Latest news stories from around the World

University of Idaho researchers aiding in development of solar-powered weeding robot

A pair of researchers from University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences are partnering with a Washington company to develop a solar-powered robot that will rove autonomously through farm fields and eradicate weeds. The company behind the project, Aigen, based in Kirkland, Washington, hopes to have a prototype of the robot finished by late this summer. The robot will have wheels and will be roughly the size of a shopping cart, rolling between rows in farm fields before crop canopies close.

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Technical advisory board named to support Global Biotech Potato Partnership

The Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership is a five-year project managed by Michigan State University that focuses on the commercialization of late blight disease resistant potatoes in farmer-preferred varieties in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, and Nigeria. The Partnership is pleased to announce members of the project’s technical advisory board (TAB).

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Idaho FFA launches pilot program of a new Idaho Potato Evaluation career development event

Idaho FFA (Future Farmers of America) launched a pilot program of a new career development event (CDE) this year, paying homage to the Gem State’s most famous crop. In Washington, FFA youth compete in the special Apple Evaluation CDE. Alaska’s FFA program has its Marine Technology CDE, recognizing the state’s important fishing industry. In that spirit, Idaho FFA now has the Idaho Potato Evaluation CDE.

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Stress factors could increase risk of early blight

Stress factors set to hit potato crops over the coming weeks could increase the risk of Alternaria (early blight) outbreaks, warns Syngenta Technical Manager in the UK, Andy Cunningham. Many British crops are still suffering the adverse effects of exceptionally low rainfall this spring, while the hugely inflated cost of fertiliser has seen potato growers cut back nutritional inputs to the bare minimum.

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Elea breaking into Chinese snack and chips market with new PEF system

Liwayway Marketing Corporation, with its brand Oishi and more than 100 product varieties, is one of the leading snack companies in Asia. From its humble beginnings of “gawgaw” and coffee 70 years ago, it has taken on bigger and more exciting adventures. In 2021, a first Elea PEF Advantage B1 system has been installed in Liwayway´s potato chips line in close cooperation with Elea’s regional partner for China Beijing Lenno Trade Co., Ltd.

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McCain Foods India releases second edition of Sustainability Report

McCain Foods has launched the second edition of the India Sustainability Report 2021 – titled ‘Together-Towards Planet-Friendly Food’ earlier this week, highlighting the steps taken by the company towards delivering planet-friendly food, encouraging the use of sustainable practices and helping communities thrive with a sustainable livelihood.

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‘Storage costs pressurised as never before’, says potato storage specialist

In the second of two articles, potato storage specialist Adrian Cunnington of Potato Storage Insight (PSI) homes in on how to compile an accurate cost estimate. Ultimately all of those things are dependent on the basic cost of running a storage set-up, Adrian says, and it is important to have a really good grasp of what those costs are. “There is perhaps no time in the history of modern potato storage as we know it when costs have been so pressurised,” he says.

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McCain switching from coal to woodchips to make potato chips in New Zealand

A $5.6 million project to eliminate CO2 emissions and reduce demand for heating fuel at McCain’s Timaru factory in New Zealand will soon use woodchips to make potato chips. As Yashas Srinivasa reports for, the company is converting its boiler from coal to domestically sourced woodchips, which will help McCain reduce its carbon emissions by approximately 30,000 tonnes per year.

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Nuffield scholar calls for a better connected Scottish spud sector

Scotland’s potato sector is too ‘linear’ – and needs more ‘circular’ connections if it is to respond better to challenges. As Gordon Davidson reports for The Scottish Farmer, that was the conclusion of Nuffield scholar Claire Hodge, a potato industry professional who has just published her Nuffield Farming report titled ‘Improving connectivity in the seed potato supply chain’.

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Do cows like potatoes? Inflation is causing one Canadian farmer to find out

As Maria Iqbal reports for the Toronto Star, Lieven Verschaeve is serving up something new on his 500-acre farm in Blyth in Canada’s Ontario province. The dairy farmer and his son, Ward, used to feed their Holstein cows dry corn grown on their farm. But seeing rising prices, Lieven began feeding his cows potatoes. Spuds have the same amount of starch, a feed consultant told them, and could save the family big time.

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McCain announces new ‘Farm of the Future’ in South Africa at critical moment for the global food system

McCain Foods Limited has unveiled plans for a second ‘Farms of the Future’ in South Africa, as part of its drive to cut carbon emissions and tackle the impacts of climate change. At Farm of the Future Africa, the potential to grow multiple crops per year, innovate with irrigation technology in a water-scarce region as well as the challenges arising from the presence of soil-borne pests and diseases make it the ideal location for transferring learning to other parts of the world

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Dewulf’s Structural 4000 belt planter now equipped with new features

Dewulf presents a couple of innovations for the Structural 4000 within its planting range. This 4-row Miedema Structural belt planter is now available as Smart-Float, previously known for the CP 42 cup planter. This innovation is made possible by an automatic depth control system (Smart-Float). As a second innovation, Dewulf is pleased to announce a portal steering system for the Structural 4000.

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The new PRO Sort: GRIMME UK and Haith reveal their vision for optical sorting

Designed to automate the removal of stone, clod and foreign debris from potatoes and help growers cope with labour shortages, demonstrations of the new PRO Sort are now being organised in the UK. GRIMME UK and Haith worked together on its development. As the PRO Sort is a modular unit, it can be used either in the field or on a farm and be easily integrated into a new or existing grading line. At the heart of the PRO Sort is a TOMRA 3A optical sorter.

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Potato emergence problems: Checklist of common factors that reduce seed emergence

At times, potato growers may experience poor emergence of potato plants. There are number of reasons why potato plants may not emerge properly. Potato specialists Andy Robinson, Eugenia Banks and Steven B. Johnson have compiled a list of common problems that can cause poor potato emergence and stand. Utilizing this list can help growers more rapidly identify the cause and improve management of the crop and subsequent crops.

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Europatat celebrates 70th Anniversary, elects new President, and approves Strategic Plan for 2022-2025

During the World Potato Congress event in Dublin last week, Europatat, the European Potato Trade Association, held its first in-person General Assembly meeting since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 90 delegates from 21 countries celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the association, and elected a new Board to lead the association for the coming years, welcoming Mr. Tigran Richter as the new President. Europatat members also approved a new Strategy for the period 2022-2025.

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Mallorcan potato exports to the UK ‘in doubt’

The future of exports of Mallorcan potatoes to the United Kingdom is in doubt thanks to Brexit and the long queues truckers have to endure at British ports, according to a report by Humphrey Carter for the Majorca Daily Bulletin. The current potato export season has been described as “better than expected” by growers in Sa Pobla, but “future seasons are in serious danger”, according to the manager of Mateu Export, the municipality’s main exporter.

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World Environment Day, June 5: Earth ‘cannot keep up with our demands’, says UN chief

“This planet is our only home”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for World Environment Day, marked this Sunday, warning that the Earth’s natural systems “cannot keep up with our demands”. “It is vital we safeguard the health of its atmosphere, the richness and diversity of life on Earth, its ecosystems and its finite resources.  But we are failing to do so,” said the UN chief.

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PepsiCo to add new line to Lay’s plant, expanding its largest food plant in India

PepsiCo India today announced expansion plans for its largest greenfield foods manufacturing plant that produces the popular LAY’S potato chips in Kosi Kalan, Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. As part of its expansion plan, PepsiCo India will increase the capacity of the state-of-the-art foods plant, by setting-up a new manufacturing line which will produce one of world’s leading nacho chip brand Doritos. 

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Greentronics’ crop yield monitoring product now comes with new features

Greentronics is excited to announce that integration of its RightYield product with John Deere series GS3 and now also GS4 is available. “Greentronics yield monitors are designed for root crop and vegetable harvesters,” says Bill Menkveld of Greentronics Ltd. Growers use yield maps in combination with soil and fertility maps to study and manage variability in their fields and generate report cards on their progress. By applying break-even points, yield maps can indicate areas with profit and loss.

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Ireland: Brexit Adjustment Reserve funded seed potato scheme now open for applications

In recognition of the value of the horticulture sector in Ireland, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, and Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity with special responsibility for horticulture, Senator Pippa Hackett, today announced the opening of the €3 million scheme of Investment Aid for the Seed Potato Sector. Capital grant aid is available at a rate of up to 40% for all approved investments with qualifying young farmers receiving up to 60% grant aid.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor & Publisher

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