Smart Farming

Multimillion dollar programme in New Zealand aims to provide growers with a nitrogen management tool

Sustainable Vegetable Systems (SVS) is a $7.5 million dollar multi-tiered research programme, funded by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries, led and co-funded by Potatoes New Zealand in collaboration with the Vegetable Research & Innovation Board and Horticulture NZ. SVS provides the data and subsequent modelling of vegetable nutrient uptake and nitrogen leaching. Potatoes New Zealand recently uploaded three videos on its YouTube channel to explain the SVS programme goals and activities.

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Study in Canada’s Alberta province looking at rapid detection and early diagnosis of potato diseases

Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR) recently announced a project to establish a system for early and rapid diagnosis of all potato diseases, and provide Alberta potato growers a proactive surveillance platform. The outcomes from this project will benefit all Alberta’s potato producers and plant disease researchers. All results of this study will be publicly available for adoption and utilization by other commercial and research labs in the province.

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Potato Sustainability Alliance: ‘The most important time for agriculture’

This article was written by John Mesko, Executive Director, Potato Sustainability Alliance (PSA). “The topic of sustainability and all of its relatives – regenerative, climate-smart, and resource positive – are the hottest focus in agriculture right now,” Mesko wrote. “These initiatives are growing in popularity and influence because of the legitimate promise that farming practices can change the world. [But]…climate-smart practices are not being adopted as fast as climate experts tell us they need to be.”

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Sustainability: Nitrogen management in the spotlight for New Zealand’s potato and vegetable sectors

The so-called Sustainable Vegetable Systems Programme (SVS) in New Zealand is in its third year and is making great progress towards improving tools and guidelines for the country’s potato and vegetable sectors’ nitrogen management. Chris Claridge, CEO of Potatoes NZ says the organization is excited to enable a more sustainable approach to vegetable growing with positive impacts on environmental, economic and social outcomes.

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RNA-based Colorado potato beetle product hopes for 2023 registration

More help is on the way for U.S. farmers who struggle to control Colorado potato beetle, as Tim Hammerich of the Ag Information Network reports in a ‘Farm of the Future’ report. Greenlight Biosciences has reportedly developed an RNA-based pesticide alternative that chief commercial officer Mark Singleton says is highly targeted, environmentally-friendly, and safe for consumers.

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A ‘Star Trek’ for potatoes: Can McCain’s hi-tech farm in Canada save french fries from the climate crisis?

Researchers are reportedly flocking to Canada’s New Brunswick province to test both cutting-edge and bygone methods of spud cultivation to meet a challenging future. McCain’s “Farm of the Future” in the province is one of a series of laboratories the company plans to roll out across the world as it tests what practices are best suited to saving potatoes, while cutting the company’s carbon emissions. The model farm feels like a little like ‘Star Trek’ for potatoes.

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Boost to organic production: USDA to invest $300 million in new Organic Transition Initiative

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced details of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) $300 million investment in a new Organic Transition Initiative that will help build new and better markets and streams of income for farmers and producers. USDA says organic production allows producers to hold a unique position in the marketplace and thus take home a greater share of the food dollar.

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New Univ of Idaho Extension bulletin focuses on devastating potato disease – bacterial ring rot

University of Idaho Extension has published a new bulletin to help potato farmers recognize the symptoms of bacterial ring rot (BRR) and protect their operations from the devastating crop disease. UI Extension Seed Potato Specialist Kasia Duellman hopes the bulletin will remind commercial and seed potato farmers to maintain good sanitation practices and remain vigilant for symptoms. She warns ring rot “can be an existential crisis for a seed potato grower’s business”.

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Managing PCN: 6 key actions for success

Bayer Crop Science in the UK recently published an insightful article on its website, providing potato growers with advice on the management of potato cyst nematodes (PCN). According to information published in the article, the first step to effectively managing potato-cyst nematodes is to sample soils to identify the species present and the population density. This is best done after the potato crop is harvested when test results will be most accurate. Testing pre-planting is also a useful management tool.

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First-of-its-kind: McCain and Farm Credit Canada come together to support potato growers’ sustainable practices

McCain Foods and Farm Credit Canada (FCC) have come together with a new offering to reduce financial barriers for potato farmers who are transitioning to sustainable agricultural practices. McCain Foods says smart and sustainable farming is a key pillar of the company’s commitment to be more environmentally conscious, anchored on its commitment to regenerative agriculture.

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McCain enters the Metaverse: Introducing ‘Regen Fries’, new partnerships to educate consumers on regenerative farming

McCain Foods is entering the Metaverse and introducing new ‘Regen Fries’ as part of the #SaveOurSoil initiative. Regen Fries are made with potatoes that are grown using regenerative farming methods which build soil health, improve biodiversity, and enhance on-farm resilience to climate change. McCain has committed to reimagining ways to grow potatoes that are ‘beneficial for both the planet and the communities in which it operates’.

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Potato sprout management: 1,4SIGHT a ‘safe and sustainable’ alternative to CIPC, says product specialists

For over 25 years, 1,4GROUP Inc. has dedicated itself to providing value-added customer solutions in potato storage quality management, innovative application techniques and shelf-life extension through scientifically based product development. “1,4SIGHT is the only true dormancy enhancer on the market,” says 1,4GROUP’s Global Director of Research, Development and Innovation, Bernd Frings.

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PepsiCo launches new online video series, showcasing regenerative agriculture initiatives

PepsiCo last week announced the continuation of its global agriculture accelerator, the Positive Agriculture Outcomes (PAO) Fund, by granting 14 business projects across 11 countries funding to address some of the most intractable challenges facing agriculture today. Projects from the PAO Fund’s inaugural investment are the focus of PepsiCo’s latest, four-part digital video series, “Growing Our Future.”

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SAC Consulting: How do you know if potato fields have PCN?

Potato cyst nematodes, or PCN, have been moving up the agenda for Scottish growers for some time now, writes Jane Brisbane of SAC Consulting in an article published by The Scottish Farmer. “These pests have become a serious threat to our tattie industry and it’s not just an issue potato growers need to take seriously, but everyone in arable production, especially those who rent out land for potatoes,” she notes.

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Targeted fertiliser application: Stocks AG’s rotor meter saves Jersey Royal Company £300,000

In the last six years, one of the UK’s leading potato growers has saved over £300,000 through an unconventional but highly effective use of Stocks AG’s Rotor Meter. In 2020 Stocks AG developed the i-CON system to control and maintain pre-set application rates and subsequently fitted it to The Jersey Royal Company’s machines. Further reductions in fertiliser use followed.

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British dad with over two million viewers online goes viral, revealing real life on a potato farm

A Yorkshire dad in Britain has gone viral after sharing how he makes crisps on a farm. ‘Yorkshire Farm Lad’ on TikTok has over two million viewers, and over 79,600 followers, is a farmer and contracter from North Yorkshire. The young farmer, who has a baby boy, works on a large farm in Boroughbridge, Harrogate. Social media lovers revel in his traditional job where he spends his days harvesting, fixing tractors, looking after cattle, stacking hay bales and more.

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Irish potato excellence: Potato starch innovation merits awards for Meade Farm in Ireland

The quality and innovation behind its potato starch saw Meade Farm, based in Ireland, recently recognised across four different award programmes. The family agribusiness won a gold medal at the Irish Quality Food Awards 2022; the Best Supply Chain Team of the Year award at the National Procurement Awards; the Circular Economy Leadership Award and the overall Grand Prix Award at the IMR Irish Manufacturing and Supply Chain Awards.

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Royal Avebe’s fertilisation strategy said to help potato growers achieve ‘significantly higher starch yields’

Due to the current scarcity of fertilizers, the ‘red areas’ and the increasing production costs, efficient nitrogen fertilization is becoming increasingly important. Patrick Riek, account manager at Royal Avebe, has full confidence in a nitrogen-reduced fertilization strategy for good cultivation and fertilization advice, as the company notes in a recent news release.

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Smart farming: Researchers brainstorm on potato vine removal

Researchers at the Canada-Manitoba Crop Diversification Centre (CMCDC) are looking for ideas that would lessen the labour of removing green potato vines in the fall, as Alexis Stockford reports for Manitoba Co-operator. The practice is pitched as a control measure against pathogens such as black dot, verticillium wilt, early blight and other diseases that carry over in potato crop residue.

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UK: Why growers need to use sprout suppressant early this season

A combination of the high summer temperatures and growers being unable to apply maleic hydrazide means potatoes coming into stores this season will be under increased sprouting pressure. That’s why British growers are being advised to act early and treat crops with a new sprout suppressant, as Richard Allison reports for Farmers Weekly.

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Crop specialist: ‘IPM strategies vital for virus control in Scottish seed potatoes’

The increasingly unpredictable climate is triggering a new set of challenges to the Scottish potato industry, where milder summers and winters are leading to an increasing risk of virus transmission in seed crops, says Donald Paterson, cereal and potato husbandry specialist at Scottish Agronomy. To tackle this challenge, Paterson says growers need to be looking increasingly to using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies alongside plant protection products to maintain quality seed.

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Protect potato crops from pests and disease for strong early-season stands that deliver

Potato plants encounter many threats in the early season, which is a crucial time for establishing plant health. Growers can reduce early-season risk with a management plan that addresses insects and disease at planting. Diseases like Fusarium dry rot and Rhizoctonia can infect seedlings, causing the death of stolons and stems, weakened roots and stunted plant growth. A broad-spectrum fungicide and a neonicotinoid seed treatment helps control insects like the Colorado potato beetle, aphids, potato psyllid and leafhoppers.

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Hutchinsons root crop specialist advises British potato farmers on managing crops in hot, dry conditions

Unlike most years, 2022 will not be about managing large green haulm to aid skin set and lifting for British potato farmers, but about keeping the crop alive with water or making more challenging strategic decisions, says Hutchinsons root crop technical manager, Darryl Shailes. Mr Shailes believes the best decision for many growers will be to stop the crop even though the yield is only in the low teens per acre.

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Are no-till potatoes a pipe-dream?

Initial trials by Dyson Farming and Groundswell Agronomy in the UK are highlighting how difficult potato production with zero-tillage is likely to be commercially, as Mike Abram reports for Farmers Weekly. But managing potato crops with reduced tillage, not zero tillage, while embracing other principles of regenerative agriculture is showing more promise.

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