UK: Potato Cyst Nematode pest resistance and tolerance put to test at new Hutchinsons trial site

Agronomy firm Hutchinsons  is running a series of trials at its new Fenland potato demonstration site near Mildenhall in Suffolk to examine how 15 leading varieties of potato crop differ in their resistance and tolerance to Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) under a high pressure situation. Pictured are Michael Rodger and John Keer.Growing potato varieties that are both resistant and tolerant to PCN holds the key to tackling one of the biggest threats to UK crops, according to agronomy firm Hutchinsons. The firm’s new Fenland potato demonstration site near Mildenhall is looking at how 15 leading varieties differ in their resistance and tolerance to the pest under a high pressure situation. The aim is to improve the limited information on varietal tolerance to PCN available from breeders and dispel some of the misconceptions around the role of “resistance”, explained John Keer from Richard Austin Agriculture, who is managing the trial with his colleague Michael Rodger. “Resistance and tolerance are not linked. There is a crucial difference growers have to remember,” he said. More

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Large-scale potato industry event takes root in Scotland

PiP_2016A one-day technical potato industry event scheduled for next week will see growers, seed breeders, plant health officials, agronomists and scientists come together to discuss the key challenges and opportunities in the sector. Potatoes in Practice 2017 (PiP) – held on Thursday August 10, at the James Hutton Institute’s Balruddery Farm near Dundee – is described as the largest event of its kind in the UK. Attendees can review crop varieties and the results of new crop treatments, attend live machinery demonstrations and discover the latest research on current issues. Meanwhile topics like market intelligence, apps and diagnostic tools, late blight and agronomy, will feature as part of the day’s seminar programme. More

Potato research grant announced for Colorado State

Colorado U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., this week announced that Colorado State University will receive $2.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study the integration of new technologies to manage potato pathogens in North American potato crops. “Congratulations to Colorado State on receiving this grant to improve the treatment and management of potato pathogens,” Bennet said. “Potatoes are a critical part of our agricultural economy in Colorado. This grant is an investment in research that will assist potato growers across the country and protect future potato production” “It is critically important that the Department of Agriculture is working with our nation’s universities like Colorado State to support research that will assist our farmers with crop production,” Gardner said. More

Pests and diseases: Comprehensive online database now updated with latest information

A comprehensive online database, developed by a number of scientific and industry bodies in France was recently updated and published on the Ephytia web site for potatoes. Published in several European languages, this database on potato diseases, pests and disorders was developed by FN3PT (French National Federation of Seed Potato Growers), GNIS (French Association for Seeds and Seed Potatoes), ARVALIS-Institut du Végétal (French Technical Institute for Cereals, Forage and Potato Crops) and INRA (French  Institute for Agricultural Research), with the support of the Joint Technological Unit UMT INNOPLANT. One of the sections of the database includes a comprehensive list of potato diseases, pests and disorders – broken down in two broad categories, namely by Latin name and by common name of most diseases, pests and disorders of potatoes. The database further includes a section devoted to the identification of pests and diseases. The database is throughout accompanied by applicable photos, and an obviously unique source of valuable information for agronomists, researchers and farmers alike. More

Drones measure nitrogen application in potato farming

Researchers at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands announced that the ‘Toward precision agriculture 2.0’ research program has included a group of potato farmers carrying out test runs with sensor observations by drones. The drone images show exactly where they should apply more or less nitrogen on their fields, allowing farmers to use the product more efficiently. Precision agriculture researcher Johan Booij from Wageningen University & Research explains how it works: “The images captured by the drone of the potato field are converted into a map. The farmer is sent this map by e-mail and can upload it via an app on Akkerweb, which we developed with Agrifirm. This software then rolls out advice for farmers as to where they should use more or less nitrogen, and which areas don’t need extra application. While we have optimized the method for the use of the eBee-drone, developers of other drone types can make their sensor systems suitable too.” More

NZ: Mesh cheaper than chemicals in stopping potato psyllid

Charles Merfield with mesh which is more successful in warding off pests than chemicals.Scientist Dr Charles Merfield believes he has the answer to solving the problem of the potato psyllid, which costs growers about $10 million a year. Trials using mesh to cover the crops have shown an “astonishing” reduction in numbers of the insect, which delivers a damaging bacterium to the plant and tubers, causing major production losses. Not only does the mesh ward off the insects, it is about $1000 per hectare cheaper than chemicals, and increases yields by 12 per cent, so that gross margin profit rose between 27 to 75 per cent. “The economics are just amazing.  If this is not a stunning win for the New Zealand potato industry I don’t know what is,” Merfield, who is based at the Future Farming Centre at Lincoln University, said. “The result is utterly stunning, it is effectively complete control of potato psyllid. In comparison achieving complete control of any insect pest on crops with agrichemicals is nigh on impossible.  That this can be achieved with a non-chemical approach is even more heartening as it also addresses the spectre of insecticide resistance.” More

Applied research: Method to hit the bull’s eye on crop nutrient requirements

Researchers from Aarhus University have developed a method to match crop nitrogen requirements more precisely than ever before. The method can reduce agricultural nitrogen emissions and simultaneously optimise yield. Neither too much nor too little is often the best way to go. This is also the case with regard to nitrogen fertilisation of  – but how can you know exactly how much nitrogen a crop needs at a given growth stage in order to maximise yield? Researchers from Aarhus University have found a method that can answer this question. The method can determine crop nitrogen requirements with a precision of 10-20 kg N/ha. The method works by preparing a reference curve to determine when a crop is deficient in nitrogen. The reference curve is based on comparisons of data on leaf area with data on leaf reflectance at different light wavelengths. To develop the method, the researchers used potatoes as guinea pigs. More

Scottish potato growers continue to learn that ‘less is more’

AHDB says potato yields could be increased by reducing nitrogen top dressings. Picture: Johnston PressThe “less is more” lesson for tattie growers continues with the revelation that overall yields could be increased by reducing nitrogen top dressings by 25-30 kg a hectare. The message being given at the AHDB’s Strategic Potato open day at Meigle in Perthshire on fertiliser follows on from revelations earlier in the year from the project that by reducing tillage depth and doing away with the “recreational pastime” of bed tillage, growers could save costs and increase overall yields and the weight of the crop which packed out. Dr Mark Stalham from the National Institute of Agricultural Botany said that by reducing the amount of later nitrogen applied to the crop the plants were less likely to put so much into growing green foliage later into the season, allowing the crop to senesce naturally. More

Nottingham University and Pipers Crisps develop science of crisps

Pipers Crisps, one of Britain’s best-known crisp brands, set out to understand more about the science behind their premium products and processes and they turned to food experts at the University of Nottingham. The partnership gave Pipers direct access to the Food Flavour and Sensory Science Laboratories in the School of Biosciences and the specialist knowledge of PhD student, now Dr. Deepa Agarwal — an expert in food structure, flavor and product development. Inside the science labs, Dr. Agarwal used gas chromatography mass spectroscopy (GC/MS) to understand the flavor profile and stability of Pipers crisps. With the help of advanced statistical analysis tools, she optimized cooking temperatures and times to minimize waste, enhance shelf life without compromising taste perception. More

UK: Putting spuds on the SPot

Claire Hodge and Bruce Farms manager Kerr HowatsonSCOTLAND’S Strategic Potato Farm (SPot) is getting ready to reveal its full trials programme to the potato industry at its next Open Day. Organised via AHDB, the nationwide SPot Farms are intended to drive research into practice through the demonstration of cutting-edge techniques – appropriate to the region and market sector – in a commercial-scale growing environment. Bruce Farms in Perthshire joined the SPot network last year with an initial focus on cultivations, but 2017 has seen its work significantly expanded. AHDB knowledge exchange manager Claire Hodge explained: “We were able to launch SPot Farm Scotland a little early last year, which allowed us to carry out the initial cultivation trials. These threw up some exciting results which we will share with growers at the Open Day on Tuesday July 18. More

Researchers develop low cost sensor to detect rot in potato storage facilities

In Idaho, potatoes are both a humble stereotype and a half-billion dollar crop. According to the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, every spring farmers plant more than 320,000 acres of potatoes valued at between $550-$700 million. Yet unbeknownst to most consumers, roughly 30 percent of the potatoes harvested spoil before they reach a grocery store shelf. Boise State University researchers Harish Subbaraman, David Estrada and Yantian Hou hope to change that. In a recently awarded one-year $413,681 Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant, Boise State is collaborating with Idaho State University and industry partners Isaacs Hydropermutation Technologies, Inc (IHT) and Emerson to develop a wireless sensor network that would be able to detect temperature, humidity levels, and carbon dioxide and ammonia levels in real time, to help with early detection of rot.  Continue reading

Research: Potato virus X nanoparticles may fight cancer

Image result for potato virus x nanoparticles cancer researchResearchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in collaboration with researchers from Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine and RWTH Aachen University in Germany, have adapted virus particles—that normally infect potatoes—to serve as cancer drug delivery devices for mice. But in a recent article published in Nano Letters, the team showed injecting the virus particles alongside chemotherapy drugs, instead of packing the drugs inside, may provide an even more potent benefit. The researchers discovered that injecting potato virus X particles into melanoma tumor sites activates an anti-tumor immune system response. Simultaneously injecting the nanoscale plant virus particles and a chemotherapy drug—doxorubicin—into tumor sites further helps halt tumor progression in mice. The results are the first to show “vaccinating” mice with potato virus nanoparticles at a cancer site can generate an anti-tumor response. More

Research evaluates how ‘vadose zone’ affects runoff water

Image result for soil profileCody Ross, a member of the Watershed Systems Research Program at the University of Manitoba in Canada, is measuring water flow in a part of the soil called the vadose zone. Although the name might make you recall scary episodes of the “Twilight Zone,” the vadose zone is just the saturated level of soil right under the surface. It can be just a few centimeters to over a meter in depth. And the vadose zone is where important things happen in the soil. The vadose zone is complex. Within it, sand particles are huge in comparison to clay particles, affecting water flow. That’s why you can see water percolate through sand quickly on a beach. Healthy soils also have a good amount of organic matter from decaying plants or insects. Ross’ work is important because how water moves over, through, and around all those soil particles, organic matter, pores, microbes, and roots matters. More

UK: Potato farmers SPot the difference as AHDB’s cutting-edge techniques become commercial reality

Andrew Francis speaking at the SPot event at Elveden Estate.More than 120 farmers and agricultural professionals were at the Elveden Estate on Thursday, July 6, to look at how cutting-edge research was making a difference to its potato growing operation. The estate is one of four farms selected by farm levy-paying organisation AHDB Potatoes last year to become a Strategic Potato (SPot) farm where new techniques prove their worth by being taken out of the lab or the field trial and tried out on a commercial operation. The hope is that these will then be rolled out across UK potato farms, improving their productivity and performance. Thursday’s event was the first open day of the year at the 22,500 acre Suffolk estate, which lies in the East Anglian Brecks near Thetford. The SPot scheme started in 2015 with one site, which became three last year and increased to four this year. More

US: Study found 25 percent decline in potato acreage in significant growing region due to water problems

Image result for Washington State University logoA Washington State University study has found a 25 percent decline in potato acreage in a significant portion of land atop the Odessa Aquifer between 2005 and 2015, due primarily to a drop in both water quality and water quantity. This is important to Adams, Grant, Lincoln and Franklin counties because the alternatives to potato production – mainly dry-farm wheat – don’t provide anywhere the economic boost, or the jobs, that potatoes do, according to Matt Harris, director of government affairs for the Washington Potato Commission. “The decline is very alarming in itself,” Harris said. Despite the decline in acreage, the study says potato production in the region was still worth $116 million in 2015 and accounted for roughly 3,000 processing jobs – jobs that likely won’t exist if farmers have to replace potato growing with less water-intensive crops. More