Bayer launches digital farming solution for field crops

Image result for bayer potatoBayer has launched its xarvio Field Manager in five countries – Germany, France, Austria, Poland, and Ukraine. The new digital solution is for now available in field crops such as potato, wheat, barley, sugar beet and oilseed rape. Further expansion to other crops and countries is expected in the coming months. Field Manager will support European farmers in growing healthy crops by providing recommendations about the right dosage, timing and place of crop protection applicaton. With its digital solutions, Bayer is paving the way for a new agriculture revolution that makes farming more precise, efficient and sustainable. “xarvio Field Manager will enable farmers to be more pro-active in managing their crops and be a step ahead of pests and diseases,” says Andree-Georg Girg, Head of Commercial Operations Digital Farming at Bayer.  Continue reading

Embracing technology key to Australian potato grower’s success

Image result for Scott Rockliff Australian potato growerScott Rockliff knows a thing or two about potato growing. For six generations, the Rockliff family has been growing potatoes along the north-west coast of Tasmania in Sassafras, a 200-year old town renowned for its food and wine production. A lot has changed since Scott Rockliff’s ancestors established the original farm in the 1800s. Nowadays, innovation is a must – understanding the latest in technology required for potato growing and thinking outside the square to produce a consistent crop is essential. Scott says the biggest issue potato growers have faced over the years is that the earnings from their product have stagnated. In an attempt to combat this challenge, Scott has embraced technology on his farm. He added that it was important to not only embrace tractors and ground working equipment but other larger inventions such as the Robot for Intelligent Perception and Precision Application (RIPPA), which the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics developed for weed management in the vegetable industry. Experimenting with equipment and building on-farm machinery are activities that Scott enjoys. Read the full article on p20 of the latest Potatoes Australia magazine

Weed control goes digital: Advanced spot-spraying precision technology in development

Weed scientist Andrew McKenzie-Gopsill with digital camera, sensor and controller mechanism that can be  mounted on a sprayer and tractor to read crop plant locations.Researchers are combining new digital tools, computer technologies and machine learning to bring cost-effective weed control solutions to the field. This weed control solution is being designed as an advanced spot-spraying precision technology that will help farmers reduce input costs and add another management tool to their integrated management systems. “We are developing a high-tech ground-based sensor technology as another cost-effective precision agriculture tool for weed control in potatoes and other crops,” says Andrew McKenzie-Gopsill, weed scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Prince Edward Island. This five-year project was initiated in 2017 and is still in the early stages of data collection. The whole control system would be mounted to an existing sprayer, including a small inexpensive camera mounted above the canopy, and a mini computer to connect to the sprayer control system to control which nozzles are turned on or off. More

Hi-tech: New imaging technology to spot diseases and infestations at an earlier stage

The expected benefits of adopting the equipment could have a significant impact on overall crop yieldA new type of imaging system for use in agriculture, designed to be far less expensive than existing technology and to increase crop yield, is being developed in the UK. Academics and the farming industry have teamed up to develop a new type of hyperspectral imaging (HSI) system. The UK government-funded collaboration has the potential to introduce an affordable spectral imaging technology to help agricultural businesses monitor and maximise crop production in fields and greenhouses. The sensors in development are expected to be up to 90% cheaper than equivalent equipment currently on the market. It is anticipated that adopting the technology will allow farmers to monitor various crop attributes including plant health, hydration levels and disease indicators. As a result, it is envisaged that farmers will be able to: optimise the impact of fertilisation; save water by employing more efficient irrigation methods; and, critically, spot diseases and infestations at an earlier stage, allowing them to avoid blights. Report by FarmingUK

Trending: Biostimulants gaining ground

Related imageConsumers have stepped up their demand for food produced more sustainably, with fewer “hard” chemicals and more compounds from nature. Biostimulants are helping increasing numbers of growers answer that call. “Growers are embracing these products rapidly as they search for ‘greener’ options to produce their crops,” says Rad Page, Chief Commercial Officer for PlantResponse. “They’re also demanding that these products have solid science behind them and produce a consistent return on their investment. We think these expectations are driving the increased investment and innovation in this market segment.” The global biostimulant market is currently valued at approximately $2 billion, reports Dr. John Bailey, National Row Crops Product Manager with Timac Agro USA. “Europe has the largest share at around 45%, North America and Asia have approximately 20% each, and Latin America comes in at around 15%.” Many in the industry believe there is a lack of understanding of what these products do.  Continue reading

Spore sampling project to alert growers of disease threat

A University of Idaho-led research team plans to start giving their state’s potato growers advanced warnings this season about the arrival of fungal pathogens, using a broad network of airborne spore samplers. Last summer, James Woodhall, the project’s lead and a University of Idaho (UI) assistant professor of plant pathology, and his colleagues evaluated samples collected by three spore samplers, based at their Parma, Kimberly and Aberdeen Extension centers, to prove the concept. This growing season, Woodhall said they’ll operate 14 samplers, stationed both at the UI facilities and near commercial potato fields spread from Parma through Tetonia. Woodhall intends to alert growers – initially via an email list and eventually by posting results on a special website – within a day of confirming the arrival of harmful potato pathogens including late blight, early blight, white mold, gray mold and brown spot. “It’s proven technology,” Woodhall said. “They’ve had success with this in Canada for late blight detection.” More

TNA inaugurates new potato processing equipment facility in the Netherlands

TNA inaugurates new potato processing facilityTNA has officially opened a brand new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the Netherlands, further reinforcing its position as a leading manufacturer of food processing equipment for the potato and vegetable processing industries. Located in Woerden, 30 kilometres outside of Amsterdam, TNA Netherlands Manufacturing will be dedicated to TNA’s cutting edge processing equipment, including its range of fryers and freezers, but also pre-processing equipment such as peelers, washers and dryers. The facility will also incorporate an expanded ‘Food Technology Testing Centre, ’ which will show clients how TNA’s food processing equipment operates in a fully-operational factory setting. With a total area of 3,600 m2, the new facility will allow TNA to increase its production capacities to better respond to the growing demand for its wide range of solutions. More

China aims to be first nation to grow potatoes and silkworm on the Moon

The Soviet Republic was the first country to send a man into outer space. The US landed the first man on the Moon. Now, China wants to check its first as well: they want to grow plants, including potatoes, and silkworm on the Moon. According to a recent announcement, seeds of potatoes and Arabidopsis — a small flowering plant related to cabbage and mustard, often used in research — will be planted on the Moon. Along with silkworm cocoons, the seeds will be launched with the Chang’e-4 moon lander and rover. China’s first probe to the far side of the Moon is currently scheduled for December. The seeds will be placed inside a cylindrical tin made from a special aluminum alloy. The tin is 18 cm tall, with a diameter of 16 cm, a net volume of 0.8 liters and a weight of 3 kilograms. It also contains water, air, and a special nutrient mixture, as well as a camera and a data transmission system. If everything goes according to plan, the seeds will be planted, they will grow and blossom and the entire process will be captured on camera. (Source: ZME Science)

Not snake oil any longer: The case of new generation nitrogen products for potatoes

Some experts say nitrogen is the most used but least understood input on potato crops. Novel forms of fertiliser have often been dismissed as snake oil, but now a new generation of products have been developed, created by scientists and led by the physiology of the potato crop. From a scientific point of view, fertiliser technology is still very much in its infancy. The forms currently widely used today have been adopted because they’re easy to source in large quantities. They’ve been designed by chemists rather than biologists and haven’t had the crop’s physiology in mind. As a result, fertiliser uptake by plants is an inefficient process, with rates of recovery for nitrogen fertilisers in the region of 25-35%. But the tide is turning. Fertiliser technologies are now being developed that are physiologically-led and underpinned by sound, peer-reviewed scientific research. Dr David Marks, managing director of Levity Crop Science, explains why these products are better and can help achieve a higher marketable yield of potatoes. Read this in-depth article on the CPM website

Investments boost productivity at Australian seed potato producer

GAINS: Agronico harvested 4,000 tonnes of seed potato. Picture: SuppliedJust a month into harvest and Australia’s biggest potato seed producer, Agronico, is reaping the benefits of recent investments through a 30 per cent increase in productivity. Agronico has invested heavily in its business over the past 12 months through its new coolstore at Spreyton and adding a four-row planter, canopied hoppers and twin-row harvesters to its fleet, chief executive Robert Graham said. “In the first three weeks 4,000 tonnes of seed potato were harvested with minimum downtime from rain, productivity has increased each year, but this is the best result so far,” he said. “At each stage of the process our efficiency is improving; harvest is quicker because of a combination of factors.” Agronico will continue to invest in infrastructure to support its capabilities. (Source: The Advocate)

Second-generation Grimme potato harvester sets the standard

Related imageGrimme launched its 4-row self-propelled Varitron potato harvester in 2011 and now a second-generation machine with 435hp, rubber tracks and a 7-tonne non-stop bunker as standard. The family-owned company manufactures in a purpose-built factory in Rieste, Germany. The Varitron 470 Platinum Terra Trac meets the latest Tier 4 Final emissions levels and is available with a row width of 750 or 900mm. A high priority in the new model was to improve the driver comfort, achieved via the new ErgoDrive operating concept to allow intuitive control and easy access to all functions. The operator can save individual and field-specific settings that can also be stored and retrieved for future use. 

Continue reading

Canadian govt invests in robotic technology for potato packing operation

Equipment Upgrade Potato Packing Plant Patates Dolbec in Quebec receives government supportYesterday, a delegation of the Canadian federal agriculture department visited Patates Dolbec’s potato packaging facility in Quebec which has just completed an expansion and modernization project. This project, supported with a federal government investment of up to $4.5 million, includes the purchase and installation of new robotic equipment that will sort, grade, and pack more fresh potatoes in less time, enabling the company to improve their product quality, lower operational costs and develop new markets in the United States. The upgrade represents a total of $12 million. According to Jean-Claude Poissant, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, investing in innovation will enable Patates Dolbec to grow sales and demand for Quebec-grown potatoes all around the world, helping to build a strong and prosperous agriculture and agri-food sector.  Continue reading

Drones show promise spotting PVY in potato fields

Image result for Drones potato fieldDonna Delparte, assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at Idaho State University (ISU) in Pocatello, is working on using an unmanned aerial vehicle to spot PVY infected plants in potato fields and to record their specific locations for later control measures. In short, she says the technology works, but while it’s getting closer to being ready for the market, a few challenges still exist. Using a special camera, it is possible to fly a drone over a field and, within a reasonable level of certainty, determine precise locations of plants that are infected by PVY. Delparte’s team created a profile of what an infected plant looks like when seen through a special camera, called a hyperspectral camera, which scans dozens of slices of radiation, well beyond what a human eye can see. They then took that profile to the field, used it to identify infected plants and ground-truthed it using personnel on the ground, who verified which plants were infected. Using machine learning to tune the algorithm that evaluated the plants, the team reached an 89.8 percent success rate. More

Potato farm with Michigan roots reaching across continents

Image result for Potato Farm With Northern Michigan Roots Reaching Across ContinentsSixty percent of the potato chips made in the United States come from potatoes grown in Northern Michigan. It all starts at the Sklarczyk Seed Potato Farm, located in Michigan. “The greenhouse operation is something my father started in the early 80’s and my father grew up on the diversified farming operation and he was looking for a way to make a batter potato and that led him to the tissue culture lab and the greenhouse operation and it’s grown and evolved from there,” said CEO of Sklarczyk Seed Farm, Ben Sklarczyk. Once the Sklarczyk family perfected the potato – it was time to perfect the technology they use. “Now our facility is 100% hydroponics so we are growing our potatoes without the presence of soil,” he explained. It allows them to check in on the potatoes regularly since they’re not buried in the soil. “The process starts with the tissue culture lab on the cutting process and at that point we will get plants from different plant breeders from different universities throughout the United States,” he said. Read report and watch video

Yara’s N-Sensor: A tool that twins science with sense

N-Sensor - The tool that twins science with senseThere are two aspects, you could argue, that define the real cutting-edge technological advances in today’s agricultural equipment – tools that generate vast arrays of utilisable data, and kit that has the capability to use this information and make decisions in real time that are even better than those made by a skilled operator or agronomist. But there’s one tool that’s been combining both these aspects for almost 20 years – Yara’s N-Sensor. “The N-Sensor sets the fundamental benchmark for measuring nitrogen uptake by a crop,” says Clive Blacker of Precision Decisions, who’s worked with the technology since it first came to the UK. “The primary determinant of the correct amount of N to apply is how much is already in the canopy – if you don’t know that, how can you judge how much to put on?” “The hardware is almost irrelevant,” comments Yara’s Mark Tucker, who joined the company in 2002 to develop the N-Sensor’s application. “It’s the algorithms within the software that make the N-Sensor what it is. More