A BBC Ideas video underlines the importance of soil, often overlooked despite its crucial role in life on Earth. The soil hosts an estimated 50,000 species of microscopic organisms per gram, forming a complex ecosystem of mutual benefit between creatures like earthworms, microorganisms, and plants. Soil growth is slow, taking over 100 years to form just half a centimeter. Despite being a valuable carbon store and a vital part of Earth’s nitrogen and carbon cycle, it is under threat due to intensive farming, chemical contamination, and urbanization.
Eight new projects across nine countries: PepsiCo expands its Positive Agriculture Outcomes initiative
PepsiCo has unveiled the third year of its global agriculture initiative, the Positive Agriculture Outcomes (PAO) Accelerator, endorsing eight more projects in nine nations. Aimed at addressing pressing agricultural issues, the initiative propels PepsiCo’s pep+ agenda. The PAO Accelerator pledges co-investment to local farms to expedite various Positive Agriculture projects and supports agri-tech startups with scalable products or technologies. Projects planned for 2023 include improving soil health, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and enhancing climate resilience.
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.
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.
Researchers at the University of Idaho and the USDA/ERS conducted a study to identify soil health practices that are acceptable to farmers. The study considered several factors, including their production systems, land management, and farmers’ attitudes toward these practices. It highlights the challenges of intensive farming on soil health and explores factors influencing farmers’ decisions, such as profitability, land tenure, and capital constraints. The research aims to identify acceptable practices for farmers to promote soil health and profitability.
At Agritechnica 2023, Bayer showcased its commitment to digital farming for regenerative agriculture. Highlighting AI and data-driven precision farming, Bayer presented FieldView, a leading digital platform, and new products like FieldView Cab for Android. Their “Magic” series offers advanced field insights. Bayer’s collaboration with Microsoft in developing AgPowered Services and the Azure Data Manager for Agriculture further underscores their commitment to advancing agriculture through technology.
‘From Pampas to Progress’: Argentinian crop specialist shares insights into ecologically intensified cropping systems
In the latest Yara Crop Nutrition podcast, the presenters delve into the heart of modern agriculture with Dr. Fernando Garcia, a renowned expert in soil fertility and crop nutrition, and Free Professor at the College of Agricultural Sciences of the National University of Mar del Plata, Argentina. Dr Garcia highlights several innovative practices that are being developed and implemented in Argentina, such as precision agriculture, drones, and satellite imagery to monitor crop health and optimize inputs.
The UK’s largest potato supplier, Branston, is exploring a farm-scale net-zero project to enhance efficiency and sustainability in the potato supply chain. This three-year project involves trials like a novel potato pulp fertiliser, nitrogen-fixing biostimulant, and min-till pilots, aiming to reduce carbon emissions while maintaining commercial viability. The project, now in its second year, is conducted by Branston’s field technology manager, Andy Blair, with host farmers David Armstrong and John Stirling in Lincolnshire and Scotland, respectively.
At AGRITECHNICA 2023, German Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir visited crop.zone’s booth, expressing keen interest in their sustainable glyphosate alternatives. crop.zone’s CEO Dirk Vandenhirtz highlighted this as a testament to their commitment to eco-friendly agricultural solutions. Their innovative Hybrid Herbicide Technology combines efficiency, environmental friendliness, and effective plant control, impressing Özdemir and marking a significant step towards sustainable agriculture and advanced precision farming methods.
‘Spuds to energy’: Researchers at the University of Prince Edward Island want to make hydrogen from potato peels
Researchers at UPEI in Canada are innovating green energy by converting potato peels into hydrogen gas. Led by Yulin Hu, the project explores syngas production from food waste, with Nasim Mia studying UV light’s role in the process. Funded by various sources, this research is part of a broader initiative to transition from petroleum to hydrogen energy, promising significant environmental benefits and solutions for a greener future.
The Potato Sustainability Alliance (PSA) has launched a Grower Program to enhance sustainable farming. Utilizing the Cropwise Sustainability app, the program offers tools for growers to measure and improve their sustainability practices. Benefits include real-time insights, benchmark reports, and data control. Enrollment is simple, empowering growers to contribute to a more sustainable future for potato production. The PSA continues to lead the charge in eco-friendly agricultural advancements.
At the Food Systems Transformation symposium, experts highlighted the urgent need for a strategic overhaul of global food security methods. The event, hosted by Agrico and SeedNL, emphasized the importance of sustainable, inclusive food systems and the role of strategic policy in leveraging food as a geopolitical asset. Discussions covered the necessity of local focus, innovation, and multi-stakeholder cooperation, with a special mention of Africa’s challenges in value addition due to trade laws.
Jacob Vanderschaaf, a seasoned potato industry veteran, warns of a potential ‘sunset’ in agriculture – a decline due to unsustainable practices. He contrasts this with a ‘sunrise’ scenario, advocating for a sustainable future through organic and regenerative farming. Vanderschaaf calls for collective action among farmers, consumers, and policymakers to embrace eco-friendly methods, ensuring a thriving agricultural legacy for future generations.
McCain Foods USA received a $6.9 million USDA grant to enhance soil health and implement sustainable potato practices in partnership with Campbell Soup Company and the Soil Health Institute. The project supports McCain’s commitment to regenerative agriculture, aiming to revolutionize potato farming in response to climate challenges, with the goal of adopting these practices globally by 2030. This partnership will also contribute to Campbell’s ongoing potato sustainability program.
The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology introduces the E-Planner, a free tool designed to guide farmers in sustainable land decisions. In a video discussion, Marek Nowakowski and developer John Redhead explore the app’s capabilities, from identifying optimal habitats for wildlife conservation to using heat maps for environmental actions. Aiming to merge profitable agriculture with wildlife preservation, the E-Planner offers a promising step towards a greener farming future.
CropX Technologies, a pioneer in digital farm management, has released its inaugural Sustainability Report titled “People, Planet and Prosperity.” The report underscores CropX’s commitment to sustainable farming and its global influence through its products and business operations. Emphasizing environmental sustainability, the company’s innovative system aids farmers in optimizing irrigation, conserving water, reducing chemical use, and boosting crop yields. The report also delves into CropX’s efforts to minimize its manufacturing impact and corporate carbon footprint.
RegenAG Nation is set to host RANCON 2023 on November 1st in Boise, Idaho, spotlighting the future of regenerative agriculture. Key speakers include Brad McIntyre, who champions sustainable farming practices, Jim Pingrey, an expert in soil health, and Sujay Senrayan from Ecostat Technologies, emphasizing biopesticides. The University of Idaho will also share their latest research findings. The event promises innovative insights into sustainable farming.
Leading the green revolution: crop.zone and John Deere’s Dual.Volt.24M wins prestigious Agrifuture award
Aachen-based crop.zone, in collaboration with John Deere, has secured the DLG-Agrifuture prize for their innovative Dual.Volt.24M system. This electric, herbicide-free plant management system offers a 24-meter working width. Recognized for its sustainable agricultural solutions, the award-winning technology will be showcased at AGRITECHNICA in Hanover. The system emphasizes precise crop management and will undergo pilot testing with farmers in 2024.
In October 2023, Nigeria introduced the National Potato Strategy, aiming to rejuvenate its potato industry. This strategy seeks to ensure food and nutrition security, promote trade surplus, and enhance incomes. Recognizing the challenges in the potato value chain, the plan involves collaboration among key stakeholders to maximize their combined strengths. The launch event highlighted the untapped potential of potato commercialization and emphasized the importance of quality seed access, strategic partnerships, and sector-wide coordination.
Emerald Research Ltd. (ERL) is set to discuss the commercial viability of regenerative potato farming at the Potato Event 2023 in Yorkshire. The event will reveal the first results of the ‘Transformative Reduced Inputs in Potatoes’ (TRIP) project. ERL invites industry experts to vote on the feasibility of such farming practices. The trials have explored various sustainable farming methods, with results available for viewing at stand 193 during the event.
Syngenta, part of The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), has integrated its Sustainable Outcomes in Agriculture (SOA) standard with TSC’s THESIS system, offering a comprehensive sustainability solution for growers. The Cropwise Sustainability mobile app facilitates this, enabling growers to monitor and share their regenerative practices progress. This collaboration streamlines sustainability reporting, with a focus on various sustainable outcomes, and fosters consistent reporting in the agricultural sector.
Global temperatures in September 2023 reached a new record, surpassing previous highs by a significant margin, leading scientists to express their astonishment. Following the hottest July and August, September became the warmest September ever recorded, with temperatures about 1.8°C above pre-industrial levels. This surge in temperature is attributed to the continuous high carbon dioxide emissions and the rapid onset of an El Niño event.
Scotland’s staple crops, including potatoes and raspberries, face challenges due to increasing global temperatures. To address this, scientists are harnessing the power of genomics, building on advances from the 2000 plant DNA sequencing breakthrough. The “phenomic revolution,” led by the James Hutton Institute, employs cutting-edge technology to study crops’ genetic responses to environmental changes, paving the way for a resilient agricultural future amidst the climate crisis.
On-farm sustainability reporting: Syngenta, Potato Sustainability Alliance to support growers, processors
Syngenta Canada has partnered with the Potato Sustainability Alliance (PSA) to enhance on-farm sustainability in potato production using Syngenta’s SOA standard and Cropwise Sustainability app. The collaboration aims to provide over 550 North American potato growers with actionable sustainability insights.