Smart Farming

Agrico East Africa goes digital – and Kenyan potato farmers love it…

The Agrico East Africa team was working hard the past few months to produce video tutorials on ‘Profitable Potato Farming in Kenya’. They did this in a well-rewarded effort to continue their work of rendering agronomic support to smallholder farmers in Kenya, despite the debilitating COVID-19 restrictions that was imposed on Kenyan citizens during the pandemic. Agrico East Africa (EA), operating as Potato Services Africa Limited, has been working in Kenya since 2015 as a merchant of – Kenyan produced – certified potato seed. Agrico East Africa (EA), operating as Potato Services Africa Limited, has been working in Kenya since 2015 as a merchant of – Kenyan produced – certified potato seed.

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New app aids accurate slug pellet application for British growers

A new online tool aiming to improve accuracy of slug pellet applications is now available, allowing operators to effectively set up uniform and precise pellet doses, according to a news story published by Farmers Weekly in the UK today. The app, named Calibration Wizard, which has been developed by slug pellet manufacturer Certis, in partnership with SCS Spreader and Sprayer Testing, hopes to reduce labour time calibrating equipment.

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Czech potato farmer develops one-of-a-kind vending machine

One local potato producing company in the south of the Czech Republic is taking advantage of tourism to the area and developed and then installed a one-of-a-kind potato vending machine in the barn door on its property, reports Samantha Tatro for expats-cz. The vending machine lets people insert coins and to buy fresh potatoes, according to Viktor Kopa?ka, the company’s director. The varieties of potatoes available at the vending machine will change over time, depending on what’s in season. Right now, the machine sells the Suzan variety of potatoes.

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Upcoming webinar: Desiccation – how to apply diquat alternatives to potato crops

Next Wednesday, 19 August 2020, AHDB in the UK will host a webinar focused on potato desiccation. During this online event, participants will get an in-field view of this year’s SPot Farm desiccation trials, as AHDB continues to provide independent data on how best to replace diquat as a desiccant. Observations from this year’s crop will be discussed, as well as a look at completed trial results from previous seasons and an interview with lead trials researcher Mark Stalham, before an online Q&A.

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AVR’s foldable ridger meets demand for mechanical weed control

Mechanical weed control is more and more becoming an essential part of farmers cultivation practices, and is no longer limited to biological cultivation only. For years now, AVR has been successfully designing and selling its combination ridging machine, which consists of a base chassis with a characteristic ‘weight transfer’ system, to which different elements can be added. This way the machine can be used as a speed ridger, hoe-rake ridger or an ‘eco ridger’. AVR introduces a foldable version to be able to remove weeds from even more ridges in one working pass

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Potato haulm destruction – take a hybrid approach without diquat

With many seed potato crops around Scotland coming up to size rapidly, potato growers are getting to grips with haulm destruction which will become part of the ‘new norm’ in the post-diquat era. The good news is that there are still viable options to bring down even vigorous canopies, but a change of mindset is needed. The industry standard is now to ‘flail-and-spray’. The canopy is destroyed with a pulveriser and one or more follow-up desiccant sprays are used to finish the job and to prevent regrowth.

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The technology behind a new agricultural revolution

By 2050, Earth is projected to be home to ten billion people. To feed them, we will need to increase crop production by at least 60 percent, writes Matt Harman in this blog article published by ESRI. Yet climate change, water scarcity, and soil erosion will force us to rethink how we grow crops. And rampant urbanization, with so many people living far away from agricultural areas, will force us to find more efficient ways to distribute food. The third green revolution builds on established precision agriculture practices, while creating a larger picture of the agricultural landscape farmers are operating within.

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Managing waste potato piles

Outgrade potato piles can be a source of blight. In this article AHDB specialists in the UK are discussing blight control methods in outgrade and waste piles as well as best practice and tips for tackling this issue. Blight control does not start in the crop. It starts much earlier. Left uncontrolled, outgrade and waste piles act as a reservoir for blight infection. With ever changing genotypes within the blight populations, outgrade piles and volunteers can be an unwanted host for blight and a source of infection for commercial crops.

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Postdoc development of a decision-support system for potato production

Are you that enthusiastic researcher that likes to work on modelling and programming, and apply it to improve processes in crop production? ‘Yield gap analysis for sustainable potato production’ (Potato Gap NL) is a project funded by NWO and Holland Innovative Potato (HIP), an initiative of 10 companies active in the potato value chain and prominent global players in the fields of potato breeding and processing. Increases in potato yields in the Netherlands have been relatively small compared to other crops.

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Dutch ag sector has ‘lowest environmental footprint’ in the world

The Dutch agricultural sector is said to have, relatively speaking, the lowest environmental impact of all countries in the world. That is what ABN Amro says. According to the bank, the joint ‘footprint of CO2, energy, pesticides and antibiotics in the Netherlands is the smallest per kilo of agricultural product.’ “We produce more per hectare of land here than any other country,” says Jan de Ruyter, agricultural sector banker at ABN Amro.

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‘Water efficiency crucial during prolonged dry summers’

Identifying hotspots and increased use of drip-feed irrigation equipment will be key to increased grower efficiency in the UK, minimising the toll on domestic water supply, and stopping the potential introduction of abstraction reforms, an expert has claimed. According to an article published by UK based trade magazine Potato Review, more than 50% of potatoes produced in the UK are irrigated, and in recent years the country has experienced reduced water availability and increased demand as a result of the hotter, drier summers, which are set to stay for the future.

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Automation made easy: Greentronic’s RiteWeight product now comes with enhanced features

Can you use an easy and accurate method for tracking loads and weights by date, field, variety, temperature, and cellar? According to Bill Menkveld at Ontario, Canada-based Greentronics, the company offers a solution. Greentronics recently added several new features to its well-known RiteWeight in-line conveyor scale product. These enhanced features were developed to assist potato growers with an easy process to automate their harvest and storage data recording.

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Storage life post-CIPC: AHDB specialists address key grower concerns

Three storage webinars hosted by AHDB in the UK in June were an opportunity for British growers and store managers to hear from the team of storage experts at Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, as well as cleaning and agronomy specialists. To complement the webinar sessions AHDB answered some frequently asked questions around key topics of potato storage post CIPC in a news release issued today.

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What’s new in Canadian potato production?

In her column Tater Tales, published by Spud Smart magazine, Dr Eugenia Banks (Ontario Potato Board) is looking at three aspects of Canadian potato production — the risk of insecticide resistance in Colorado potato beetles (CPBs), “lazy” potato varieties which sprout unevenly, and bio-fumigation for soil health improvement.

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McCain Foods to build three Farms of the Future to showcase regenerative farming practices

McCain Foods announced last week a commitment to improving the sustainability of our products, including the iconic French Fry, with a key focus on creating a more sustainable approach to potato farming. Key to this commitment is building three Farms of the Future to showcase how regenerative farming practices and the latest agricultural technology and innovations, can be implemented at scale. In partnership with leading academics and suppliers, each will focus on demonstrating that more sustainable practices can also create a more financially viable future for farming, while at the same time increasing food production.

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UK: ‘Let’s talk!’ – AHDB open session announced

Folks, the following note was sent to us here at Global Potato News, and we are happy to publish it for your information as such. AHDB: We are pleased to invite you to this open session of the AHDB Potato Board where we will be discussing the potato levy and storage research. In response to what was said in Defra’s Request for Views about how the potato levy is collected, we are reviewing the basis of how your levy is calculated this summer and welcome businesses sharing their views with us. We will outline how the levy is collected, and why the system was created in its current form, before sharing some ideas we’ve already received on potential options for the future.

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How a Canadian potato operation is practicing minimal tillage

Potatoes aren’t usually the poster child for minimal tillage. The reality of the planting, hilling and digging cycle usually means plenty of dirt, some of it airborne. But dramatically reducing tillage is exactly what Chad Berry, of Under the Hill Farms near Glenboro in Canada’s Manitoba province, is trying to do. Berry’s farm, in association with Simplot Canada, is host this year to a demonstration trial hoping to collect data on direct-seeded potatoes, part of Berry’s ongoing efforts to limit soil disturbance and wind erosion on his farm.

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Rooted apical cuttings bridging the seed potato gap in Kenya

Potato is the second most consumed crop in Kenya after maize. However, majority of the farmers still struggle to access quality clean seed and this has always led to reduced productivity. Using rooted apical cuttings introduced through USAID’s Feed the Future Accelerated Value Chain Development Program (AVCD) is changing this. Cuttings are similar to nursery grown seedlings. They are produced from tissue culture plantlets in a screenhouse and are clean and free from disease.

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Spud Scoop newsletter: Late blight severity, herbicide injury and aphid trap counts

NDSU Extension and University of Minnesota last week introduced a new growing season newsletter that will combine information for potato growers. In the first issue of Spud Scoop, potato specialists cover late blight severity, herbicide injury and aphid trap counts. Late blight has not been reported in ND, MN or MB at the time of the publication (July 3). The number of herbicide injury problems in potato have been more commonplace, according to Andy Robinson. Ian MacRae reports that aphid trap capture overall was very low with few aphids being recovered in traps.

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Newly launched ‘next generation’ soil test helps growers to manage and improve soil health

A&L Canada Laboratories Inc. recently announced the launch of VitTellus Bio, a new soil health test for the agriculture industry that quantifies soil microbial populations which support improved soil health and greater crop productivity. A&L says in a news release that VitTellus Bio is a new analysis which complements the VitTellus Soil Health test, a diagnostic used to make more informed decisions on application of nutrients, managing and improving soil health.

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The cost of potato haulm desiccation without diquat

According to AHDB in the UK, Spotlight and/or Gozai straights or combinations, along with flailing, can give virtually as quick desiccation as diquat. This was shown in trials and demonstrations across AHDB’s Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm network to evaluate potential replacements have shown. But at what cost? Dr Mark Stalham, Head of NIAB CUF who led the trials, reveals the results, and Mark Topliff from AHDB’s Farm Economics team crunches the numbers.

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Innovative Farmers: Establishing potato cyst nematode trap crops

Innovative Farmers, a not for profit membership network for farmers and growers in the UK, reports on a ‘field lab’ that explores the practice of establishing trap crops to control potato cyst nematode (PCN) – the UK’s primary potato pest. Currently, the main control option is to use nematicides hazardous to operators and the environment, which only prevent one season’s crop yield and do not prevent PCN increase. Innovative Farmers says an alternative cultural control method is the use of trap crops, which limit nematode multiplication and reduce existing soil PCN populations.

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Videos show best practices to minimize tuber bruising

The University of Idaho and the Idaho Potato Commission have produced a series of short videos in which growers will find hints and tips on how to minimize bruising of potato tubers throughout the production process and when moving potatoes into marketing channels. These videos were recently uploaded by Bill Schaeffer to his YouTube channel.

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AHDB webinar: Putting research into practice

Listen during this upcoming AHDB Potatoes webinar tomorrow (9 July) to what potato growers are planning across the AHDB strategic farm network. Through the week folks will have learnt about markets, research and commercial innovation – this session will discuss how this is being applied in the field and what growers can do to progress. Eric Anderson will offer an agronomist’s perspective on how we can build better strategies towards PCN management and the latest views on alternative approaches to virus control.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor/Publisher of Potato News Today


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