Research

Novel research by Australian farmers to turn waste into biohydrogen fuel and fertiliser

Trials to turn waste from potato farms into fertiliser and energy are underway in regional Victoria in a bid to be environmentally friendly and lower the costs for farmers. Jane McNaughton and Steve Martin of ABC Ballarat reports on this research and development project based in Mollongghip, between Ballarat and Daylesford, that aims to convert agricultural waste, known as biomass, into hydrogen.

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The future of crop protection? GM plant grows insect sex pheromones as alternative to crop pesticides

Scientists have discovered how to genetically modify the camelina plant to produce pheromone precursors that can control agricultural insect pests without the use of pesticides. Revolutionary research is being done by ISCA, Inc., a “green” agricultural technology company based in Riverside, Calif., in collaboration with Lund University in Sweden. ISCA says pheromone controls are the future of crop protection.

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Potato early dying disease in the spotlight at Canadian Potato Summit

Potato early dying disease, also known as Verticillium wilt, results in early potato maturity and can limit yield by as much as 50 per cent. What can Canadian growers do to protect their spuds? Mario Tenuta and Dmytro Yevtushenko of the Canadian Potato Early Dying Network (CanPEDNet) will share research updates on this disease during the upcoming Canadian Potato Summit on February 3.

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Climate-smart varieties: Genetic marker for late blight expedites breeding from 10 to 5 years

As the global population approaches 10 billion by 2050, agricultural production will need to increase by 60%. Yet with every 1°C of warming, agricultural productivity is projected to fall by 5%. One model predicts that potato yields could decrease by as much as 32% by 2060, but the development and distribution of climate-smart varieties can ensure that this nutritious and fast-maturing crop continues to play a vital role in food systems in economies worldwide. To accelerate the development of those varieties, scientists have taken advantage of advances in genetic sequencing,

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The puzzle of non-host resistance: Why do pathogens harm some plants but not others?

People have puzzled for years why pathogen Phytophthora infestans causes the devastating late blight disease on potatoes, but has no effect at all on plants like apple or cucumber. How are apple trees and cucumber plants able to completely shake off this devastating pathogen? Agricultural scientists have wondered for years: if this resistance is so complete and persists over so many generations, is there some way we could transfer it to susceptible plants and thereby stop the disease?

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UK: Strategic Potato (SPot) Farms Results Week – Harvest 2020

AHDB Potatoes in the UK invites everyone for a week of online events exploring the work from its Strategic Potato (SPot) Farms from January 19 – 21. Online sessions hosted by AHDB will bring the growers, agronomists and researchers who have delivered field trials in 2020 together to discuss the work, deliver results and talk about what they learned. AHDB’s SPot Farms this year grew everything from certified seed, through salads to maincrop for the fresh and processing markets. With a range of geographical locations, soil types and challenges – there is something to learn for all growers.

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CIP Deputy Director warns of the dire consequences of a ‘crop pandemic’, biodiversity loss

As the impacts of climate change intensify — from water scarcity to raging fires and disease outbreaks — the ability to keep pace with demand for food will increasingly rely on crops adapted to new conditions. To achieve this crop breeders will need the full range of tools at their disposal. So says Oscar Ortiz, Deputy Director General for Research and Development at the International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima, Peru. Ortiz warns that biodiversity loss threatens national security.

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Food technology expert: New Maine potato varieties ‘have much lower levels of acrylamide than Russet Burbank’

Food technology and human nutrition specialist at the University of Maine, Professor Mary Ellen Camire, has some good news about french fries. Those made with the new potato varieties AF4296-3 and Easton have much lower levels of the probable carcinogen acrylamide than those made with the popular Russet Burbank variety. Camire, conducted a pilot study in this regard with colleagues, including Gregory Porter, who heads the UMaine potato breeding and variety development program.

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‘Battle cry of the potato’ – How a potato wild relative fights off blackleg and soft rot pathogen

Potato production is severely affected by high susceptibility to a wide range of microbial pathogens, such as bacteria from the genus Pectobacterium, which cause various devastating diseases in potato and produce important economic losses. In a recent study, scientists from Colorado State University (CSU) revealed that metabolites from a potato wild relative (S. chacoense) contribute to disease resistance by altering the pathogenic behavior of Pectobacterium brasiliense, rather than inhibiting its growth or killing it.

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Australia: Specialists explore effect of sanitisers and drying on post-harvest bacterial soft rot in potatoes

Management of rots, both in the field and post-harvest, is an ongoing challenge for potato producers around the world, also in Australia. The Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection (ICP) Partnership Network recently hosted a podcast during which two specialists from the US and Belgium discussed a trial that was set up in Australia to explore the effect of sanitisers and/or drying on the development of post-harvest bacterial soft rot in potatoes.

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Survey: ‘Developing multiple-stress tolerant potatoes for the European industry’

This research is part of the ADAPT (“Accelerated Development of multiple-stress tolerant potato”) project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. It is a joint effort involving public and industrial partners from the European potato sector, and its mission is to develop new strategies to make potatoes fit for the challenging growth conditions of the future. European potato growers are cordially invited to complete an online survey.

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Scientists document the evolutionary change in P. infestans populations in potato crops in Indonesia

A new study identifies for the first time the genotypes, or strains of P. infestans, causing late blight in the main potato-growing regions on the island of Java in Indonesia and further examines the diversity in the genetic makeup in the P. infestans populations in those regions. Results suggest that the original genotype introduced into Indonesia was probably EU_2_A1 and that there is ongoing evolution in these populations due to a high mutation rate and no selection pressure from the susceptible potato hosts that are currently being grown in Indonesia.

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Breakthrough discovery: How Colorado potato beetles beat pesticides

In a first-of-its-kind study, led by Prof. Yolanda Chen at the University of Vermont (UVM), the research team shows that epigenetic changes, passed to new generations, may solve the paradox of rapid pesticide resistance by the infamous Colorado potato beetle. For more than a 150 years the Colorado potato beetle eventually managed to overcome most every pesticide thrown its way. The UVM study moves dramatically closer to an explanation.

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INIA and Rustikas to cooperate on the development of new Uruguayan potato varieties

The National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIA) in Uruguay recently signed an agreement with the local agrobiotechnology company Rustikas to work together on the selection, evaluation, validation and production of seeds of new potato varieties of Uruguayan origin. The alliance will work towards a continued genetic improvement of new potato varieties. The partners will also strive to bring about an efficient Uruguayan based seed production system and supply a national multiplication network. It will be the first time that a company in Uruguay uses aeroponic technology to offer minitubers to farmers and seed growers.

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Disease-suppressive crops at work: The prevention and management of soilborne potato diseases

Disease-suppressive crops work in multiple ways: by not being a crop host to the disease, by actively lowering pathogen levels, and by boosting soil health so the overall growing environment is more resilient to disease. In a recent episode of Potatoes in Canada’s Tuber Talk podcast series, Robert Larkin, a USDA-ARS research plant pathologist based in Maine, discussed the different ways crops can lower disease pressure and all about soil health more broadly.

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World Potato Congress webinar with James Hutton Institute potato specialist

The World Potato Congress (WPC) is pleased to present its next webinar on December 15, 2020 with Dr Mark Taylor, Co-leader of Potato Genetics and Molecular Physiology, at The James Hutton Institute in the UK. Dr Taylor’s presentation will highlight some of the key challenges in developing new potato varieties that could deliver the full potential of the crop. Recent achievements in overcoming some the obstacles to improving varieties will be reviewed briefly and important traits for the future considered.

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What are the best practices for modern breeding?

Through “sharing excellence” across programs and geographies, crop breeders are ready to deliver higher rates of genetic gain and varietal turnover. This was the theme of November 10-12’s Excellence in Breeding (EiB) Virtual Meeting 2020, where nearly 250 breeders and leaders came together to share principles, successes and opportunities.

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Fight the blight: Why a new potato variety could be a game-changer for farmers in East Africa

Researchers from the National Agricultural Research Organisation Uganda and the International Potato Center, have developed a new variety of potato which is resistant to late blight. Using new molecular techniques, they transferred late-blight resistance genes into the popular East African potato variety Victoria. The new variety, known as 3R Victoria, is almost identical to the variety farmers now plant in Uganda, with one crucial difference. It contains three genes from a potato relative that provide it with complete resistance to the late blight pathogen.

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Sustainable cultivation: Research confirms soil benefits of cover crops in potato crop rotations

Canadian scientist, Dr. Judith Nyiraneza, working with a Prince Edward Island potato producer recently completed a two-year study that tested the performance of winter rye, winter wheat and spring barley as winter cover crops planted following the harvest of potatoes. She concluded each cover crop improved soil health and combat erosion, protecting potato fields in winter.

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Investing in the future of potato breeding: UMaine researchers working to develop genomic tools for potato breeders

Two University of Maine researchers are part of a team of plant geneticists and breeders working to develop tools that will help Maine scientists and farmers become more efficient in breeding new cultivars and bringing novel, improved potato varieties to market. Greg Porter and E. Han Tan have partnered with a team of national and international researchers to develop and test genomics-assisted tools intended to advance the breeding of economically important polyploid food crops such as potatoes.

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SCRI Potato Soil Health Project is hiring

The overall objectives of the Potato Soil Health Project at the University of Minnesota are to determine how best to measure soil health in potato cropping systems, identify the tools (cover crops, soil amendments, rotation schemes) that best enhance both soil health and tuber production, and communicate our findings to potato growers. The SCRI Potato Soil Health Project is now hiring. They have an opening for a two-year Post-Doctoral Associate.

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Research job opening: ‘Getting to the roots of stress resilience of potato plants’

Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands is advertising a challenging position for 1,5 years for a candidate with a PhD in Plant Sciences or Molecular Biology, with preference for candidates with good background in stress physiology. In this project the function of several candidate genes involved in potato root architecture will be investigated, by qPCR, CRISPR-CAS9 genome editing and overexpression approaches.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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