‘Rooted apical cuttings’: Promising technology with potential to boost quality potato seed production

Seed potato farmers in Kenya’s potato growing regions are adopting promising technology with potential to boost quality seed availability. The farmers are using rooted apical cuttings as starter material for seed production as opposed to certified seed. The cuttings technology has been introduced in Kenya by the International Potato Center (CIP) under a programme funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). A cutting is similar to a nursery-grown seedling, except that it is produced through vegetative means and does not originate from a seed. Cuttings are produced from tissue culture plantlets in the screen house, rather than minitubers, and after rooting, are planted in the field. Each cutting produces 7 to 10, and up to 15+ tubers which are multiplied a further season or two, then the harvest is used and/or sold as seed. This means that the seed that farmers buy is equivalent to basic or ‘certified one’ seed in seed certification systems, and will produce high yielding crops. Currently the technology targets seed multipliers, but expanding to ware farmers. Continue reading

‘Chip[s] board’ – An eco-friendly alternative to medium-density fibreboard made from potato peelings

Image result for chipsboardTwo Kingston University graduates in the UK have created an environmentally friendly, sustainable and biodegradable alternative to medium-density fibreboard (MDF), and the product was produced from potato peelings. Graduates Rob Nicol and Rowan Minkley are the team behind Chip[sBoard® – a potato-based product turning food waste material from restaurants into a robust ready-to-use chipboard-like sheet. “Unlike its resin based counterparts, Chip[sBoard® is biodegradable post-use and doesn’t contain formaldehyde or any other toxic resins and chemicals”, according to a dedicated website for the product. The environmentally friendly product is strong enough to construct temporary structures designed to last more than a month. “We have some samples that are over a year old now – It lasts as a material without degrading,” Rowan explained. More

Chep pooled pallets gives Albert Bartlett environmental edge

Chep pooled pallets gives potato supplier environmental edgeLeading potato supplier, Albert Bartlett, is enjoying significant environmental savings within its supply chain thanks to the use of Chep’s pooled pallets. The Scottish potato company supplies own label and branded lines of potatoes to retail, wholesale, food service and processing customers, and recently signed a three-year contract renewal with Chep, an international company dealing in pallet and container pooling services. Russell White, Head of Operations, said: “The savings that we’re able to realise through the use of Chep’s pooling model are fantastic. It feels like we are making a real difference, working together to minimise the impact our supply chain is having on the environment.” Chep UK & Ireland Managing Director Helen Lane: “Environmental sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Chep. 100% of our timber now comes from forests certified as sustainable. Our pallets are continually repaired, reused and shared, and because they are made to a higher standard than white wood pallets, they last up to 10-times longer.” More

US: International Crop Expo returns

The International Crop Expo began 17 years ago and the event returns Feb. 21-22 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. Roughly 4,000 people and 170 exhibitors are expected to attend. It begins at 9 a.m. both days and ends at 5 p.m Feb. 21 and 4 p.m. Feb. 22. Admission and parking are free. “We think there’s a lot of good speakers and good information again this year,” said Lionel Olson, an agronomist with Integrated Ag Services in Northwood, N.D. who has helped to manage the show for many years. The Crop Expo — created by the combination of events hosted individually by small grains, potato and soybean groups after the Alerus Center opened — will again host educational sessions geared specifically to spuds, small grains and soybeans/dry beans. More

Drones show promise spotting pests in potatoes

Image result for drone agricultureIn the April 2016 issue of Spudman magazine, Donna Delparte, assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at Idaho State University (ISU) in Pocatello, spoke about her research into using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, for pest management in potatoes. “They are very much the future, especially when we’re working on trying to expand the technology and look at new and novel ways to use UAV, such as crop-invasive species,” Delparte said. Recently, at this year’s Idaho Potato Conference in Pocatello, Jan. 16-18, Delparte gave growers an update on the status of her work, specifically on using an unmanned aerial vehicle to spot PVY infected plants and to record their specific locations for later control measures. In short, the technology works, but while it’s getting closer to being ready for the market, a few challenges still exist. Delparte said her team is conducting more trials and looking at building their own camera that could detect PVY but not carry the $50,000 price tag that a full, hyperspectral camera does. More

Award winning soil moisture meter said to be a ‘must-have’ for potato growers

TDR350 in potato field.Spectrum Technologies, Inc., based in Illinois in the US, brings soil measurement technology to potato farmers with the FieldScout® TDR350. The TDR350 is a highly relevant tool every potato farmer can find useful and affordable in working toward optimal soil management.  “The TDR350 provides farmers with an objective and consistent way to measure soil moisture, and to determine the best strategy for irrigation tillage, fertilizer application and planting operations,” says Mike Thurow, President & CEO of Spectrum Technologies. The TDR350 allows potato farmers to easily and rapidly take measurements in various soil environments with increased accuracy to capture soil Volumetric Water Content (VWC), Electrical Conductivity (EC), and surface temperature. The large capacity data logger can record approximately 50,000 measurements with GPS coordinates. Continue reading

US: Company on cutting edge of protecting stored potatoes with ‘humigator’ technology

IHT is Small Business Development Center Success StoryIn 1985, Garry Isaacs invented a piece of equipment he called a humigator. He patented it and started a company in Blackfoot six years ago called Idaho Hydro Tech (IHT) to manufacture it. The name is a combination of fumigator and humidifier, which describes the two functions of the invention. Three years ago he retired and his son, Blake took over. Isaacs is proud of the capabilities of his father’s invention, especially its ability to remove potato pathogens from the air using only water and physics. “We can remove 350 million mold spores and four trillion bacteria per gallon of water collected,” he explained. The humigator uses a patented “venturi scrubber” to remove mold spores and bacteria from the air inside a potato storage facility without the use of physical filters or chemicals. It does this while maintaining humidity inside the storage facility. The patented process used by the humigator depends solely on the physics of water and air inside the venturi scrubber. More

New smart sensor technology to be unveiled at Fruit Logistica event

As a provider of smart sensor technology for producers and processers of fruit, vegetables and more in the food industry, Canadian based aaggrrii’s SmartSpud and ProduceQC solutions help resolve quality issues in fragile produce by pinpointing damage areas in real time. aaggrrii, a division of Masitek Instruments Inc., will be displaying the updated sensors at the Fruit Logistica Exhibition in Berlin, Germany from February 7-9, 2018. SmartSpud and ProduceQC are water and heat resistant acrylic replicas of the actual produce being worked with (such as potatoes), that deliver real-time data to a preloaded tablet, showing an operator a measure of the impact that a crop receives and exactly where the impact happens. The products have reduced damage by as much as 50% starting within minutes of use. The updated technology offers a vastly enhanced sampling rate and Bluetooth beacons to support wireless tracking. In addition to a new client portal and tablet interface, the solution also supports photo capture integration. Full report in English. Report in Dutch

Duravant to acquire sorting and conveying company Key Technology

Engineered Equipment Manufacturer Duravant to acquire Key TechnologyMaterial handling and processing specialist Duravant announced today that it has agreed to acquire Key Technology, which makes digital sorting, inspecting and conveying equipment for the food industry, in a deal worth approximately $175 million. Key Technology’s portfolio includes highly intelligent optical inspection and digital sorting systems, vibratory conveying systems, and process and preparation systems. As well as headquarters in Walla Walla, Washington State, the company has facilities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and Mexico. Key Technology’s potato processing equipment includes optical inspection systems, laser sorters, sizing, grading, and packaging conveyors, and unique Automatic Defect Removal (ADR®) systems. Duravant said the transaction would “bring together two global engineered equipment leaders” and “significantly extends Duravant’s reach across food processing with new complementary products and applications”. Press release 

Scientists create potato starch paint as petroleum-free alternative

Researchers in Germany have derived film formers for paint using potato starch. Although there has been numerous attempts to use “organic” components as a base for paint, none have proved to be at par with industry standards. This step from the science community at Fraunhofer has allowed us to have an insight towards creating true “natural” coating products that leaves no bad effects to the environment. Diminishing resources, climate issues, and the health of the environment have all been taken into account in the creation of this research paper. Previously, paint binders made with bio-based ingredients were very expensive and mostly sub-standard. That’s why the research team created a modified starch to counter those issues. The potato starch-based paint proves to be both cost-efficient and sustainable at the same time. More

Project to improve forecasting of UK’s most damaging potato disease

The project aims to improve forecasting of the UK's most important potato pest - potato cyst nematodesA collaborative project has been announced to improve forecasting of UK’s most important potato pest. A team of researchers aim to improve the accuracy of a calculator which is used as a forecasting tool for growers to predict potato cyst nematode (PCN). To help growers to formulate control strategies, AHDB Potatoes created the ‘PCN Calculator’ for the most troublesome species, Globodera pallida. The calculator enables PCN population dynamics and potato yields to be forecast for different potato varieties grown under a range of conditions and control strategies. It’s therefore useful to help growers to investigate their options before growing a crop so that they can achieve sustainable economic returns. More

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Tong Engineering appoints new dealer for Scotland

Equipment manufacturer Tong Engineering appoints new dealer for ScotlandPotato and vegetable handling equipment manufacturer Tong Engineering announced that it has appointed ScanStone potato systems as the company’s new approved dealer for Scotland. Tong Engineering has confirmed its partnership with ScanStone in order to strengthen its relationship with potato and vegetable growers throughout Scotland.
Located just outside Forfar, Angus, ScanStone is a family-owned and operated business, designing and manufacturing a wide range of soil preparation equipment, built for UK and export markets. The new Tong dealership at ScanStone will cover sales, service and spares for Tong’s complete range of potato and vegetable handling equipment including advanced grading, cleaning, washing, polishing and box handling systems for seed and main crop potatoes and vegetables. Press release