Smart Farming

On the 8th day: ‘God made a farmer’

Dear Readers, most of us – whoever we are, and wherever we are located in the world – no doubt live in tumultuous and unprecedented times in the current day and age. Some more so than others, for sure. But still – so do thousands upon thousands of farmers around the world… As an ex-farmer myself, I have so much empathy with them, dear readers? A decades-old speech from a conservative radio broadcaster in the U.S., Paul Harvey (who passed away in 2009) became a major topic of chatter when it was delivered in America in 1978. Here then is the text and a video of his speech, titled ‘So, God made a farmer’ – upon popular request.

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Potato specialist: ‘Keep an eye out for signs of heat stress in your potato crops’

Potatoes can suffer from heat stress when temperatures rise. Heat stress severity depends on 1) how hot it gets, 2) the rate of temperature increase, 3) duration of extreme temperatures, and 4) water status of the crop and soil. Temperatures, at least 10°F above normal, that spike suddenly and last a long time under drought conditions, are the worst-case scenario, writes Associate Professor/Regional Specialist at Washington State University, Carrie Huffman Wohleb, in this article.

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Supporting regenerative practices: McDonald’s Canada and McCain Foods partner to launch ‘Future of Potato Farming Fund’

Today, McDonald’s Canada and McCain Foods Limited announce a new partnership to create the ‘Future of Potato Farming Fund’ by investing $1M in education, demonstration, and cost-sharing grants to support potato farmer adoption of regenerative practices and technology. The new Fund’s goals are building soil health and farm resilience as Canadian potato farmers face the escalating impacts of climate change on yield and crop quality.

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Offsetting produces UK’s first carbon-neutral potatoes

Morgan Scale is growing carbon-neutral potatoes in west Wales by using his cover crops and crop rotation to offset greenhouse gas emissions from his spuds and so produce for the UK’s first zero-carbon potato brand. His potatoes and those from five other Pembrokeshire growers are now available under the Root Zero brand throughout the UK.

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How can we improve soil health in potato cropping systems?

Minimizing soil disturbance is one of the key tenets promoted to build soil health in agricultural systems. Many farmers across the country have adopted reduced and no-till systems to build soil carbon, a central component to healthy soils. The Soil Science Society of America’s (SSSA) August 1st Soils Matter blog explores options to improve soil health for crops that grow underground – like potatoes.

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The ‘potato vine crusher’: New take on an old invention could help potato farmers crush the weed competition

Scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) tested the effectiveness of previously designed equipment, the ‘potato vine crusher’, on reducing common lambs quarter, redroot pigweed, barnyard grass, yellow foxtail and volunteer canola weeds that are found in potato crops. The results of the potato vine crusher’s ability to reduce weed pressure was impressive for Dr. McKenzie-Gopsill and his team at AAFC.

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PotatoEurope 2022: Direct farm sales, digitization in cultivation and soil erosion prevention in focus during event

On 7 and 8 September 2022, PotatoEurope, the outdoor exhibition for potato cultivation and machinery, will take place at the Rittergut Bockerode estate in Springe-Mittelrode near Hanover, Germany. The trade fair will see more than 180 exhibitors from across the entire potato chain. Special features will include a focus on direct farm sales, digitization in cultivation, and soil erosion prevention.

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PotatoEurope 2022: Technical programme to focus on special feature – ‘On-Farm Processing and Marketing’

The special feature ‘On-Farm Processing and Marketing’ – part of this year’s attractive technical programme at PotatoEurope 2022 in Germany – will be covering essential know-how for selling produce directly from the farm: storage, cleaning, packaging, further processing and marketing. Innovative ideas for selling and marketing the farm’s own potatoes will be presented along with tips on branding and advertising.

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Supplemental calcium application to mitigate heat stress: The importance of root zone calcium levels

Dr Jiwan Palta, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, is a recognized world expert on calcium nutrition. Jiwan has made important contributions to clarify the role of calcium in potato production. Over the years, he has given 4 outstanding presentations at the Ontario Potato Conference. In this article, Dr Eugenia Banks at the Ontario Potato Board makes a short summary of some of these.

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Canadian research: Using hyperspectral imaging technology to test potato quality more quickly, efficiently

Currently, the traditional way to find out whether or not a potato is good to go to market is basic and old-fashioned – cut it open and look to see if there are defects. A new research project at Lethbridge College aims to use cutting-edge near-infrared (NIR) hyperspectral imaging technology to test potato quality such as internal defects, greening and specific gravity more quickly and efficiently.

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New ‘3D ninety’ nozzles give better all-round blight protection

British potato growers should switch to new Syngenta 3D ninety nozzles to ensure more timely blight applications this season – and achieve the best possible results, advocates the company’s application specialist, Harry Fordham. The 90% drift reduction nozzles create the optimum droplet spectrum for coverage throughout the crop canopy, including lower leaves and stems where micro-climate conditions can be particularly humid and conducive to blight infection.

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University of Idaho researchers aiding in development of solar-powered weeding robot

A pair of researchers from University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences are partnering with a Washington company to develop a solar-powered robot that will rove autonomously through farm fields and eradicate weeds. The company behind the project, Aigen, based in Kirkland, Washington, hopes to have a prototype of the robot finished by late this summer. The robot will have wheels and will be roughly the size of a shopping cart, rolling between rows in farm fields before crop canopies close.

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Do cows like potatoes? Inflation is causing one Canadian farmer to find out

As Maria Iqbal reports for the Toronto Star, Lieven Verschaeve is serving up something new on his 500-acre farm in Blyth in Canada’s Ontario province. The dairy farmer and his son, Ward, used to feed their Holstein cows dry corn grown on their farm. But seeing rising prices, Lieven began feeding his cows potatoes. Spuds have the same amount of starch, a feed consultant told them, and could save the family big time.

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McCain announces new ‘Farm of the Future’ in South Africa at critical moment for the global food system

McCain Foods Limited has unveiled plans for a second ‘Farms of the Future’ in South Africa, as part of its drive to cut carbon emissions and tackle the impacts of climate change. At Farm of the Future Africa, the potential to grow multiple crops per year, innovate with irrigation technology in a water-scarce region as well as the challenges arising from the presence of soil-borne pests and diseases make it the ideal location for transferring learning to other parts of the world

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Potato emergence problems: Checklist of common factors that reduce seed emergence

At times, potato growers may experience poor emergence of potato plants. There are number of reasons why potato plants may not emerge properly. Potato specialists Andy Robinson, Eugenia Banks and Steven B. Johnson have compiled a list of common problems that can cause poor potato emergence and stand. Utilizing this list can help growers more rapidly identify the cause and improve management of the crop and subsequent crops.

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Greentronics’ crop yield monitoring product now comes with new features

Greentronics is excited to announce that integration of its RightYield product with John Deere series GS3 and now also GS4 is available. “Greentronics yield monitors are designed for root crop and vegetable harvesters,” says Bill Menkveld of Greentronics Ltd. Growers use yield maps in combination with soil and fertility maps to study and manage variability in their fields and generate report cards on their progress. By applying break-even points, yield maps can indicate areas with profit and loss.

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Canada: Lethbridge College potato research project focused on grower practices, sustainability

Traditionally, potato producers in Canada use the late fall to prep their potato beds for the following spring. The long-established process has its benefits, but also creates concerns, including loss of soil fertility. A new research project at Lethbridge College will work to determine what steps can be taken to ensure the best result for producers, while also moving towards environmentally sustainable agriculture practices.

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How to stop Colorado potato beetles from sacking your spuds

Colorado potato beetle (CPB) populations have an amazing ability to develop resistance to insecticides — including many of the carbamate, organophosphate, pyrethroid, spinosyn, and neonicotinoid insecticides that are used today, writes Carrie Huffman Wohleb in this article. In essence, she says, these beetles are pre-equipped to deal with toxins. It may take only small changes to confer resistance to new toxins.

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Eco-friendly row forming and weed control made easy with AVR’s Combi machine

Shaping beds and preventing weed growth mechanically has never been easier than with AVR’s Combi machine, the company says in a news article. The AVR Combi machine effortlessly combines three functions in one frame: ecoridger, speedridger and weeder. By simply switching components, the machine operator can choose which function to employ.

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Viewpoint: ‘The reinvention of agriculture’

International economist Steven Cerier writes in this article, published by Genetic Literacy Project, that agriculture must become more productive to feed a growing world population. This can only be accomplished by the further application of science and technology, “and not as some suggest by going backwards in time to a much simpler and idealized form of farming that shuns the use of biotechnology and technological advances such as artificial intelligence (AI), drones, robots and microchips…”

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HarvestEye to showcase innovative technology tool at World Potato Congress event

HarvestEye – a machine-learning driven crop insights tool – is heading to the World Potato Congress at the end of May, as it continues to showcase on the global agricultural stage the actionable insights it places in the hands of growers. It comprises of a patented technology that provides timely insights on root crops as they are lifted – presenting growers with valuable information on the size and count over a whole field.

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Regenerative Agriculture: How to start reducing crop inputs

Cutting inputs and costs is a common goal for growers making the first steps into regenerative farming. Base phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) applications are usually among the first to fall, but the current economic climate and recent price hike means that there is also huge interest in bringing nitrogen (N) rates down. Farmers Weekly spoke to two growers in the UK who are reducing their use of inputs.

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