Sustainability

The fragile fate of Aussie spuds: Battling climate and another threat of shortage

Australia faces another potential potato shortage, just a year after the last crisis. Potato grower Terry Buckley highlights the industry’s susceptibility to extreme weather, with optimal growing temperatures between 20-30°C. Climatologists predict more heatwaves, intensifying the challenge. The industry, constrained by strict cultivation contracts and high production costs, considers exports as a buffer against domestic volatility, highlighting the precarious nature of agricultural sustainability amidst climate change.

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Diverse cover crops a key strategy in British grower’s regenerative approach

In a recent discussion at Groundswell, agronomist Ed Brown, head of agroecology at Hutchinson’s in the UK, and East Shropshire grower John Bubb showcased the potential of growing potatoes regeneratively, focusing on good soil analysis and careful management. On Bubb’s 2,000-acre farm, they integrate soil health with crop diversity to maintain yields and cut inputs. Techniques include diverse cover crops, reduced tillage, with pest control also a focus.

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‘Tackling challenges head-on’: Exploring trends and triumphs at Ontario’s premier potato gathering

The 2024 Ontario Potato Conference and Trade Show, organized by Dr. Eugenia Banks, will address critical issues in the industry. Keynote speaker Gary Secor will tackle late blight, while Mark VanOostrum shares grower challenges. The event includes a dynamic Trade Show and afternoon sessions on soil health and soft rot management. Attendees can gain CEU credits and free parking. Online registration will open soon, and the Ontario Potato Board encourages participation. Contact Dr. Banks for details.

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How zero tillage potato cultivation is empowering women and transforming lives in Bangladesh

The International Potato Center has introduced a groundbreaking method for potato cultivation in coastal Bangladesh: zero tillage using rice straw mulch. This innovative technique addresses environmental challenges, promotes economic growth, women’s empowerment, and improved rural livelihoods. By recycling straw as mulch and not disturbing soil structure, the method enhances soil fertility, reduces carbon emissions, and allows for saline-tolerant potato cultivation, leading to increased agricultural productivity in challenging environments.

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GreenLight Biosciences unveils ‘Calantha’: A revolutionary new bioinsecticide for Colorado potato beetle control

GreenLight Biosciences’ Calantha, a groundbreaking RNA-based bioinsecticide, has received EPA and state registration for controlling the destructive Colorado potato beetle. This marks a significant advancement in agricultural pest management, offering a sustainable, effective alternative to traditional chemical pesticides. Calantha degrades quickly without leaving harmful residues.

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Creating a sustainable and greener food system: Key trends in 2023

In a piece for Food Matters Live, Anna Turns highlights the significant environmental impact of food production, which contributes to 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions. She outlines 10 promising sustainability trends for 2023, including upcycled foods, lower-impact cooking, sustainable crops, and regenerative agriculture. This shift towards circular, less wasteful models and more environmentally friendly supply chains reflects the food industry’s ongoing efforts to create a responsible and sustainable food system.

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The soil-plant connection: A comprehensive guide to soil health and plant vitality

Joel Williams, a plant and soil health educator in the UK, presented “Soils and Nutrition” delving into the complex relationship between soil health and plant nutrition. He emphasized the critical role of soil in supporting healthy plants, discussed global soil degradation, and advocated for a holistic approach to soil management. Williams explained the role of plants in soil health and outlined practical strategies for improvement.

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An organic evolution: Kroeker Farms’ journey to sustainable potato farming

Kroeker Farms, based in Manitoba, Canada, prioritizes sustainable potato production. While mainly conventional, they are a leading organic potato producer in North America. Their sustainable practices include crop rotation, soil health maintenance, and responsible water management. Chief Operating Officer Harwin Bouwman emphasizes the farm’s long-term impact considerations, guiding their strategic investments in organic production and sustainable water management, positioning them at the forefront of environmentally conscious potato farming.

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The future of farming: Insights from the World Potato Congress webinar on combatting food loss

In a recent webinar hosted by the World Potato Congress, Luciana Delgado analyzed losses in the potato value chain, emphasizing their impact on food security, economic growth, and environmental sustainability. Delgado presented the “Food Losses App,” a tool to assess and address food losses for farmers, aligning with Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. She emphasized the unequal impacts of food loss, the need for precise measurement, targeted interventions, and creating a business case for reducing losses at the producer level.

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Sustainable spuds: Making regenerative ag work in potato production

Brendon Rockey, a Colorado potato farmer, is implementing regenerative agriculture to address soil degradation and water scarcity. His farm uses diverse crop rotations, cover crops, and integrates livestock grazing, enhancing soil health and reducing water usage. This approach also involves novel pest management strategies. Manitoba potato farmers are exploring similar paths, The shift towards sustainable practices is influenced by industry demands, with companies like McCain Foods and PepsiCo mandating regenerative methods from their suppliers by 2030.

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Pulsemaster revolutionizes food processing with new innovative Compact PEF system

Pulsemaster has launched a compact industrial-scale pulsed electric field (PEF) system, designed to process up to 10 tons of tubers, roots, vegetables, and fruits per hour. It’s a revolutionary fit for small and mid-scale production lines due to its minimal footprint, rapid startup, and commitment to sustainability. It uses electroporation for tissue softening, enhancing food quality. Particularly beneficial for frozen foods, it enhances flavor and maintains cell structure. Pulsemaster’s new system illustrates their dedication to advancing food quality and production efficiency globally.

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From spuds to fuel: Researchers develop hydrogen fuel from potato peelings, waste products

Researchers at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) in Canada are developing a sustainable and cost-effective method to produce hydrogen from waste materials, including used plastic and potato peelings. This innovative approach involves using a catalyst to break down waste and release hydrogen gas. The research aims to align with global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable energy sources, potentially transforming the energy sector.

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Innovative farming breakthrough: Canadian potato farmers achieve remarkable yields in no-fertilizer experiment

Researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada conducted the #AAFCPlowdownChallenge to examine how well potatoes would grow using only nitrogen leftover from previous crops and cover crops, without fertilizers. “This yield result is very good, in our opinion. It shows the ability of the soil to provide nutrients from a previous crop, like red clover, to help grow potatoes,” says Scott Anderson, AAFC science coordinator. They believe the experiment demonstrates the value of efficient fertilizer use and the benefits of considering leftover soil nutrients for sustainable farming.

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‘Growing goodness’: Particularly Good Potatoes aims for carbon neutrality milestone

“Particularly Good Potatoes”, a brand launched in 2019, has grown into a popular supplier of chips and potato products across North East Britain. The company, with a 99-year history in farming, is now moving towards carbon neutrality and sustainable agriculture. They have introduced a range of strategies to lower their carbon emissions, including soil conservation, planting cover crops, and planning additional hedgerows. Furthermore, the company is reusing water in its processes and reducing reliance on imported potatoes.

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Adapting to change: New study sheds light on how European potato farmers confront climate challenges

A study involving 553 farmers across 22 European countries, funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 program, reveals climate change’s impact on potato farming. Drought and heat, resulting from global warming, could cause potato yields to decrease by 18-32% by 2069. Current farming strategies aren’t sufficient, and effective adaptive methods could halve losses. The research highlights the need for improved potato varieties, better knowledge exchange, and a wider use of climate-resilient strategies.

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The potato’s role in food security: FAO welcomes decision to celebrate International Day of Potato

The UN has designated May 30 as International Day of Potato in a bid to stress the vegetable’s global importance for food security. The move was initiated by Peru and builds on the International Year of Potato, observed in 2008. As a versatile, climate-friendly crop that is both nutritionally and economically valuable, potatoes play a pivotal role in addressing global hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

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USDA funds Potatoes USA-backed research for sustainable pest control alternatives

The USDA has funded a Potatoes USA-backed project to find alternatives to neonicotinoids, used for 25 years in potato farming. Facing environmental and retailer concerns, this “Potato IPM” project aims to develop non-neonic pest strategies, create decision tools, study socioeconomic impacts, and encourage grower adoption. Potatoes USA’s committee secured significant industry support, continuing its history of advancing sustainable potato farming practices with this groundbreaking initiative.

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Soil: ‘The wonder stuff beneath your feet’

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.

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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.

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Soil Health Institute and McCain Foods webinar: ‘Making Cover Crops Pay in Potatoes’

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.

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Crop rotation increases good bacteria to promote plant health

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.

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Potato production and soil health: Insights from U.S. potato growers

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.

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Bayer unveils pioneering digital solutions for sustainable agriculture at Agritechnica 2023

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.

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‘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.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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