Smart Farming

How Canada’s Prince Edward Island potato farmers combat soil erosion and disease threats

In Prince Edward Island, known for some as the “potato capital of the world”, farmers grapple with soil erosion due to harsh climate conditions, risking agricultural productivity. Techniques like minimal tilling and cover cropping are being adopted. Similarly, the EU faces a €1.25 billion productivity loss from erosion, prompting policy for land management to qualify for aid. Globally, sustainable agriculture is key to combatting climate-related degradation for food security.

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Andean farmers use age-old technique amid climate change to protect potato and quinoa crops

In the Andean plateaus of Puno, Peru and Bolivia, ancient Waru Waru agricultural techniques, dating back 2,000 years, are being revived to combat climate change. These rectangular, raised planting beds, surrounded by water to create microclimates, protect crops like potatoes and quinoa from drought and frost. In 2023, during a severe drought, they enabled farmers to sustain food production and maintain their rural livelihoods.

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Harvesting progress: The Potato Sustainability Alliance’s vision for 2024 and beyond

John Mesko of the Potato Sustainability Alliance details efforts to boost potato farming sustainability in 2024 through smart technology and conservation. Emphasizing collaboration and efficient resource use, the focus includes wisely managing water and nutrients, selecting resilient potato varieties, and innovating in storage to cut emissions. Mesko advocates for holistic evaluation of farming practices, including crop rotations, to improve soil and water conservation, driving sustainable industry advances.

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Regenerative agriculture and beyond: McCain Foods’ journey to sustainable farming outlined in latest Global Sustainability Report

McCain Foods has announced considerable advancement toward its sustainability goals, with 51% of its global potato acreage now within its Regenerative Agriculture Framework. Its 2023 Global Sustainability Report highlights innovations and efficiencies in farming practices, renewable energy use, and water conservation. McCain is working closely with 3,500 farmers globally, furthering sustainable practices through education and financial support.

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HarvestEye’s groundbreaking insights tool with expanded crop compatibility to be unveiled at Fruit Logistica 2024

HarvestEye will exhibit its crop insights tool at Fruit Logistica, offering the fresh produce sector a method to assess crops’ size and variety via its updated system compatible with onions and potatoes. The technology includes a new handheld device for pre-harvest analysis. Growers can lease or rent units, gaining actionable AI insights to enhance supply chain efficiency and reduce waste.

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Sowing sustainability: Masser Family of Companies unveils first People, Process, and Planet report

The Masser Family of Companies in Sacramento, PA, has released their annual People, Process, and Planet Report outlining their sustainability efforts. By setting measurable benchmarks, the company ensures progress toward their environmental goals. Their sustainable practices span from agriculture to technology, including water conservation, renewable energy usage, land management, and reduced carbon emissions.

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Innovative research by MSU unveils soil health insights through historical crop yield analysis

Michigan State University research, led by soil scientist Bruno Basso, demonstrates that analyzing historical crop yields can inform about soil health and carbon sequestration. Published in Scientific Reports, the study reveals that yield stability zones—areas of consistent yields—correlate with soil organic carbon and health. This method reduces the need for costly soil sampling by providing precise farming recommendations that enhance yield and minimize environmental harm.

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Diverse cover crops a key strategy in British grower’s regenerative approach

In a recent discussion at Groundswell, agronomist Ed Brown, head of agroecology at Hutchinson’s in the UK, and East Shropshire grower John Bubb showcased the potential of growing potatoes regeneratively, focusing on good soil analysis and careful management. On Bubb’s 2,000-acre farm, they integrate soil health with crop diversity to maintain yields and cut inputs. Techniques include diverse cover crops, reduced tillage, with pest control also a focus.

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‘From soils to satellites’: Harnessing EOSDA Crop Monitoring for sustainable potato cultivation in the U.S.

Potato cultivation, integral to global agriculture, has evolved significantly in the U.S. with modern technologies. Satellite imagery, drones, IoT sensors, and AI analytics provide real-time insights into crop health and environmental conditions, revolutionizing farming practices. This shift towards precision agriculture enhances efficiency, sustainability, and productivity. EOSDA Crop Monitoring, a digital platform, plays a pivotal role by offering detailed analyses for optimal potato growth, marking a new era in agricultural productivity and environmental stewardship.

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The soil-plant connection: A comprehensive guide to soil health and plant vitality

Joel Williams, a plant and soil health educator in the UK, presented “Soils and Nutrition” delving into the complex relationship between soil health and plant nutrition. He emphasized the critical role of soil in supporting healthy plants, discussed global soil degradation, and advocated for a holistic approach to soil management. Williams explained the role of plants in soil health and outlined practical strategies for improvement.

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An organic evolution: Kroeker Farms’ journey to sustainable potato farming

Kroeker Farms, based in Manitoba, Canada, prioritizes sustainable potato production. While mainly conventional, they are a leading organic potato producer in North America. Their sustainable practices include crop rotation, soil health maintenance, and responsible water management. Chief Operating Officer Harwin Bouwman emphasizes the farm’s long-term impact considerations, guiding their strategic investments in organic production and sustainable water management, positioning them at the forefront of environmentally conscious potato farming.

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The future of farming: Insights from the World Potato Congress webinar on combatting food loss

In a recent webinar hosted by the World Potato Congress, Luciana Delgado analyzed losses in the potato value chain, emphasizing their impact on food security, economic growth, and environmental sustainability. Delgado presented the “Food Losses App,” a tool to assess and address food losses for farmers, aligning with Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. She emphasized the unequal impacts of food loss, the need for precise measurement, targeted interventions, and creating a business case for reducing losses at the producer level.

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Agricultural innovators: Pioneering project calls for British farmers to help train robots in slug control

A groundbreaking trial in the UK will equip farmers with special rigs to train robots to detect and treat slugs in arable crops. The project, part of SLIMERS, aims to develop sustainable slug control strategies using advanced technology and biological agents. Farmers can participate in a webinar on January 10 and receive payment for their involvement. The initiative seeks to enlist farmers with a strong understanding of pest control and a willingness to embrace new technologies.

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A new era in precision agriculture: How the Picketa LENS tool is changing the game for crop nutrient management

In 2023, Picketa Systems introduced the Leaf-Evaluated-Nutrient-System (LENS) to offer real-time plant nutrient analysis, enabling adaptive input management. The LENS, an alternative to time-consuming lab protocols, provides accurate nutrient uptake data, helping manage fertilizer costs and adapting to fluctuating crop conditions. Used by agronomists and growers for instant agronomic feedback, it has aided in operational cost savings, improved decision-making, and enhanced crop quality. Plans to expand LENS to support additional crops like corn are underway.

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Sustainable spuds: Making regenerative ag work in potato production

Brendon Rockey, a Colorado potato farmer, is implementing regenerative agriculture to address soil degradation and water scarcity. His farm uses diverse crop rotations, cover crops, and integrates livestock grazing, enhancing soil health and reducing water usage. This approach also involves novel pest management strategies. Manitoba potato farmers are exploring similar paths, The shift towards sustainable practices is influenced by industry demands, with companies like McCain Foods and PepsiCo mandating regenerative methods from their suppliers by 2030.

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Innovative farming breakthrough: Canadian potato farmers achieve remarkable yields in no-fertilizer experiment

Researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada conducted the #AAFCPlowdownChallenge to examine how well potatoes would grow using only nitrogen leftover from previous crops and cover crops, without fertilizers. “This yield result is very good, in our opinion. It shows the ability of the soil to provide nutrients from a previous crop, like red clover, to help grow potatoes,” says Scott Anderson, AAFC science coordinator. They believe the experiment demonstrates the value of efficient fertilizer use and the benefits of considering leftover soil nutrients for sustainable farming.

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‘Growing goodness’: Particularly Good Potatoes aims for carbon neutrality milestone

“Particularly Good Potatoes”, a brand launched in 2019, has grown into a popular supplier of chips and potato products across North East Britain. The company, with a 99-year history in farming, is now moving towards carbon neutrality and sustainable agriculture. They have introduced a range of strategies to lower their carbon emissions, including soil conservation, planting cover crops, and planning additional hedgerows. Furthermore, the company is reusing water in its processes and reducing reliance on imported potatoes.

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‘Water wisdom’: How Agrico irrigation systems transform potato farming in South Africa’s Western Cape

The article “Rooted in success: Agrico offers potato irrigation solutions,” spotlights a collaboration between South African potato farm Stephan & Seun and Agrico, an irrigation solutions provider. The partnership, which began in the 1970s, uses Agrico’s advanced technology for efficient water management in potato farming, leading to cost savings and power efficiency. The system’s adaptivity to varying pressure requirements ensures optimal operation even with a change in topography.

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Enroll now: PSI Store Managers’ Course 2024 open for bookings

Potato Storage Insight (PSI) has opened bookings for its 2024 Potato Store Managers’ Course, which will include the opportunity to attain the BASIS (Stored Potatoes) qualification for the first time. The course, led by Adrian Cunnington, will happen on 28th-29th February 2024 at The Crown in Yorkshire. The two-day program combines practical training sessions and networking opportunities, covering critical topics like risk management, disease threats, and ventilation.

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‘DIGging deep’: Scottish tech firm harvests success at Potato Industry Awards with innovative management platform

Dundee’s Tayfusion wins the ‘Best Innovation – 22/23’ award at the British Potato Industry Awards for its DIG software management platform for potato farming. DIG Potatoes streamlines potato production from growth to sales, offering comprehensive data management. The software, developed with industry collaboration, includes features for stock control, quality control, and forecasting. Founder Mark Mander invites users to explore and demo the platform, showcasing its impact on the potato industry’s efficiency and sustainability.

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AI transforms Canadian potato farming: A leap towards smart agriculture

Canadian potato growers are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor and predict their crops’ nutritional needs in real time. The new technology involves using a portable optical sensor to quickly assess potato field nutrient values. The technology utilises machine learning algorithms trained on historical data, thereby providing near real-time evaluations of plant nutritional requirements. This method improves fertilizer application efficiency, optimising yield and quality while maintaining environmental balance.

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Soil Health Institute and McCain Foods webinar: ‘Making Cover Crops Pay in Potatoes’

The Soil Health Institute and McCain Foods hosted a panel discussion on the integration of cover crops into potato farming systems. Panelists, who represented diverse geographies, outlined four principles: know your goal, don’t seek perfection, view it as an investment, and consult experts. Beyond soil coverage, cover crops can enhance soil health, attract beneficial insects and even provide livestock feed.

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Crop rotation increases good bacteria to promote plant health

Due to the world’s population reaching 8 billion, there is a high demand for food security. The potato could be key in meeting this need. However, its production is declining and methods to increase yield are environmentally damaging. This article by By Prof Lucy Moleleki at the University of Pretoria in South Africa highlights the advantages of crop rotation as an effective, eco-friendly way to control pathogens and optimize yields.

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BP2023: Evolution Separator and Trinity haulm toppers take center stage amidst challenging weather conditions

Scotts Precision Engineering is set to exhibit at BP2023, showcasing their Evolution Separator and Trinity haulm toppers, addressing challenges in UK agriculture due to bad weather. The Evolution Separator offers enhanced crop cleaning, while the Trinity range ensures efficient haulm topping. Derek Scott, the Managing Director, will present on pre-cleaning harvested potatoes, highlighting the company’s commitment to advancing agricultural technology and supporting farmers in these challenging times.

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British potato industry encouraged to sign up to the first SPot Stores project

GB Potatoes, Potato Storage Insight, and SDF Agriculture have initiated the Strategic Potato Stores project to improve potato storage practices. The project, inspired by the SPot Farms model, encourages industry collaboration and practical research. It includes trials with various potato varieties and sprout suppressants, focusing on efficiency and profitability. Key activities include grower meetings, open days, and workshops in 2024, alongside evaluations of PCN-resistant varieties. This initiative emphasizes practical solutions and shared industry knowledge.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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