Sustainability

Dalhousie’s McCain Research Chair secures five more years of support from McCain Foods and Potatoes New Brunswick

McCain Foods and Potatoes New Brunswick have extended their support for Dalhousie University’s McCain Research Chair, reinforcing their commitment to sustainable agriculture and food security. Dr. Ahmad Al-Mallahi, holding this position since 2018, focuses on developing advanced agricultural technologies. His team has produced prototypes that optimize farm productivity and has recently been granted more support for another five years. This partnership aims to integrate cutting-edge technologies with regenerative farming practices.

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Spuds in crisis: Climate change hits European and global potato industry

Climate change is severely impacting potato crops globally, causing price surges and jeopardizing farmers’ livelihoods. Heavy rainfall, floods, and droughts have led to reduced yields, lower quality, and increased disease. From Canada’s significant losses to Europe’s crop declines and similar struggles in Africa and South America, the global potato industry is under stress. This crisis highlights the urgent need for action against climate change to protect food security and the agricultural sector.

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As the EU stalls, leading plant breeder warns that England must not let precision breeding opportunity slip

Nigel Moore highlights Britain’s opportunity to lead in plant breeding due to delays in the EU’s gene editing advancements. He expresses concerns over potential restrictive measures in the Precision Breeding Act’s secondary legislation, which may hinder the UK’s progress in agricultural innovation. Moore discusses the act’s attractiveness to investors and significant potential applications, such as enhanced crop yields. One potential application baby potatoes with ‘bunched’ root architecture which allow almost three times as many tubers to be produced from the same area of farmland.

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‘Nothing into something’: Little potatoes turn into big success for Canadian company

The Little Potato Company, established in 1996 in Edmonton by Angela Santiago and her father, has expanded significantly, inaugurating a new $39.5 million, 420,000-square-foot facility in Nisku, Alberta. This plant can distribute up to 125 million pounds of potatoes annually and features sustainable technologies like solar panels and water recycling. This development highlights Alberta’s flourishing agricultural sector.

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Navigating the green future: The Sustainability Consortium launches free Commodity mapping platform

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) has launched CommodityMap, a cloud-based platform that utilizes geospatial analytics to enhance sustainability in agricultural supply chains. This free, public tool provides insights, simplifies data collection with a proprietary model, and delivers science-based recommendations to improve supply chains. Supported by the Walmart Foundation, CommodityMap reflects TSC’s commitment to practical sustainability solutions, aiming to foster transparency and facilitate stakeholder collaboration towards a more sustainable consumer goods industry.

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‘The potato: A journey through time, cultures, and challenges’

This article, authored by Lukie Pieterse for UN Today, briefly explores the potato’s evolution from a wild Andean plant to a global dietary staple. Highlighting its historical and cultural significance, the piece delves into the crop’s role in human civilization, agricultural innovation, and its adaptability across varied climates. The narrative discusses the potato’s impact on societies, culinary traditions worldwide, and its ongoing adaptation to environmental challenges, as well as its crucial role in global food security and cultural diversity.

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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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Pioneering study highlights need for climate-resilient potato cultivars amidst global warming

A study by researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, published in Frontiers in Plant Science, reveals significant challenges potato cultivation faces due to climate change. The research team underscores the importance of developing stress-tolerant potato varieties to maintain global food security amid rising temperatures, drought, and increased pest incidences. The study includes advancements in understanding potato plants’ molecular responses to environmental stress, critical for breeding resilient cultivars.

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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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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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Study predicts significant future decline in potato yields on Prince Edward Island due to climate change

Researchers from the University of Prince Edward Island predict significant declines in potato yields due to climate change. Published in the journal Foods, the study forecasts a 6-10% decrease in yields under low-emission scenarios, and up to a 60% drop by the 2070s under high emissions, possibly reaching an 80% reduction by the 2090s. The study underlines temperature increases and variable precipitation as major factors affecting growth and urges the implementation of adaptation strategies.

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The role of potatoes in food security and nutrition worldwide: An in-depth analysis

Lukie Pieterse of Potato News Today highlights the potato’s vital role in global food security and nutrition. Rich in carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, potatoes yield more food per area than wheat and rice, thrive in diverse environments, and have a long shelf life, bolstering food availability. Accessible and affordable, they support vulnerable populations’ caloric needs and overall health. Despite challenges like post-harvest losses, promoting diverse preparation methods and sustainable practices can enhance potatoes’ role in a balanced diet and help combat global hunger.

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German potato industry champions sustainability and reduced bureaucracy ahead of EU elections

At the German Potato Trade Association’s 18th annual meeting in Regensburg, key discussions led by President Thomas Herkenrath focused on shaping EU policies to benefit the potato sector. The DKHV called for reduced bureaucracy, increased research support, eased trade barriers, and sustainable practices before the 2024 EU elections. Honorary board appointments celebrated industry contributions, underscoring the need for innovation-driven agricultural leadership.

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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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Potato Sustainability Alliance welcomes new member companies and grower associates

The Potato Sustainability Alliance has introduced a new Grower Associate category, and welcomed the Soil Health Institute, Walther Farms and DeGroot’s Vegetable Farms as members. PSA, having worked for 12 years on potato sustainability, provides a platform for all value chain actors to craft sustainability standards, and encourages more members to join at potatosustainability.org. The new members contribute efforts towards soil health and diversified vegetable farming.

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Seeding the future: CIP and SFSA’s partnership develops climate-resilient potatoes for a warmer world

The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and International Potato Center collaborate to develop climate-resilient potato and sweetpotato varieties for tropical regions. Recent achievements include rapid breeding programs in Vietnam and innovative sweetpotato food products, signifying progress in food security and commercial benefits. Partnerships with local communities and global organizations, such as the World Food Program, enhance nutrition and empower growers. Looking ahead, strategies will adapt to urbanization challenges, ensuring sustainable agricultural practices meet future demands.

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Eco-friendly farming: Study finds fresh potato cultivation produces much less greenhouse gas emissions than cereal production

The Union of the German Potato Industry (UNIKA) and the German Potato Trade Association (DKHV) have commissioned a significant literature review focused on the carbon footprint associated with potato cultivation and processing. The review showed potatoes have a lower carbon footprint than cereals, with the potential for further reduction. This study found processing increases emissions, and variables like fertilizer use impact the footprint, highlighting the crop’s role in sustainable food production.

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Transforming Uganda’s potato value chain: A Kilimo Kisasa success story of sustainable production

Potatoes are key for food security and income in Uganda, with demand growing for Dutch varieties favored by the processing industry. Kilimo Kisasa Limited is changing the Ugandan agricultural scene by locally multiplying these desirable varieties, therefore offering a cost-effective and sustainable option for farmers. Through partnerships, Kilimo Kisasa is advancing sustainable practices, enhancing food security, and increasing farmer incomes.

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‘Terra Carbono’: Pioneering a greener future in the potato industry

Terra Carbono, an innovative Hungarian ag-tech company, focuses on sustainable potato cultivation, aiming to reduce carbon footprints and improve agricultural productivity. They create biodegradable, carbon-negative products that boost yield, conserve water, and minimize chemical use while enhancing soil health. Terra Carbono is engaged in several partnerships for community betterment and sustainable practices.

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Rethinking soil fumigation: A new study explores its impact on agricultural sustainability

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied the effects of soil fumigation on agricultural sustainability, focusing on potato fields in Wisconsin. The study, which analyzed various indicators of soil health, found that fumigation’s impact varies significantly by soil type, enhancing outcomes in sandy soils but not in loamy soils. The research, published in Field Crops Research, emphasizes the role of soil microbial diversity in agricultural productivity and calls for tailored soil management practices to support sustainable agriculture.

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‘Drip by drip’: Engel Louwes’s innovative approach to sustainable potato farming with drip irrigation

Engel Louwes, a distinguished potato industry consultant, drives sustainability in agriculture through adopting drip irrigation. Specializing with 40 years of experience, Louwes’ career began in the 80s with companies like HZPC. His collaboration with Polish potato farmer Szymon Cena has become a hallmark project. Successfully introducing drip irrigation for potatoes in Poland, Louwes now aims to replicate this in India.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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