how it makes it to your plate, and areas of opportunity they see for growth in French fries globally.

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Post-diquat: How an easy-to-use app can help with tight potato margins

At the sharp end of the season, potato maincrops might be increasing or decreasing in value by as much as £100/ha/day as yields increase and segment proportions change, writes Mike Abram in this article published by Farmers Weekly in the UK. Harvest too early and yields are unlikely to be maximised; harvest too late and a higher proportion of the crop might be oversized and subject to a lower price.

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Meijer Potato installs Soil Scout sensors

In a first for Soil Scout in the UK, the company reports that Meijer Potato have recently installed Soil Scout sensors in various key locations around the country. This is the first growing season that Meijer will be monitoring underground soil conditions in their fields and Soil Scout is extremely proud that they have chosen the Soil Scout solution to provide this highly beneficial data.

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The ‘touchy-feely’ potato: Researchers developed bio-sensor to detect early signs of plant stress

In an effort to increase agricultural productivity and limit waste, a team of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment developed a method to detect signs of stress before potato plants are damaged. By employing genetic engineering, the team introduced a new gene coded to a fluorescent protein that reports the level of reactive ‘oxygen specieses’ – highly reactive molecules whose accumulation signifies stress responses.

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Syngenta publishes ‘Potato Agronomy Guide 2021’ for British growers

Syngenta in the UK recently published its annual agronomy advice guide with tips and recommendations suited for potato growers in the UK. Some of the topics discussed in the guide include: Soil pest management, nematicide stewardship, seed and soil pathogens, maintaining blight protection, biostimulant benefit from Syngenta science research, and more.

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UK distributor of seaweed-based biostimulant: ‘Farming industry ignores valuable research’

A Lincolnshire farmer believes many in the industry are ignoring valuable research into how best to protect crops from extreme weather conditions and are losing millions of pounds as a result. Marcus Palmer is the sole UK distributor of Algifol, a seaweed-based biostimulant. Marcus says recent unexpected frosts, combined with almost no rainfall in April, will have had a drastic effect on many growers, who rely solely on chemical fertilisers.

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Inca Plus: Optimising calcium mobility in crops for increased yields

Omya UK Ltd has launched InCa Plus, an advanced foliar treatment for brassicas, leafy greens and root vegetables, which delivers higher marketable yield for farmers. It has been proven in multiple independent trials to optimise calcium mobility in crops, including potatoes. In over 200 trials on potatoes globally, Inca Plus delivered an average 1.5 t/ha increase in marketable yields.

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Potatoes exposed to heat stress: Hot spots point to targets for Quantis biostimulant treatment

Rising temperatures resulting from climate change is exposing more potato crops to the damaging extremes of heat stress more frequently. A study of trends has shown it is temperate climates, including the UK, that are bearing the brunt of some of the extremes in weather changes. However, analysing weather data on a more local level can indicate crops that are most at risk of heat stress, and how to adapt agronomy to cope, advocates Syngenta Head of Technical, Dave King.

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End of an era for British agriculture? AHDB winds down horticulture and potatoes operations

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the levy board which represents farmers, growers and others in the supply chain in the UK announced yesterday it is winding down significant activities on behalf of the horticulture and potatoes sectors. AHDB says it wants to reassure levy payers their views have been heard following recent ballots in the two sectors. The board says in a statement it is now stopping programmes of work that could be restarted in the future by grower associations, individual growers or the supply chain.

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The Rhizoctonia threat: British potato growers advised on control measures after cold and dry spring

During April 2021 the UK experienced cold and dry conditions which haven’t been seen in some years. Moving into May, much of the country has received – or is about to receive – some much needed rain, together with an increase in temperatures. Earlier-planted crops may now be ready to crack above the soil surface. Rhizoctonia solani will be a threat to watch out for especially early in the season.

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Report: Insecticide resistance in aphids and virus management in potatoes

A new report indicates the pyrethroid sensitivity of two important aphid virus vectors. Sue Cowgill, AHDB Crop Protection Senior Scientist (Pests) in the UK looks at what the results mean for potato growers. Sue writes that these days, growers have access to fewer modes of action to control insect pests. Concerns that this encourages the emergence of resistance are recognised in the Draft National Action Plan for the sustainable use of pesticides. While this may eventually deliver a comprehensive strategy for insecticide resistance management; in the short term, we have to use the information and insecticides that are available now.

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Canadian potato growers, scouts can now download practical resources for the season

Canadian potato growers and scouts can now find three online scouting resources that will help them know when and what to scout for in potato fields throughout this season. On May 21 and 28, 2020, Potatoes in Canada magazine hosted a webinar series with Dr. Eugenia Banks, potato specialist with the Ontario Potato Board, on how to scout pests, diseases and physiological disorders in potatoes. In addition to the webinar series, Dr. Banks has made her scouting resources available as PDFs for download.

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