Sustainability

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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Sustainable spuds: The EU’s ‘Potatoes Forever!’ campaign champions eco-conscious cultivation

The EU’s “Potatoes Forever!” campaign champions sustainable potato cultivation and consumption in Europe. Funded by the EU for 2024, it targets adults 35-49 through various media, teaching about eco-friendly potato practices from farming to dining, in line with the “Farm to Fork” strategy. This initiative aims to transform the industry and maintain potatoes as a dietary staple, respecting nature and combating climate change.

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A green leap forward: Australian company’s sustainable potato bag wins top packaging award

Australian company Detpak has received the APPMA Packaging Design Innovation Award for their Kerbside Recyclable Paper Bag for Fresh Potatoes. In partnership with Mitolo Family Farms and Coles, they developed the recyclable bag, significantly cutting plastic use and fitting the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s sustainability criteria. Detpak celebrates this eco-friendly achievement as a step towards more sustainable grocery packaging solutions.

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American farmlands face crisis: Soil erosion outpaces regeneration

Mihai Andrei’s ZME Science article reports severe soil erosion in the US Midwest, exacerbated by agriculture, with losses up to 1,000 times the rate of natural replenishment. Highlighting a critical threat to food sustainability, Andrei emphasizes the urgency for sustainable farming practices, like no-till methods and cover cropping. He urges action from policymakers, researchers, and consumers to preserve topsoil and ensure long-term food security.

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Lightning-based fertiliser technology could support farmers, climate and soil health

UK Agri-Tech Centres partner with Debye Ltd. to trial a system that mimics lightning for on-site nitrate fertilizer production, reducing carbon emissions and improving soil health. The technology, created by a former space engineer, uses only air, water, and electricity, aiming to lessen the environmental impact of traditional fertilizers and enhance food security.

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New compostable, biodegradable packaging material derived from potato starch

Bio Plast Pom, in collaboration with Gdańsk University of Technology, has developed NOPLA, a compostable and biodegradable material made from potato starch aimed at minimizing environmental harm, CO2 emissions, and energy consumption. This non-synthetic, plastic-free material degrades within 3-6 months, aligns with EU eco-standards, and nourishes marine life rather than causing damage. Bio Plast Pom launched its proprietary production line for NOPLA biogranulate in May 2023.

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James Hutton Institute spearheads global food security with new National Potato Innovation Centre

The James Hutton Institute plans to establish the National Potato Innovation Centre to bolster food security, focusing on potatoes’ role in global strategies. The NPIC will utilize a new glasshouse complex to breed potato varieties suited to warmer, sustainable environments. With a reputation in potato science and a history of R&D success, the institute’s facility, housing the Commonwealth Potato Collection, aims to promote drought tolerance and disease resistance in potatoes, thereby future-proofing the UK industry.

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Innovative Dutch-Ukrainian project to rebuild potato farming industry amidst conflict

Ukraine’s potato market has declined due to war, increased costs, and climate pressures. Agrico’s “Rebuilding Potato Ukraine” project, funded by the Netherlands, aims to revive the industry with a Climate Smart Potato Demo Center, focusing on production and education for 3,000 farmers, 60% women. It promises to bolster local food security by facilitating an annual production of 53 million kg of potatoes and supports several Sustainable Development Goals while navigating war-related risks.

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The dawn of nano-agriculture: How nanotechnology is shaping sustainable farming

A study in Agronomy journal details how nanotechnology, dubbed ‘nanofarming’, can transform agriculture, addressing issues like soil degradation and crop protection. The review discusses nanofertilizers, nanopesticides, and nano-enhanced soil, emphasizing the need to balance the benefits with potential risks like nanopollution. It aligns nanofarming with sustainability goals and advocates for further research to optimize its use, highlighting its role in achieving food security amidst environmental challenges.

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The future of farming: Exploring the realities of regenerative agricultural practices

In “Regenerative Agriculture – Hype or Hope?” by Professor Mario Caccamo, the potential of regenerative farming to improve environmental outcomes is highlighted. Despite its increasing popularity, concerns about its economic feasibility and preliminary lower yields challenge its wider adoption. Integrating precision agriculture, NIAB research under Caccamo advocates for evidence-based practices to realize regenerative agriculture’s promise for sustainable food production amid climate change.

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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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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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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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Resilience in the fields: Dutch farmers struggle through extreme weather challenges

Dutch farmers struggle with climate-change-induced extreme weather, leading to crop losses, especially potatoes, carrots, and sugar beets. Wageningen University research focuses on mitigating the effects of severe weather on soil and crop health. Strategies under exploration include utilizing lighter farming machinery and breeding resilient crop varieties. Challenges extend to spring-flowering bulbs, with efforts underway to manage water levels effectively. The university emphasizes the urgency of developing adaptive agricultural practices and crop varieties resistant to extreme conditions.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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