Smart Farming

GROPRO: Providing growers with the efficacy needed for an organic IPM program

The importance of organic production in the USA continues to rise with total sales of organic products in 2019 hitting $55 billion. Currently, it’s the biggest global market for organic products (# 2 is Germany and #3 is France). To meet this growing market demand, GROP. a USA based producer and supplier of bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers, has been approved for 6 OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) listed materials. With these certifications, GROPRO brings a wide and effective portfolio into the organic agricultural market.

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Potato tuber treatment – specialist advice

Appropriate tuber treatment is an essential step in developing healthy and abundant harvests, according to potato specialists at AHDB in the UK. In a recent news article, AHDB says the cost of growing potatoes is likely to increase in the following years as a result of replacing lost chemicals; potential losses due to diseases must be avoided whenever possible through application of the correct treatment, starting with the seed. As this is a complex process, AHDB says potato seed producers, traders and end users are encouraged to seek information regarding the correct treatment procedure, such as the best time to apply the chemicals or the stage of the skin set.

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Upcoming WPC webinar: Prof Jacquie Van Der Waals on diseases threatening sustainable potato production

The World Potato Congress is pleased to be beginning its Fall webinar series on November 12, 2020 with Professor Jacquie van der Waals from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Professor van der Waals will present – “Above and Below Ground: Diseases threatening sustainable potato production”. This presentation will discuss three important disease complexes in potatoes, namely Rhizoctoniasis, soft rot and blackleg, early blight and brown spot. For each of these disease complexes, Prof van der Waals will introduce the pathogen, give a description of symptoms, discuss the disease cycle and touch on basic management principles.

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UK: Improved ‘Safe Haven’ standards provide added protection for British seed potato exports

The certification scheme, ‘Safe Haven’, has recently been reviewed and updated to cover areas such as closer monitoring of water use and crop storage, AHDB says in a news release published yesterday. Administered by Red Tractor, the UK’s largest food standards scheme, Safe Haven protects against any pest or disease that can be imported or introduced by seed, AHDB says. The seed potato sector is important for the British potato industry as a whole as seed potatoes are a valuable export commodity.

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UK: McDonald’s and McCain to invest in climate-friendly farming practices

McDonald’s has launched a “Sustainable MacFries Fund” in partnership with McCain to improve the resilience of British potato farmers, while also collaborating with the Walmart Foundation, WWF and Cargill in the US to improve land use practices, according to a report by Matt Mace, and published edie newsroom. The fund aims to support British potato farmers to use new techniques and technology that will improve soil quality and water management.

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Innovative Farmers: Can brackish water be used for potato irrigation?

New trials run by Innovative Farmers Field lab and funded by AHDB in the UK will research the possibility of using brackish water for potato irrigation. Irrigation plays a vital role in potato quality. Growers in areas such as Holbeach Marsh, one of the driest regions in the UK, are facing considerable economic yield losses due to common scab. Under future climate projections AHDB and Innovative Farmers anticipate more unpredictability in rainfall events, increased saline intrusion of groundwater reserves and therefore a more vulnerable freshwater supply, which could impact on potato yields in the area.

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8 ways the Internet of Things is transforming the future of farming

Smart farms are defined as using modern technology and information to manage them. There are many new technologies available for farmers to use including sensors, software, robotics, GPS, connectivity, and data analytics. Farmers monitor their crops, soil, water, and temperatures without leaving their home. This is often called IoT in farming. In this article by Varsha Ambalkar, published by The Daily Plan IoT, the author looks in more detail at IoT in farming.

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National Potato Council and Corteva in Kenya to introduce new technologies and train smallholder farmers

The National Potato Council of Kenya and Corteva Agriscience have embarked on plans to increase yield among smallholder farmers from 7 tonnes to 20 tonnes per hectare. The partnership intends to introduce new technologies and train smallholder farmers in Kenya on how to improve potato yields through the use of quality seed, resilient and improved varieties, pest and disease management, post-harvest management, and record-keeping.

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Scottish farmers trial biocontrol methods in fight against PCN

Angus farmers are at the forefront of efforts to tackle the growing problem of potato cyst nematode (PCN) which is having a multi-million-pound impact on the Scottish industry every year. As chemical options are withdrawn from use, a group of producers and researchers have turned their attention to biocontrol methods, which include using a chitin-rich compost made from a substance that occurs naturally in shellfish.

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Potatoes New Zealand issues technical bulletin on Potato Tuber Moth management

As New Zealand Spring and Summer rolls towards potato growers, so too do the myriad of pest and disease management activities. One of the greatest challenges especially for growers, is the control of Potato Tuber Moth (PTM). Potatoes New Zealand’s recently completed PTM literature review looks at the various control approaches to this pest and suggests an integrated approach to PTM management. The review of scientific publications from the last 10 years on potato tuber moth research, focusses on several management options.

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Innovative Farmers programme: Deceiving potato cyst nematodes with trap crops

Through the Innovative Farmers programme, four farmers located in Shropshire and Lancashire in the UK are looking at an alternative control method that uses plants known as trap crops that naturally ward off potato cyst nematodes (PCN). Trap crops are better described as ‘deceiving’ rather than ‘trapping’ plants. The chemicals released from the trap crop roots signal the presence of suitable food and trigger the nematodes to emerge from their safe hiding place in the cyst. The nematodes begin feeding on the trap plant roots instead of the potatoes, ahead of potato cropping.

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Grimme’s Ventor 4150: ‘The rise of a revolution in harvesting technology’

In a recently released YouTube video, GRIMME showcases the development of its Ventor 4150 potato harvester – from design to the final commercial end product. According to GRIMME, the VENTOR 4150 is the first 4-row self-propelled harvester based on the SE-principle (sieving, conveying and haulm separation). The powerful 530 HP machine with its 15 tonne unloading bunker is the first harvester to be fitted with the SE system, which increases productivity significantly when compared to a 2 row harvester.

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Canada: Researchers study the benefits of precision irrigation for potato growers

Researchers in Canada’s Alberta province are studying how potato farmers and their crops could benefit from new irrigation technology. The industry and government supported project “Towards Climate-Robust Irrigation Water Management for Potato Production” is now in the second year of its 4-year run. The project is investigating if precision irrigation can help increase water use efficiency and potato crop yields in Alberta.

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PCN: ‘How we’re getting to the root of a global pest threatening potatoes in East Africa’

Despite an increase of 60% in the area of cultivated land, production has been declining from an average of 20 tonnes a hectare to around 9.1 in Rwanda, 8.6 in Kenya and 4.3 in Uganda. This is way below the potential production of 40 tonnes a hectare. The factors contributing to the low and declining yields include losses due to attack by a range of pests and diseases. Potato cyst nematodes (PCN) are the most recent pest threat to emerge in the region. Targeting the nematode during hatching and just before it invades host roots, stands out as the most vulnerable life stage to target for their management.

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Strategies for the control of potato mop-top and tobacco rattle viruses

Potato mop-top virus (PMTV) and tobacco rattle virus (TRV) are very different viruses, but the symptoms they cause are virtually identical. In this article, Carrie Huffman Wohleb – Associate Professor at Washington State University – takes a closer look at these viruses and suggests potential control strategies. “Spraing” is an old term used to describe the brown arcs, flecks, or rings in the flesh of tubers that result from potato mop-top or tobacco rattle infection. If you see these symptoms, it’s important to find out which virus you are dealing with, because their management strategies differ.

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AVR and Dacom Farm Intelligence offer field data on a silver platter

For some time now, producer of agricultural machinery AVR has been offering agricultural companies technology for data collection. This data is displayed on the digital platform AVR Connect, offering the farmer improved, real time insights into what is going on inside the machine, how it is operating, and how the process can be made more efficient. This platform has been further developed in collaboration with Dacom Farm Intelligence, allowing for the parcel data to be linked to the machine data, which results in an even more comprehensive overview.

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‘Smart Farmer’: An app that assists farmers to keep accurate checks on agricultural machinery

By law, all agriculture vehicles, trailers and machinery require to be properly maintained and fit for purpose. Daily checks must be carried out and a record of these checks should be recorded – traditionally these have been done on paper. Before developing the Smart Farmer app, “I now know exactly what condition each piece of machinery or vehicle is in, who last used it, when it was checked, no matter where I am on the farm and receive an email notification when a issue has been raised,” says app developer, March Skivington. Failing to find an existing solution to meet his needs and after speaking with a number of safety consultants and the Health and Safety, he embarked on developing Smart Farmer. Marc explained.

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Novel decision support tool under development for preventative in-field potato disease testing

Dr Sarah Sommer and her market research team is working on multiplexed potato virus lateral flow assays at the Newcastle University. The aim is to develop a simple but effective preventative disease testing kit that combines with a smart phone app. Sarah would like to know how the tool can be used in a practical environment and connect with interested potato industry people with whom she can discuss the concept, its further development and eventual application.

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‘British potato crops at risk of disease during slower desiccation’, say specialists

Potato growers in the UK are at risk of virus and disease threat if they do not follow an integrated approach to new desiccation regimes, say experts working on the third year of desiccation trials taking place across AHDB Farm Excellence sites. Results and observations at the trial sites have shown that the slower ‘kill’ achieved by the chemical and mechanical alternatives to diquat means that green stems and leaves can still be present up to three weeks after desiccation sprays. Even very small amounts of ‘green material’ remain a viable target for virus-carrying aphids and diseases.

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Latest desiccation research: Reaching skinset depends on a range of factors

You cannot use what’s happening above ground as a guide to what’s happening below, according to new research into alternative desiccants, according to potato specialists at the UK’s AHDB. A key finding from the work is that the rate of potato foliage desiccation does not correlate well with that of skinset, the key to harvesting without damage. The discovery was among the key findings of a project examining the best alternative desiccants to diquat carried out by NIAB CUF on behalf of AHDB.

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Down history lane: The first Spudnik ‘AirSep’ potato harvester marks the start of a potato equipment success story

Potato growre Matthew Porter approached Spudnik Equipment Company in Idaho in 2010 to see how he can increase the quality and reduce the bruising of the potatoes grown and harvested on his farm in the fertile but rocky soil of Maine. After a year of development efforts, Spudnik’s motivated engineers came up with a new technology and a solution for Matthew’s problem. It was called the ‘AirSep’. After a year of development efforts, Spudnik’s motivated engineers came up with a new technology and a solution for Matthew’s problem. It was called the ‘AirSep’.

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Webinar now online: Desiccation – how to apply diquat alternatives to potato crops

AHDB has published its 19 August webinar regarding potato desiccation online as a YouTube video. I shows pictures and video clips of commercial potato crops during haul destruction. It also contains tips and guidance from leading researchers on how to apply desiccants, and use mechanical alternatives to diquat for desiccation of potato crops. Trial results and observations from research into how to desiccate seed potato and ware potato crops without diquat are in the spotlight as well in the video.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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