Smart Farming

The future of drones in farming

Data, and the analysis derived from drone flights, is critically important to a farmer. The most common use case of drone derived data and analytics is early weed and disease detection, which protects crop yield and reduces herbicide use. Farmers also look for plant counting analytics, which can increase yield by improving early-season replanting and better predict yields, in the data they are looking for from a drone system.

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Better potatoes post-harvest: Identifying diseases and engaging good management techniques

When the storage doors open and farmers look at their cured potatoes, they are hoping for high-quality spuds that will garner a fair price. Unfortunately, potatoes can be sneaky. Some don’t reveal problems until harvest, or worse, when they are already in storage. Determining which disease is present allows for better management and application of appropriate controls. However, treatments in potatoes vary and there are no silver bullets. Potato diseases work together to exacerbate each other, and pests help to increase disease risk.

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Ag drone company developing fully autonomous spraying and seeding drone

The days of swarming drones in Nebraska skies have just begun. Rantizo — a relatively new player in the drone industry — is upping the game with its crop spraying technologies and bringing competition to the traditional aerial application business. Rantizo has shirked the spot treatment status quo, reaching full field capabilities with one drone covering 14 acres an hour. “Within the next two years, our goal is 100 acres per hour,” said David Pieper, Rantizo director of sales.

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UK: Elveden estate gets in Tuberzone precision to manage potato crops

One of Britain’s biggest arable farming operations will be the first commercial company to roll out the latest precision potato technology developed by Angus-based SoilEssentials. One of Britain’s biggest arable farming operations will be the first commercial company to roll out the latest precision potato technology developed by Angus-based SoilEssentials.

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Australia: Past ‘Farmers of the Year’ reflect on success ahead of 2020 awards

Australian potato farmers Susie and Gerard Daly were named Farmers of the Year in 2019, and the exposure from the win has boosted their business. The family runs a potato farm in Dunalley, on Tasmania’s south-east coast, and has spent the past couple of months ramping up their business amid increasing demand due to COVID-19. “For us it’s been a godsend, in that people are staying at home and cooking so we saw the fresh potato market increase by 40 per cent nationally in the first month of the epidemic,” Ms Daly said.

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Scottish potato producer looking for solutions for the seed industry

Seed potato producer, Jim Reid, from Milton of Mathers farm, St Cyrus, near Montrose, joined AHDB’s strategic farm network as the new host SPot farmer in Scotland at the start of the year, according to a report released by AHDB. At Milton of Mathers farm, multiple studies on desiccation have been carried out over the last nine years. As part of the desiccation trials that will be carried out at the farm, different fertilising regimes will be compared as well as the impact of cultivation.

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‘Potatofied’ innovations: Developing entrepreneurial skills among Indian potato farmers

There is, perhaps, no vegetable in the world as versatile as the potato. And farmers in Assam, India, are proving this fact by developing numerous innovations to bring new products into local markets. The innovations have been created through Value Chain Schools (VCS) within the Assam Agri-Business and Rural Transformation Project (APART) – a project dedicated to fostering entrepreneurial skills among small and marginalized farmers in Assam.

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A robust blight strategy more essential than ever as new blight strains continue to evolve

Control strategies for late blight are constantly developing as the pathogen causing the disease evolves and the available blight chemistry changes, either due to regulation or efficacy shifts due to fungicide resistance, according to independent agronomy company Farmacy Plc in the UK. Overcoming issues such as these is a key part of the Hutchinsons’ blight trials, first set up in 1997. The trial is managed specifically to test products individually under higher blight pressure than might otherwise be found in the field.

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Potato growers advised to mind spray drift and effective coverage to prevent blight infection

Keeping late blight out of potatoes is a season long campaign for growers and one that seems to be getting tougher as the years go by, with seven day spray intervals now standard practice, say crop specialists at UK based adjuvant supplier, Interagro. They point out that with resistance to fluazinam now established in the blight populations and a continuing shift towards more aggressive P. infestans populations, such as 36­_A2 and 37_A2, a robust resistance management strategy is essential to safeguard crops and chemistry.

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New blight strain threat: Late blight control strategies will have to change in Britain this season

Late Blight control strategies in the United Kingdom will have to change this season if potato growers are to combat the spread of a new aggressive, fungicide-insensitive/ resistant strain of the disease, leading agronomy firm Hutchinsons says. The dark green 37_A2 form of Phytopthora infestans has quickly spread across Europe, reaching England two years ago when five cases were reported. The new strain is at least, if not more, aggressive than the dominant blue 13 and pink 6, but the crucial difference is that it appears equally aggressive on foliar and tuber blight.

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Farming solutions pioneers announced partnership with world-class potato producer

Angus based precision farming solutions pioneers SoilEssentials have announced a new partnership with Elveden, a world-class producer and purveyor of local and regional food excellence. SoilEssentials and Elveden are proud to be working together using Tuberzone and Tuberzone CropCast to better manage potato crops for optimum size distribution and crop value, so reducing food waste. The Tuberzone suite of applications use data and not physical inputs to improve potato crops, and so are an environmental win-win.

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Potato scout training in Canada goes virtual for 2020 season

Every year, Dr Eugenia Banks, potato specialist with the Ontario Potato Board hosts a training day on how to scout potato fields. This year, in response to COVID-19, the training session is being brought online into a three-part webinar series. On May 21 and May 28, Potatoes in Canada, with support from BASF, will host three webinars on scouting best practices for diseases, pests and physiological disorders in potatoes.

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Now in Eastern Canada: Unique eco-friendly hydrogel that helps maintain soil moisture, reduces watering frequency

Éco+ is proud to announce the addition of a revolutionary new hydrogel, Stockosorb 660, to its product line.The Stockosorb 660 hydrogel is a unique product that is mixed with fertilizer and put in-furrow to help maintain moisture in irrigation and dryland crops such as potato. Thanks to this technology, a single Stockosorb660 crystal can absorb up to 70 to 120 times its weight in water, which can reduce the watering frequency by up to 50%.

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Trial shows best nematicide strategy for PCN in potatoes

A sequences approach using a liquid nematicide with a new mode of action along with an existing granular product is the best approach for tackling potato cyst nematode, according to trials carried out by specialist potato agronomy group Produce Solutions. The company has spent three years testing the nematicide in Shropshire, using it alone and in sequence with granular nematicides at different rates. The firm now has a clearer view on its place in potato cyst nematode strategies and the costs involved.

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Focus on biostimulants: Keep potato crops stress free with ‘Bridgeway’

Keeping potato crops stress free is not an easy job for growers, particularly when one considers the key growth periods of June through to August are also potentially some of the most stressful for the crop, with temperature and drought stress being particularly prevalent. Interagro’s Bridgeway biostimulant product is said to offer the possibility of reducing stress by improving root health and by increasing the rate of photosynthesis.

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Podcast: Adding to the potato rotation to boost soil health

This episode of the Potatoes in Canada podcast series “Tuber Talk” focuses on the practices in Prince Edward Island, one of Canada’s largest potato producing provinces. Ryan Barrett, research coordinator with the P.E.I. Potato Board, shares what crops P.E.I. producers are adding to the rotation to boost soil health. Barrett discusses what they’ve seen with mustards, buckwheat, sorghum sudangrass, Pearl millet, on top of sharing his experiences working on the Island.

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Medius Ag announces expanded agricultural data management services, new Director of Business Development

Agricultural data management company Medius Ag is announcing the expansion of its software solutions to a broader range of commodities around the globe through the launch of its new platform, Medius.Re. Medius Ag is also announcing the addition of Ryan Krabill as the company’s Director of Business Development. Mr. Krabill, a 15-year veteran of U.S. agriculture and early collaborator with Medius Ag, will manage outreach to other commodities around the globe from his office in Denver, Colorado.

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Haith helps the Jersey Royal Company reduce labour costs with new de-stoners

Jersey’s largest grower, packer and marketer of Jersey Royal new potatoes has seen a significant reduction in labour costs this season thanks to a project undertaken with the Haith Group. Jersey’s largest grower, packer and marketer of Jersey Royal new potatoes has seen a significant reduction in labour costs this season thanks to a project undertaken with the Haith Group.

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British farming show goes digital in face of coronavirus lockdown

Rural communities disappointed by the cancellation of farming shows due to coronavirus will still be able to experience the fun of the fair from their homes – by joining the first online agricultural show, Farmers Weekly reports. The free one-day event takes place on Saturday (2 May) and will feature the farming competitions, debates, innovations and demonstrations that are usually commonplace at shows across the country during the summer.

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Organic farmers pivot from selling to restaurants to homes amid coronavirus

New York’s farmers who can no longer sell crops to Big Apple restaurants are turning to a new business model: Boxing up produce for the growing hordes of home cooks, Jennifer Gould Keil reports in New York Post. Zaid Kurdieh, an organic farmer in Norwich, NY, used to rely on sales to top chefs and restaurateurs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Thomas Keller and Danny Meyer for 60 percent of his revenues. But with Gotham’s dining scene shuttered, Kurdieh has pivoted from packing up “hundreds of pounds” of produce for restaurateurs to curating 12- to 24-pound food boxes for home chefs.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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