‘Milky tuber tale’: Molecular farming startup to produce dairy proteins in potatoes

Finally Foods, an Israeli startup, has debuted with pre-seed funding, producing dairy proteins in potatoes through molecular farming. The founders, former Evogene VP Basia J. Vinocur and Dafna Gabbay, are building a B2B ingredient company, not a consumer brand. With funding from The Kitchen FoodTech Hub, the focus is on protein systems and partnerships for initial scaling in Israel, aiming for future US regulatory approval.

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Potato farming under the microscope: The latest in disease detection technologies

Potato farming is integral to global agriculture, ranking fourth in food crops. It faces challenges, notably diseases caused by pathogens like fungi and viruses, leading to economic and food security issues. Innovation in disease detection through AI and deep learning, such as Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs), is revolutionizing crop management by enabling early, accurate diagnosis and targeted treatments. Advances in drone and smartphone technology further aid in comprehensive, real-time monitoring, ushering in precision agriculture and sustainability.

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PoLoPo unveils SuperAA platform: A protein biofactory in a potato

PoLoPo introduced the SuperAA platform, turning potatoes into micro-biofactories for protein production—patatin and egg protein ovalbumin. Utilizing potatoes’ growth advantages, the platform promises economical and sustainable solutions for the food system, offering ingredients for a range of food products. With significant market potential, PoLoPo has already garnered awards and seed funding, signaling upcoming industry tests for their innovative proteins.

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Unlocking the future of agriculture: Researchers describe breakthrough techniques in cryopreservation in new e-book

Dr. Gayle Volk of the USDA-ARS and colleagues have published an e-book offering comprehensive guidance on the cryopreservation of clonally propagated plants, a key for food security. With detailed public content, including protocols and videos, it introduces methods like shoot tip cryotherapy for pathogen eradication in crops. This work holds promise for sustainable and disease-free agriculture, particularly in staple crops like potatoes.

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Smart phosphorus use could boost food production and protect vital reserves, study finds

Scientists from New Zealand and the UK assert that more effective use of phosphorus, a key plant growth nutrient, could extend its global reserve lifespan to 531 years. This finding from the Lincoln Science Centre and Lancaster University study, published in Nature Food, emphasizes the need for improved phosphorus management in agriculture and recommends more targeted fertilizer application, efficient formulations, and enhanced recycling from wastewater.

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Rethinking soil fumigation: A new study explores its impact on agricultural sustainability

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied the effects of soil fumigation on agricultural sustainability, focusing on potato fields in Wisconsin. The study, which analyzed various indicators of soil health, found that fumigation’s impact varies significantly by soil type, enhancing outcomes in sandy soils but not in loamy soils. The research, published in Field Crops Research, emphasizes the role of soil microbial diversity in agricultural productivity and calls for tailored soil management practices to support sustainable agriculture.

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Breeding the super spud: How scientists are striving to create climate-resilient potatoes

The ADAPT project explores breeding resilient potatoes through genetics. Researchers have discovered how the SP6A protein triggers potato formation and how high temperatures disrupt this process. By manipulating genes related to SP6A, they’ve produced potatoes that grow earlier and in greater numbers, even in adverse conditions. Findings on the GERMIN3 gene also contribute to improved potato yield by managing sugar supply during growth. Such advances aim at securing food production despite climate challenges.

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A united front against malnutrition: WFP and CIP renew partnership for nutritional innovation

The World Food Programme and the International Potato Center have renewed their collaboration with a four-year MOU to fight hunger by focusing on research and innovation in nutritious crops. This includes expanding school meals in Kenya to 10 million children and utilizing biofortified foods like Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato. The partnership also emphasizes preventive nutrition and sustainable solutions through strategic alliances and rigorous research.

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MSU’s pioneering diploid potato project backs research into new way of breeding potatoes

About a decade ago, Michigan State University’s professor Dave Douches, launched the SolCAP initiative, funded by the USDA NIFA, focusing on potato and tomato crop improvements. He spearheaded a shift towards breeding diploid potatoes, which have two sets of chromosomes, enabling easier gene editing and rapid genetic progress. With Project GREEEN’s support, his efforts include developing self-compatible diploid potatoes and enhancing pest resistance, such as against the Colorado potato beetle.

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The TRUTH project: Transforming the future of Britain’s soil health analysis with a farmer-led platform

The TRUTH project, backed by a £1M Defra grant and implemented by BOFIN and others, aims to revolutionize soil and root health understanding through advanced research and sensor technology in the UK. It introduces novel microbial sensing and soil testing tools, establishing a farmer network, the Soil Circle, for knowledge sharing, and equipping ‘Root Rangers’ to enhance sustainable soil management practices.

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‘TuberGene’: Innovative new precision breeding project in the UK promises radical solutions

B-hive Innovations leads ‘TuberGene’, a UKRI-funded research to revolutionize the UK’s potato industry through precision breeding and gene editing. The project focuses on reducing food waste by curbing bruising and accelerating cooking times. The initiative reflects responses to consumer demand shifts and strives for sustainable agriculture, with advancements like the “Super Spud” and wider applications in fresh produce farming.

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The digital eye in potato breeding: How machine vision is shaping the future of spuds

A team of U.S. scientists published an innovative cost-effective phenotyping strategy to improve potato breeding in the Plant Phenome Journal. This scalable, machine vision technology assesses size, shape, and color of potatoes with high precision, streamlining the breeding process. This AI-driven method, also capable of detecting defects and inferring weight, offers a new approach to selecting and cultivating superior potato varieties, significantly advancing the field.

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Lightning-based fertiliser technology could support farmers, climate and soil health

UK Agri-Tech Centres partner with Debye Ltd. to trial a system that mimics lightning for on-site nitrate fertilizer production, reducing carbon emissions and improving soil health. The technology, created by a former space engineer, uses only air, water, and electricity, aiming to lessen the environmental impact of traditional fertilizers and enhance food security.

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European researchers unite to combat potato pest threat at inaugural wireworm workshop

To tackle the growing wireworm threat to potatoes, scientists will convene in Oslo during the 22nd Triennial Conference of the European Association for Potato Research for the European Wireworm Research Network’s inaugural workshop. They aim to develop collaborative strategies for pest management, with a focus on new research, monitoring methods, and sustainable practices to protect potato crops, enhancing food security in Europe and globally.

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Michigan State University scientists cracking the code to a healthier potato chip

Michigan State University scientists made a discovery revealing the genetics behind cold-stored potatoes darkening and health risks. Published in The Plant Cell, the research could lead to new potato varieties resistant to cold-induced sweetening (CIS), reducing harmful acrylamide production during processing. This advancement is crucial for the U.S. snack industry, including Michigan’s $240 million potato market, as it could ensure a consistent supply of fresh potatoes year-round while enhancing chips and fries quality.

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James Hutton Institute spearheads global food security with new National Potato Innovation Centre

The James Hutton Institute plans to establish the National Potato Innovation Centre to bolster food security, focusing on potatoes’ role in global strategies. The NPIC will utilize a new glasshouse complex to breed potato varieties suited to warmer, sustainable environments. With a reputation in potato science and a history of R&D success, the institute’s facility, housing the Commonwealth Potato Collection, aims to promote drought tolerance and disease resistance in potatoes, thereby future-proofing the UK industry.

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‘Preventing the next plant plague’: Jean Ristaino’s groundbreaking research in the fight against potato blight

Plant pathologist Jean Ristaino from NC State University is spearheading research to combat plant diseases such as late blight in potatoes and tomatoes. She is developing a rapid detection system to manage plant diseases efficiently and mapping the Phytophthora ‘tree of life’ to understand disease evolution. Her international collaboration and upcoming book “The Potato Plague” emphasize the global effort needed to secure food supplies amid climate change and population growth.

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‘Tiny titans of the farm’: Nanotechnology poised to revolutionize agriculture, but cautious steps needed

Scientists from the School of Biological Sciences, Central University of Kerala anticipate nanotechnology will significantly advance agriculture, as detailed in their review published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Research. Nanotech approaches, like nano-fertilizers, biosensors, and enhanced seeds, aim to improve yields, reduce environmental impact, and combat food insecurity due to climate change and population growth. However, challenges such as potential nanoparticle toxicity, ethical issues related to accessibility, and ecological effects must be addressed responsibly.

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2024 strategies in potato disease and pest control: Miller Research to hold annual Potato Pest Management Meeting

On February 21, 2024, Miller Research will host its Potato Pest Management Meeting at Rupert’s Wilson Theater, with a virtual attendance option. The event, from 9 AM to 12:30 PM, includes expert talks on bacterial diseases, fungicides, and chemigation, with continuous education credits available for various states. Registration is $20, benefiting the local 4-H after expenses.

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‘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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Tracing potato blight’s origins: A text analytics journey from America to Ireland

Researchers at North Carolina State University analyzed historical and modern writings to understand the spread and impact of Phytophthora infestans, the pathogen behind the Irish potato famine and current issues in potatoes and tomatoes. By digitizing documents from 1843 to 1845, they traced the pathogen’s travel in the U.S. before hitting Ireland.

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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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Zebra chip disease watch: Univ of Idaho reports more disease bacteria in psyllids despite low pest count

In 2023, the University of Idaho’s pest monitoring program noted a slight increase in potato psyllids carrying the bacterium causing zebra chip disease in Idaho potatoes compared with normal years, though there were fewer psyllids overall. The highest concentration was in the Treasure Valley region. A centralized website,, now provides regional pest data.

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The hidden factor in potato freshness: Magnesium’s key role in reducing storage loss

A study by researchers from Stellenbosch University, financed by Potatoes South Africa, and published in the South African magazine CHIPS, finds that low magnesium levels in potato tubers cause significant moisture loss during storage, especially in sandy soils of the Sandveld and Koue Bokkeveld regions. The research reveals that maintaining a proper magnesium balance is crucial for potato post-harvest quality and provides insight for growers on effective storage and marketing strategies.

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