Sustainability

Pandemic relief: NPC welcomes USDA’s expanded Coronavirus Financial Assistance Program

On Friday, the National Potato Council welcomed an announcement by President Trump and USDA Secretary Perdue on Sept. 17 that USDA will implement an expansion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) will provide an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs due to the government-imposed food service disruptions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Signup for CFAP 2 will begin Sept. 21 and run through Dec. 11, 2020.

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Innovative Farmers programme: Deceiving potato cyst nematodes with trap crops

Through the Innovative Farmers programme, four farmers located in Shropshire and Lancashire in the UK are looking at an alternative control method that uses plants known as trap crops that naturally ward off potato cyst nematodes (PCN). Trap crops are better described as ‘deceiving’ rather than ‘trapping’ plants. The chemicals released from the trap crop roots signal the presence of suitable food and trigger the nematodes to emerge from their safe hiding place in the cyst. The nematodes begin feeding on the trap plant roots instead of the potatoes, ahead of potato cropping.

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Washington State potato losses top $1 billion, according to study

Total losses from the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the Washington State’s potato industry is estimated to top $1 billion, according to a study by Washington State University. Farmers have lost about $29.2 million from the drop in demand and quality of the 2019 harvest, according to the release. Acreage for the 2020 fall harvest dropped 13%, which represents a drop of more than 729,000 tons of potatoes, according to the commission.

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Wageningen UR offers PhD project for potato sustainability research

Wageningen UR in the Netherlands is now offering a PhD research opportunity – in principle a 4-year PhD position – for the study of potato sustainability. This project is said to be about understanding the effects of extreme weather events on potato development and on the yield and quality of the tubers. These effects can be viewed in relation to soil quality management and its implications for crop climate resistance and nutrient-use efficiency.

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EU ‘ADAPT’ Project: Searching for stress-resistant potatoes

The ADAPT project aims at identifying new breeding targets and matching potato varieties to specific challenging environmental growth conditions of the future, according to a press release issued by the University of Vienna. The ADAPT consortium has successfully launched the project “Accelerated Development of multiple-stress tolerAnt PoTato”, which aims at developing new strategies to make potatoes fit for the challenging growth conditions of the future. It will take place over the next four years with a total budget of 5 million Euro from the EU Horizon 2020 program.

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Drought hitting Canada’s Maritime farms hard, especially Prince Edward Island potato growers

Maritime farmers are starting to call this summer’s lack of rain “disastrous”. Famous for its potatoes, Prince Edward Island produces over a million kilograms of spuds every year, but this year is different. Over the last three months, some areas of P.E.I. have only received 15 per cent of its usual rainfall. Estimates suggest the harvest will be down 25 per cent — at a minimum. “Put that in perspective,” said Greg Donald, the general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board. “For all the potato farmers in P.E.I., that would be more than a $50 million dollar loss.” But there’s not much they can do to save their season.

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NFU: ‘Food security must be key part of Britain’s green recovery from Covid-19’

A green recovery from Covid-19 is a ‘golden opportunity’ for British farming to become a global leader in delivering food security and set the benchmark for sustainable food production around the world, the NFU said today. NFU President Minette Batters said: “Our self-sufficiency in vegetables and potatoes is falling and it’s low in fruit. We can and should drive a horticulture revolution. At a time when we should all be eating more fruit and veg, we should be looking to our farmers to deliver more quality, affordable and home-grown fresh produce to our shelves.

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How to make a potato store more efficient and get better sprout control

A well-sealed store will decrease your energy bills, and increase the efficiency on sprout suppressants like ethylene and spearmint oil. In this article, Adrian Cunnington, Head of Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research at AHDB Potatoes shares some tips for assessing and improving your potato store. The loss of approval of CIPC will inevitably mandate change within the potato industry. For many it may mean using alternative sprout suppressants. Others may choose to go chemical-free, moving to varieties with a longer dormancy period, or by storing at lower temperatures. For all though, optimising storage conditions and reducing operating costs are likely to be high priorities.

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Efforts to save East Africa’s potatoes from potato cyst nematodes

Scientists at CGIAR-IITA, working with the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) (under the joint Nematology Unit, NemAfrica, based in Nairobi), and their national and international partners have been at the forefront of efforts to address a new emerging pest threat to the production of potato in the East Africa region: potato cyst nematodes (PCN), These destructive pests can cause yield losses of up to 80%, and in some instances, even total crop failure, reports Kilimo News in a recent article.

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Breakthrough in soil analysis: ‘A library for understanding the soils of the world’

A breakthrough in how soils are analyzed, known as soil spectroscopy, is equipping both farmers and government decision-makers with a new tool in combatting land degradation and improving farmers’ crop yields and income. Soil spectroscopy analysis has proven to be faster, cheaper and more precise than conventional testing, giving agricultural producers at all scales vital information on how to improve their soils, in turn boosting crop yields and food production. The technology uses infrared electromagnetic radiation to measure how much energy the soil surface reflects at specific wavelengths, providing what scientists call a spectral signature.

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McDonald’s unveils most energy efficient flagship restaurant yet

McDonald’s has unveiled a new global flagship restaurant that is aiming for the “ultimate efficiency” in energy usage and performance. The chain said that the “first-of-its-kind” site in Orlando, Florida will generates all its own power to run its entire kitchen and restaurant operation from renewable energy. The construction of the restaurant means it can create enough renewable energy on-site to cover 100% of its energy needs on a net annual basis. McDonald’s will also use the flagship as a learning hub to test solutions for reducing energy and water use in future.

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McCain steps in to support UK potato industry, put three-to-five-year loyalty scheme in place for growers

The UK’s £1bn potato growing sector has been hit so hard by extreme weather and coronavirus that its largest customer is stepping in with £25m of support to secure its supply chain. The hardest hit growers have been those who sell in the spot market rather than under contract, such as those selling for “fresh chipping” on the premises of food outlets. McCain, which buys about 15 per cent of the UK’s annual potato crop, normally has one-year contracts with growers. But as part of the £25m investment it will put in place a three-to-five-year loyalty scheme so farmers can be assured of their market.

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Dutch ag sector has ‘lowest environmental footprint’ in the world

The Dutch agricultural sector is said to have, relatively speaking, the lowest environmental impact of all countries in the world. That is what ABN Amro says. According to the bank, the joint ‘footprint of CO2, energy, pesticides and antibiotics in the Netherlands is the smallest per kilo of agricultural product.’ “We produce more per hectare of land here than any other country,” says Jan de Ruyter, agricultural sector banker at ABN Amro.

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‘Water efficiency crucial during prolonged dry summers’

Identifying hotspots and increased use of drip-feed irrigation equipment will be key to increased grower efficiency in the UK, minimising the toll on domestic water supply, and stopping the potential introduction of abstraction reforms, an expert has claimed. According to an article published by UK based trade magazine Potato Review, more than 50% of potatoes produced in the UK are irrigated, and in recent years the country has experienced reduced water availability and increased demand as a result of the hotter, drier summers, which are set to stay for the future.

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Bayer launches carbon capture program for U.S. and Brazil farmers

Bayer AG launched a pilot program in the United States and Brazil on Tuesday that will pay farmers for capturing carbon in cropland soils, making it the latest agriculture company to capitalize on environmental initiatives. The company seeks to enroll about 1,200 row crop farmers in its Bayer Carbon Initiative in the first season, scale up in upcoming seasons, and ultimately expand to other countries, company executives said.

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Storage life post-CIPC: AHDB specialists address key grower concerns

Three storage webinars hosted by AHDB in the UK in June were an opportunity for British growers and store managers to hear from the team of storage experts at Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, as well as cleaning and agronomy specialists. To complement the webinar sessions AHDB answered some frequently asked questions around key topics of potato storage post CIPC in a news release issued today.

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McCain Foods to build three Farms of the Future to showcase regenerative farming practices

McCain Foods announced last week a commitment to improving the sustainability of our products, including the iconic French Fry, with a key focus on creating a more sustainable approach to potato farming. Key to this commitment is building three Farms of the Future to showcase how regenerative farming practices and the latest agricultural technology and innovations, can be implemented at scale. In partnership with leading academics and suppliers, each will focus on demonstrating that more sustainable practices can also create a more financially viable future for farming, while at the same time increasing food production.

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UK: ‘Let’s talk!’ – AHDB open session announced

Folks, the following note was sent to us here at Global Potato News, and we are happy to publish it for your information as such. AHDB: We are pleased to invite you to this open session of the AHDB Potato Board where we will be discussing the potato levy and storage research. In response to what was said in Defra’s Request for Views about how the potato levy is collected, we are reviewing the basis of how your levy is calculated this summer and welcome businesses sharing their views with us. We will outline how the levy is collected, and why the system was created in its current form, before sharing some ideas we’ve already received on potential options for the future.

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McCain Foods unveils Australia’s largest ‘behind-the-meter’ renewable energy system

McCain Foods Australia has announced today it has commenced construction on a renewable energy system that will reduce emissions from its Ballarat food processing facility by more than 27,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. The project, which will house Australia’s largest “behind-the-meter” renewable energy system, will subsidise McCain’s energy consumption in Ballarat by 39 per cent. The solar power, which will be generated from unused flat space on existing land surrounding the plant, will also provide three electric charging ports and shaded car spaces.

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Rooted apical cuttings bridging the seed potato gap in Kenya

Potato is the second most consumed crop in Kenya after maize. However, majority of the farmers still struggle to access quality clean seed and this has always led to reduced productivity. Using rooted apical cuttings introduced through USAID’s Feed the Future Accelerated Value Chain Development Program (AVCD) is changing this. Cuttings are similar to nursery grown seedlings. They are produced from tissue culture plantlets in a screenhouse and are clean and free from disease.

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The cost of potato haulm desiccation without diquat

According to AHDB in the UK, Spotlight and/or Gozai straights or combinations, along with flailing, can give virtually as quick desiccation as diquat. This was shown in trials and demonstrations across AHDB’s Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm network to evaluate potential replacements have shown. But at what cost? Dr Mark Stalham, Head of NIAB CUF who led the trials, reveals the results, and Mark Topliff from AHDB’s Farm Economics team crunches the numbers.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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