Smart Farming

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 British entrepreneur who ‘turned potatoes into gold – twice’

William Chase is not your average farmer. The Herefordshire-born 60-year-old has gone from bankruptcy to making millions by turning potatoes into crisps and vodka, and is now hoping to make a fortune from apples, reports Hannah Uttley in an exclusive article published by The Telegraph. Chase is now building his Willy’s Wellness brand, which produces gut health products such as apple cider vinegar and kombucha.

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Webinar: Global climate change and potato storages

The World Potato Congress (WPC Inc) is pleased to present its next webinar on January 14, 2021 with Todd Forbush, long-time engineer with Techmark, Inc. Todd’s presentation is titled: “The impact of climate change on removing energy from a potato storage with an ambient air ventilation system”. Todd will inform participants about ambient air potato storage ventilation systems relying on cool outside air to remove energy from the potato storage resulting from both field heat and potato respiration.

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Canada: Potato growers and researchers collaborate to implement sustainable farming practices

The Living Laboratories Initiative is a four-year research partnership between Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), farmers and environmental organizations, where research is co-developed and managed on farms to produce farming practices tailored to local environments. Launched in 2019, the Atlantic site – located in Prince Edward Island (PEI) – is the first-of-its-kind in Canada. Research at Living Lab – Atlantic is addressing several key areas impacting potato producers in PEI, including soil health, water quality management and crop productivity.

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A quarter of Kenyan potato farmers adopt more productive varieties

Africa’s first potato farmers were European settlers who introduced the crop in the late 1800s, but few Africans grew it before the mid-1950s. Since then, the tuber has taken off, with more than 25 million metric tons produced in Africa in 2017. According to the International Potato Center (CIP), potato is now the second most important food crop in Kenya after maize, grown by 800,000 small-scale farmers and generating employment for an estimated 2.5 million people along the value chain. Improved potato varieties introduced by CIP have the potential to significantly boost farm incomes.

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US agriculture industry bets on carbon as a new ‘cash crop’

US farmers make their living raising crops from the soil each year. Now, some are getting paid for putting something back into their fields: carbon. In an article published by the Wall Street Journal, correspondent Jacob Bunge writes that big agriculture companies including Bayer AG , Nutrien Ltd. and Cargill Inc. are jockeying with startups to encourage crop producers to adopt climate-friendly practices and develop farming-driven carbon markets.

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Future Farming: You cannot hide from the satellite!

There are many movies where satellites offer scary surveillance capabilities. Of course, it is science fiction, but with the latest commercial satellites some level of space surveillance of crops and fields can be achieved. Besides the Big Brother effect, farmers can also benefit from the satellite imagery with increasing detail that become readily available at increasing cadence, writes Tamme van der Wal, scientist at Wageningen University in this article published by Future Farming.

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Smart farming: The growing role of precision agriculture and biotech

Farming has always involved risk. Risk of pestilence, water shortages or excess, and weather events are only a few of the conditions affecting successful crop growth. Applied nutrients and crop protectors help plants thrive but can result in environmental harm. Given sustainability concerns, growing tomorrow’s food supply is even more fraught with challenges. The good news is that agricultural technology designed to address this growing need is booming. Smart farming technologies are gaining steam, with innovations ranging from seed breeding to seed feeding to the ability to monitor crops and conditions in real time.

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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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Documentary: Drones, robots, and super sperm – the future of farming

The future of farming: Driverless tractors, drones and robots. How is the agriculture industry changing as digital technology develops? Unmanned tractors controlled via GPS; drones that kill vermin in the fields from above; and highly efficient bull sperm used to produce genetically optimized calves. This is not science fiction. It’s the future of farming, today. “Smart farming” is the agricultural industry’s new buzzword, says the producers of this video by Deutsche Welle Documentary.

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‘Fight the blight’: CIP developed an app to help potato farmers in developing countries reduce agrochemical use

Late blight disease remains the biggest threat to potato farming globally, causing USD billions of crop loss each year. In most areas, farmers can only grow potatoes if they regularly apply fungicides, which control the highly destructive pathogen but pose risks to the environment, farmers and their families. Scientists at the International Potato Center (CIP) have developed an easy-to-use decision support tool to help farmers optimize their fungicide use.

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Specialist opinion: ‘Adopting IPM on commercial farms’ – An insight from New Zealand

During the recent CropTec show in the UK – which was hosted and presented as a virtual, online event – Prof Alison Stewart from New Zealand shared her experience of developing and implementing IPM on commercial farms. She is the CEO of the Foundation for Edible Research in New Zealand. Prof Stewart says there are a large number of global challenges out there for agriculture in every country in the world, and New Zealand is no different.

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A potato store in your pocket: ‘SmartStor’ now comes with sprout suppressant application mode for DMN, mint oil and ethylene

Crop Systems Limited is the UK’s premiere manufacturer and installer of potato and vegetable stores. In the past 25 years it has built an enviable reputation for combining innovative thinking with outstanding engineering and products. Crop System’s latest system – the SmartStor – enables operators to monitor and manage stores remotely, while reducing crop storage costs.

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Hummingbird demonstrates the value of remote sensing and data analytics for potato seed trials

Many of Hummingbird’s clients have used its remoting sensing technology and data analytic capabilities for numerous crop trials across Europe in the past few seasons. One of Hummingbird’s clients was particularly interested in evaluating the establishment and growth rate differences when planting chitted versus non chitted potato seed in a split field trial. Hummingbird then proceeded to provide the client with high resolution UAV drone analytics at specific growth stages throughout the cropping season.

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Smart farming: How IoT-driven precision agriculture helps feed the globe

In the agriculture industry, farmers face an ever-growing demand to produce more food, even as they struggle to protect their farms against extreme weather, climate change, environmental impact, and more. To meet the increasing needs of a growing population and get the most yield from their farms, growers are turning to new technology powered by the Internet of Things (IoT).

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Potato sprout control: How to keep mint oil as a fog?

Mint oil has been used successfully in the pre-pack sector in the UK to control sprouting. Its use in warmer storage this season is generally new. Recently, there have been a few reports of product build-up in its liquid form on crops in processing stores in Britain, leading to some localised issues. The key to the effectiveness of mint oil is to keep the active as a fog during application.

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Idaho family farming operation invests in soil probiotic technology for organic potato production

The owners of Hubbard Ranch in Grace, Idaho, transitioned to growing organically last year. But with less than favorable results in their first season, they knew they needed to make cost-effective adjustments. They decided to look into using products that would increase the natural biology in the soil and prevent yield loss. It was recommended that they try a microbial soil amendment.

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‘Turning the precision into a decision’: John Deere launches digital farming hub for growers down under

John Deere has launched a new digital platform to help farmers in Australia and New Zealand leverage the data of their technology more effectively. René Groeneveld, Future Farming correspondent for Australia writes that the new John Deere Digital Agriculture Hub will offer digital information, insights and learning resources. It will help growers to use data in decision-making and offers how-to-videos and case studies.

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US Potato Harvest 2020: A video compilation

The potato harvest is a highlight for most potato farmers around the world, big and small growers alike. At times it turns out to be the “cherry on the cake” after a long season of sweat and toil, especially when pleasant surprises are unexpectedly unearthed. Other times it might turn out to be a time rife with disappointment and agony – a time best forgotten as soon as possible. However it might turn out to be, harvest time is always marked by a good measure of excitement and anticipation.

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Keeping soil alive with regenerative agriculture

Four researchers from the Global Food and Environment Institute examine the benefits of regenerative agriculture to celebrate World Soil Day this past Saturday, the 5th of December The researchers are from the University of Leeds in the UK: Professor Steve Banwart, Professor Pippa Chapman, Dr Gesa Reiss, and Professor Lisa Collins. Their article was first published on Medium, and we republish it below with much thanks and great appreciation for their excellent work.

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Bogballe launches new intelligent monitor for fertiliser spreaders

The Calibrator Totz monitor offers fully automatic calibration, GPS section control and use of application maps. Danish company Bogballe says the Totz computer allows growers to optimise spreading of fertiliser. The Calibrator Totz incorporates an advanced monitoring system that can diagnose electronic functions of the spreader. The diagnosis is carried out continuously, both when switching on the Totz as during spreading.

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Precision farming: Yield and field-to-storage load monitoring on a Canadian potato farm

Ontario potato farmers Kate and Peter Vander Zaag were among the first to adopt potato yield monitoring and, more recently, field-to-storage load tracking and mapping. Tech-savvy producers who prioritize quality, the Vander Zaags believe capturing quality information is key to growing better potatoes. Bill Menkveld, VP of Sales and Marketing at Canadian based precision farming company Greentronics sat down with Kate Vander Zaag to hear her perspective.

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Terrascope: Satellite imagery for agriculture applications

Terrascope says its open-source satellite imagery helps you to predict harvests, improve yields and assess damage after a storm or drought. A win-win situation for authorities, farmers, suppliers and customers, who can rely on frequently updated data. In its upcoming webinars, Terrascope specialists will explain more about the company’s services.

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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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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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