Smart Farming

How to make irrigation water as effective as rainwater: This new technology might be the answer

Rainmaker.Earth, a South African-based technology company, is revolutionizing agricultural irrigation by mimicking natural rainfall, improving water and soil quality. Their advanced oxidation process enhances water absorption, reduces runoff, and boosts soil health, benefiting high-demand crops like potatoes. This sustainable approach supports biodiversity, reduces chemical use, and promotes efficient water use. Rainmaker.Earth is expanding globally, offering farmers a sustainable, effective irrigation solution that enhances crop yield and quality.

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The fascinating intelligence of potato plants: Insights researchers are confirming, but farmers already know

The concept of plant intelligence is revolutionizing agriculture, highlighting potatoes’ ability to perceive and respond to environmental stimuli through complex biochemical processes. This intelligence allows potatoes to adapt, communicate, and solve problems, such as optimizing root systems and photosynthesis. Recognizing these abilities can advance farming techniques, making them more sustainable and productive. Recent studies underscore how potatoes utilize these capabilities for nutrient uptake, pathogen resistance, and overall survival, offering strategies for precision agriculture and sustainable farming practices.

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Fight Against Blight: James Hutton Institute secures funding to continue vital late blight monitoring and testing

The James Hutton Institute secures additional funding to continue its role in the Fight Against Blight (FAB) scheme, protecting Britain’s potato crops against late blight. Initiated in 2006, the scheme involves a network of FAB Scouts monitoring Phytophthora infestans across the UK. This project, vital for early detection and management of new resistant strains of blight, is supported by a consortium of industry leaders. Despite challenges like resistance and regulatory pressures, the collaborative effort aims for effective blight control and sustainable farming practices.

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Potato emergence problems: A practical and detailed guide for growers

Potato growers struggling with poor plant emergence can benefit from a comprehensive guide created by esteemed North American specialists. This guide lists common issues, including bacterial/fungal diseases like soft rot and late blight, and physiological problems such as chilling injuries. It emphasizes the importance of using certified seeds, managing soil conditions, and handling seeds properly. Detailed descriptions, visual aids, and explanations are provided to aid in rapid problem identification and crop management improvement.

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When the bots come marching in: AgBot makes debut to Scottish growers

Scotland’s first autonomous tractor, AgBot, was introduced by SoilEssentials, a provider of precision farming solutions. Designed by AgXeed BV in The Netherlands, AgBot offers configurations including tracked and wheeled models. It aims to enhance agricultural efficiency by reducing manual labor and increasing yields, promising a robust future for farming. Further UK demonstrations are anticipated.

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Top five tips to keeping your harvester digging this fall

When autumn arrives, North American farmers prepare for the critical potato harvest, heavily reliant on the performance of their potato harvesters. This guide emphasizes the importance of maintaining these machines to prevent harvest disruptions. It covers preparation, daily maintenance, handling tough conditions, post-harvest care, and proper storage to ensure reliability and efficiency of harvesters. Authored by Darren Demers of Lockwood, the advice draws from extensive field experience, aiming to optimize harvester operations and extend their service life.

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A reduced fertilizer future? AAFC’s latest Plowdown Challenge explores manure’s potential in potato farming

When Scott Anderson and Roger Henry from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) launched the AAFC Plowdown Challenge last year, they aimed to engage farmers in guessing the yield of the Mountain Gem potato variety grown without fertilizer, using manure instead. After a successful year, they introduced a new twist with manure to potentially enhance soil benefits this year. The challenge demonstrates alternative sustainable farming by utilizing residual soil nutrients.

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Syngenta unifies agronomy tools: Introducing myField app for streamlined potato crop management

Syngenta has integrated BlightCast and Quantis Heat Stress Alert into a single myField app, enhancing decision support for potato growers. This digital tool provides advanced warnings on disease and heat stress on a field-by-field basis, combining personalized weather and agronomy data. The app, replacing older web-based systems, offers detailed forecasts, visual risk indicators, and alert emails to optimize blight strategies and heat stress management.

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Tayler Farms: A legacy of dedication and quality in New Zealand’s potato industry

Nick Tayler continues the legacy of his family’s potato farm in New Zealand, as showcased in Copper Kettle Chips’ “Meet our Farmers” series. Starting in the 1960s, the farm’s partnership with Copper Kettle is grounded in a commitment to quality and integrity. Nick and his family, including staff seen as family, face challenges like weather and pests, but find profound satisfaction in their high-quality produce. Nick’s deep connection to his produce extends beyond farming, celebrating the enjoyment of his potatoes at social gatherings.

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‘From hand-pulling to high tech’: The balancing act of sustainable weed management in modern farming

Jon Entine’s article published by the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) discusses the evolution of weed management in agriculture, from primitive methods to modern biotechnological advances. While chemical herbicides and GM crops have increased yields and efficiency, concerns about environmental and health impacts persist. Organic advocates promote more sustainable practices like crop rotation and biological controls. Entine stresses the need for an evidence-based, integrated approach combining traditional and innovative methods to ensure agriculture’s sustainability and safety.

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New DJI agricultural drones launch globally with upgraded SmartFarm app

DJI has launched two new drones, the Agras T50 and T25, enhancing its Agras line for both large and small-scale agriculture. The T50 features advanced capabilities like a dual-rotor design and fast charging, ideal for large fields, while the portable T25 suits smaller farms. Both integrate with the SmartFarm app for efficient farm management. These drones aim to boost yield, decrease chemical use, and reduce environmental impact, supporting DJI’s commitment to data safety and precision agriculture.

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New study reveals the complex drivers and barriers affecting best management practices among potato producers

A comprehensive study from the University of Guelph and SunRISE Potato reveals motivators and barriers in adopting best management practices (BMPs) among Ontario’s potato producers. Enhanced by a System Thinking approach, the research indicates that personal values largely drive adoption, yet structural challenges like market access and stringent regulations hinder it. Insights from this study can inform targeted strategies to improve BMP adoption and enhance sustainable agriculture.

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Cutting-edge strategies in potato pest and disease defense: Insights from the 2024 Miller Research Potato Pest Management Meeting

The 2024 Miller Research Potato Pest Management Meeting offered crucial insights into combating pest and disease challenges in potato cultivation. With presentations on bacterial pathogens, innovative fungicidal treatments, diagnostic tools for disease identification, and the potential of chemigation, the meeting emphasized new strategies to enhance sustainability and productivity in the industry. Dr. Jeff Millar’s sessions highlighted emerging research and practical applications that could transform pest and disease management, ensuring the continuous improvement of the sector.

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‘Beyond the plow’: Exploring reduced tillage strategies and techniques in modern potato farming

Reduced tillage practices are increasingly being implemented by potato growers for environmental and crop productivity benefits. Lukie Pieterse’s article delves into these methods, emphasizing their role in sustainable agriculture by enhancing soil health, decreasing erosion, and improving biodiversity. Covering strip tillage, zone tillage, and no-till, the article discusses the methods’ ability to maintain soil structure, increase carbon sequestration, and facilitate resilience to climate variability.

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Soil health reimagined: Key practices for a thriving agricultural future

Helen Holman of Emerald Research emphasizes the importance of soil health, which requires soils to thrive, not just survive, for sustainable agriculture. She outlines five key indicators of healthy soil: structure, chemistry, organic matter, and water management. To improve soil health, Holman suggests increasing organic matter, promoting microbial activity, and understanding soil chemistry. Regular soil testing is advised for optimized crop nutrition and overall farm management success. Holman stresses soil health as crucial asset management in agriculture.

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The subtle science of potassium application: Enhancing potato quality without compromising yield

Sarah Light and her team studied how potassium chloride application timing affects potatoes, finding that fall applications don’t increase plant chloride and may reduce chloride accumulation since it leaches below the root zone. Their research indicates no significant impact on nitrogen levels, yield, or tuber specific gravity, regardless of fertilizer timing. The study, funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, contributes to optimizing fertilizer use in agriculture.

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Unveiling the layers of regenerative agriculture: Promises and challenges

Regenerative agriculture, focusing on soil health and reduced synthetic input reliance through diverse cover crops, is gaining attention. Andrew McGuire of CSANR critically analyzes its principles and claims in his article, distinguishing it from sustainable agriculture. Its promise and practicality are debated, with success stories tempered by research on widespread implementability. McGuire is inspired by Gabe Brown, a prominent figure in the movement.

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Breaking ground in biofumigation: A new mustard hybrid offers natural disease control hope to potato growers

The potato industry in Canada could majorly benefit from AAC Guard, a new mustard hybrid acting as an effective biofumigant against verticillium wilt and nematodes. As chemical pesticides face deregistration, this natural solution, born of conventional breeding by Mustard 21 Canada and partners, offers an alternative. Its high glucosinolate levels are key in suppressing various pathogens. Though limited in 2024, increased seed availability is anticipated for 2025, promising a sustainable disease management strategy.

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What are the benefits of foliar nitrogen application in potato production?

Foliar nitrogen application enables farmers to increase nutrient use efficiency often to 90%, cut nitrogen use by 8-35%, and reduce environmental losses. This method, requiring less nitrogen, achieves immediate nutrient uptake through leaves, particularly under adverse soil conditions. Helen Holman of Emerald Research suggests this can lead to improved yield quality and quantity without additional tractor passes, contributing to agricultural sustainability.

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Why industry-wide effort is needed to tackle potato virus threat in the UK

Europe’s seed potato crops are increasingly affected by viruses, necessitating immediate adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies. Data from Scotland shows a worrying trend in crop downgrades due to viruses, with a rise to 15.4% downgraded and 1.8% failed crops. Milder winters and hotter summers expedite pest survival and breeding, exacerbating the issue. Experts underscore the need for prevention and management, while maintaining the high health of Scottish potato seeds.

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Soil health and potato yield: Cultivating a sustainable future from the ground up

Lukie Pieterse highlights the critical role of soil health in sustainable potato cultivation. Beyond its nutritional value, the versatile potato thrives with nutrient-rich, structured, and disease-suppressing soil, which also aids in water management and carbon sequestration. Incorporating practices like cover cropping, crop rotation, reduced tillage, organic amendments, integrated pest management, and precision agriculture ensures robust yields. These methods, combined with traditional wisdom and modern technology, promise a productive and sustainable future for global agriculture.

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HyFun Foods appoints industry veteran to spearhead sustainable fresh produce initiative, HyFarm

HyFun Foods appoints Soundararadjane S as CEO of HyFarm, an initiative focusing on sustainable agriculture and empowering Indian farmers. Soundararadjane’s 30 years of experience and strategic vision for scaling sustainable practices aim to revamp the fresh produce sector. HyFarm will innovate the supply chain, use regenerative agriculture, and expand to 30,000 farmers by 2030. Leveraging partnerships and connecting with global markets, HyFun Foods also plans to diversify beyond potatoes into other vegetable exports.

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From field to storage: GB Potatoes leads the way in refining potato storage practices with innovative project

GB Potatoes, with Potato Storage Insight and SDF Agriculture, is leading the Strategic SPot storage project to improve potato storage methods for better cost efficiency and product quality. Their approach includes hands-on research and demonstrations. An important event on May 14th at Winters Lane Storage Ltd. will offer expert advice and insights on storage optimizations, cold storage strategies, design improvements, and variety performance. Attendees can also enjoy a showcase of partners and visit a processing store.

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Navigating blight challenges: Insights from Europe to guide UK potato crop protection

In 2023, European potato blight conditions urged UK farmers to seek solutions from their continental peers. The Netherlands suffered a severe outbreak due to fungicide-resistant strains and wet weather, while Denmark’s stringent fungicide use policy proved effective, drastically reducing resistant strain blight. Experts now advise UK farmers to follow Danish practices and FRAC’s updated guidelines to prevent resistance and preserve fungicide efficacy for proactive disease management.

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Maximize potato yields with Riegogel water-retaining

Riegogel introduces a biodegradable gel that retains water for up to 45 days, boosting potato crop yields by up to 20% and reducing irrigation needs by 50%. It combats drought, enhances soil health, and efficiently utilizes water and nutrients. Proven effective in trials, it offers a sustainable solution for various crops, aligning with climate resilience efforts.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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