Smart Farming

How to control nematodes in potatoes with a trap crop

Planting a potato cyst nematode (PCN) trap crop can naturally reduce nematode numbers by up to 75%. One group of potato farmers have trialled whether they can be successfully established in the UK. Chemical methods that once effectively controlled the pest are dwindling – the latest loss being the mainstay nematicide Vydate – and growers are now looking at alternative biological control techniques.

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Mobile solar pump for irrigation in remote areas

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar have developed a solar power system that can be easily moved between farms to pump water for irrigation. The kit comprises solar panels and an inverter to power a surface-mounted pump.

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UK sensor technology to boost agronomy in India

Improved agronomic decisions could soon be a reality for Indian farmers, following the launch of an international sensor technology project. The collaborative work aims to deliver a cost-effective environmental sensor technology to help enhance crop productivity, reduce waste and increase profitability. The project is overseen by CHAP and Terraprima, alongside Indian organic fertiliser company, Organic Solution.

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‘Precision nutrition is the future’: ICL launches knowledge hub for enhanced efficiency fertilizers

ICL Speciality Fertilizers in the UK recently launched a new knowledge hub online to help growers understand the different types of efficiency fertilisers and benefits. The company says in a news post: “precision nutrition is the future”. Controlled release fertilizers use smart technology and provide nutrition at a rate that matches much more closely the availability of nutrients to the plant’s need.

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Conference to tackle key production issues that potato growers face

The 2022 Ontario Potato Conference will be hosted as a virtual event on Wednesday, March 2. The annual Conference will be presented by the Ontario Potato Board, and hosted by Potatoes in Canada. The day includes five sessions focused on key topics for potato production. Dr Eugenia Banks is the principle organizer. She shared the Conference program.

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HZPC: The importance of healthy soil

HZPC says in a recent news article that the company’s growers know it better than anyone: a healthy soil is crucial for good potato growing. But a healthy soil offers more. It contributes to all the main pillars of HZPC in the field of sustainability. The talk HZPC had with grower Pieter Klaas Westerhuis from Usquert in Groningen, the Netherlands confirms this: “We don’t want to leave any problems behind for the next generation to solve”.

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‘Bud’ the robot fries weeds with lasers instead of chemicals

Like “The Terminator” for weeds, the Carbon Robotics machine, dubbed “Bud,” rolls through farm fields using artificial intelligence to discern weeds from crops and using a high-power laser to kill the weeds. This lets farmers cultivate crops with less herbicide and reduced labor, improving crop yields and saving money.

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USAID and CIP: Using science to revitalize Georgia’s potato sector

In 2019, the USAID Potato Program was launched, an initiative with a straightforward name and a straightforward objective: to give Georgia’s potato farmers the technologies, tools, and training they need to produce high-quality potatoes on a sufficient scale to compete with imports and drive economic growth in their communities. To help farmers overcome key challenges in the sector, USAID brought in the expertise of the International Potato Center (CIP).

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Meade farm ends 2021 on high note at awards

2021 ended on a high for Irish grower, packer and distributor Meade Farm Group. As
Caroline Allen reports for Agriland, the Meade family’s passion for potatoes in all shapes and forms was evident at the recent Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards. They scooped three gold awards for their fresh skinny chips, fresh chunky chips and potato starch in the foodservice category, as well as a silver gong for their white potatoes.

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North Dakota potato operation bets on cutting-edge sorting technology

A fourth-generation potato farming and marketing family in North Dakota is leaping into a new era of electronic potato grading. The Hall family partnership of Hoople in northeast North Dakota put in place a multi-million-dollar optical grading system that uses cameras to evaluate potatoes individually and sort them into lanes. The Halls’ Spectrim can sort up to 1,700 potatoes a minute or around 120,000 per hour.

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The Brazilian conservation farmer who ‘kidnaps’ carbon: ‘This makes me a better farmer’

“As a conservation farmer, the practices we use on our farm are allowing us to ‘kidnap carbon’ from the atmosphere and store it in our soil. This makes me a better farmer. The practice of carbon farming supports my efforts to grow more food and help the environment at the same time,” writes Andre-Figueiredo Dobashi in this article published by Global Farmer Network. The article is titled “I’m a conservation farmer who kidnaps carbon for good”.

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Bayer to launch industry-first digital carbon footprint measurement solution for agriculture

Bayer, Bushel and Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently unveiled Project Carbonview. It is to enable farmers to report, analyze and better assess their end-to-end supply chain carbon footprint. Bayer says that it is a first-of-its-kind technology solution that will help farmers in the United States drive more sustainable supply chains and mitigate the impact agriculture has on the environment by aggregating the carbon footprint of end products.

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Going digital: South African potato farmers set to benefit from mobile data sharing app

The potato industry in South Africa is investing in various technologies to improve its sustainability, and is currently in the process of developing a mobile app to improve communication with members. Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potatoes SA the app will allow farmers to identify problem spots and compare production from different areas on their farms, and over time, [and] also [to] compare production with what has been achieved in previous seasons.

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Practical guide on monitoring soil carbon launched

A new practical guide to assessing soil carbon promises to answer British farmers’ key questions at a time when many are looking to understand their soil health. The guide lists and answers key questions for robust on-farm monitoring of soil carbon and associated indicators of soil health.

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How do three main farm carbon calculators compare?

Mike Abram presents an insightful review of three popular so-called whole-farm carbon calculators in an article for Farmers Weekly in the UK . A few farmers tested the overall scope and structure of the calculators, all of which cover arable and livestock enterprises. The tools assessed were: Farm Carbon Toolkit, Agrecalc, and the Cool Farm Tool.

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Towards Net Zero: How to reduce emissions and store carbon

Farming has been recognised for the key role it can play in helping the UK meet its net zero emissions target by 2050, with individual farmers being encouraged to do their bit. There’s no magic bullet or one-size-fits-all approach, say experts, who highlight that we will need a multitude of different options to both reduce emissions and capture or store carbon in soils and woodlands.

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Metos UK unveils new potato tech

A blue, potato-shaped sensor for in-store monitoring of potato crops and an app that estimates your potential crop yield from a photo and a blue mat have been launched by Metos UK at the recent British Potato event. Inside the blue tuber-shaped SolAntenna are sensors to measure and track temperature, humidity and CO2 levels in store.

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New Omnia ‘Carbon Cost of Production’ tool launched

It’s clearly understood that improved farm productivity is good for business and more recently, for carbon. But the challenge has always been how to measure the cost of producing a particular crop with regards to carbon. Hutchinsons’ new Omnia Carbon cost of production tool has been designed to tackle just this,

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Why arable farmers in Britain could soon earn from habitat credits

Farmers in Britain could soon earn money creating new habitats on their farms, as developers look to offset the loss of biodiversity resulting from development such as house building and infrastructure projects. This year saw the launch of carbon trading by companies which has seen interest from regenerative farmers. And next year will see some growers start to earn money by improving biodiversity.

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Soil health and regenerative techniques at the forefront at CropTec event

Soil health and regenerative techniques will be to the fore during this year’s CropTec seminars, writes Ken Fletcher in an article for The Scottish Farmer. With growers in the midst of a tumultuous time in British farming, this year’s programme will examine the building blocks for a sustainable arable farming future.

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High-tech potato grading line ups profits for Cornish grower

As Adam Clarke reports in this Farmers Weekly article, potato producers are facing tricky times, with ballooning costs squeezing profits and seasonal staff increasingly difficult to source since the UK left the EU. To make itself more resilient to these issues Cornish producer EW Button & Son recently invested in a state-of-the-art potato-grading line with an optical sorter.

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Carbon farming and the regenerative revolution in food

As Alasdair Lane writes in this article for BBC Future, farmlands cover half of the Earth’s habitable land, and the global food system produces 21-37% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. When fields are worked with heavy machinery, their soils leach trapped carbon back into the air. Carbon farming, on the other hand, seeks to capture them.

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All vines and no taters? A potato grower’s frustration

It takes leaves to make a potato crop, and maximum yields are achieved when potato plants cover the ground as rapidly as possible. This ensures plants capture the greatest amount of solar energy, writes Carrie Huffman Wohleb in this Growing Produce article. But you must strike the right balance between leaf and tuber growth, she says.

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