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

Black dot a particular scourge of fresh market potato crops in GB this season

Black dot has been a particular scourge of fresh market crops this season, according AHDB Potatoes in the UK. Delayed harvesting has encouraged disease spread, increasing the crop’s exposure to infected soil and high levels of moisture. Here’s a reminder of why the problem has been so widespread. Black dot is a disease caused by Colletotrichum coccodes. There is evidence that microsclerotia (resting bodies) of the fungus can survive for many years in soil due, in part, to alternate hosts. It can infect weeds such as nettle, field bindweed and shepherd’s purse.  Survival is further enhanced by the presence of potato volunteers. Black dot can be both seed and soil-borne. Although seed-borne infection can cause disease in progeny tubers, soil inoculum poses a greater threat. Soil contamination is the main source of disease in a progeny crop. Disease risk should be based on evaluation of seed infection and, importantly, soil contamination for which a soil test is available. Black dot is commonly confused with silver scurf (Helminthosporium solani). More in the latest Storage Bulletin from AHDB

US: Grower due diligence important in control of newly emerged potato blackleg pathogen

A new blackleg pathogen, Dickeya dianthicola, emerged in the eastern U.S. in 2015. Since then researchers have been working to find ways to control the disease, as it causes significant yield loss in potato crops. While progress in terms of control methods has been slow, growers who have adapted suggested best management practices have contributed to the disease’s decline. While the disease’s decline could be attributed to weather conditions, which were mostly unfavorable to the its development, Gary Secor, professor of plant pathology at North Dakota State University, attributes the drop-off to seed lot testing and growers’ due diligence. “It is a bacterial disease, so we don’t have any really good chemicals that we can use to manage dickeya,” Secor said. Antibiotics were proposed as a possible solution, but Amy Charkowski, head of bioagricultural science and pest management at Colorado State University, says they’re really not an option since they’re very costly. More

Late sown potato crops could be vulnerable to blight

Related imageThe potato blight season has got underway in Great Britain with blight found on dumps in Kent. While such reports are not unusual at this time of year, it is important to be aware of the infection risk posed by cull potato piles, volunteers and solanaceous weeds, says Dr David Cooke of the James Hutton Institute. “Last year we had very early reports then it dried up and blight did not get started until July. But if it continues to be wet until planting, inoculum could stay active and that would be an issue.” Potato agronomist John Sarup says monitoring crops will be particularly important. He adds. “Start early and keep up with spraying. Start with something with early kickback containing cymoxanil. I would not be recommending fluazinam. More

Potato growers warned that new late blight strain requires fresh approach to control

Image result for New Blight Strain Requires Fresh Approach to ControlBlight control strategies will have to change this season if potato growers are to combat the spread of a new aggressive, fungicide-insensitive/ resistant strain of the disease, leading agronomy firm Hutchinsons in the UK says. The dark green 37_A2 form of Phytopthora infestans has quickly spread across Europe, reaching England two years ago when five cases were reported. Around 20 cases were officially recorded in 2017, mainly in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Kent, and more recently in Suffolk, but Hutchinsons root crop technical manager Darryl Shailes believes the actual figure could be higher and all crops no matter where they are grown are potentially at risk. The new strain is at least, if not more, aggressive than the dominant blue 13 and pink 6, but the crucial difference is that it appears equally aggressive on foliar and tuber blight, he warns. More

Biofertilizers 2018: Finally making inroads?

Related imageAlthough they may seem like newer entries into the agricultural marketplace, some of the products that are part of the biofertilizers sector have been around for a long time. “Considering some of these products have actually been around for over 20 years, we are just starting to recognize their potential,” observes Dr. Chris Underwood, Chemist and Product Development Manager for AgroLiquid. Of course, part of the reason could be because of some confusion as to what constitutes a biofertilizer vs. a biostimulant. According to most of the experts CropLife® magazine spoke with, biofertilizers are defined as microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi that can increase nutrient availability and utilization by plants. They are oftentimes referred to as a “sub-category” of biostimulants. “Common examples of biofertilizers include mycorrhizai fungi, rhizobium, and plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR),” says Jane Fife, Chief Science Officer for 3Bar Biologics. More

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

Hort expert informs on the importance of calcium for quality potato production

Factsheet: Role of Calcium in Potato Quality and ProductionIn a recently published factsheet, Professor Jiwan Palta from the Dept of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin, provides growers with an overview of the role that calcium plays in potato development and tuber health. Palta was the recipient of the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association Researcher of the Year Award for 2016, and has been studying the role of calcium in potato production for many years. Some of the benefits of calcium application that he highlights, are: reduced storage rot; reduced incidences of internal defects, including hollow heart, brown spots, black spot bruise; reduced impact of heat and cold stresses on plant and reduced incidence of internal heat necrosis of tubers; as well as improved seed piece quality and sprout health (more robust plant). The factsheet was compiled in collaboration with Ryan Barratt at the Prince Edward Island Potato Board in Canada – go here to download it as a pdf file

Wisconsin’s ‘Healthy Grown’ potato program advances growers’ use of bio-intensive IPM

Image result for Wisconsin Healthy Grown Potato ProgramWisconsin’s “Healthy Grown” potato program has been thriving in advancing innovative, ecologically sound production systems and currently, around 8000 acres of fresh market potatoes are grown under stringent environmental protocols. “Healthy Grown” works to advance growers’ use of biointensive IPM, reduce reliance on high-risk pesticides, and to enhance ecosystem conservation efforts through the high-bar, sustainable potato and vegetable standards. In a series of videos published on YouTube, the process and background of the development of “Healthy Grown” are described, as well as improvements for the program. Contact Deana Knuteson (dknuteson@wisc.edu) for more details. Go here to watch the three short videos on YouTube

Focus on Soil: World renowned soil ecologist explains the life-giving link between carbon and healthy topsoil

Image result for soilTo the pressing worldwide challenge of restoring soil carbon and rebuilding topsoil, the Australian soil ecologist Dr. Christine Jones offers an accessible, revolutionary perspective for improving landscape health and farm productivity. For several decades, Jones has helped innovative farmers and ranchers implement regenerative agricultural systems that provide remarkable benefits for biodiversity, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, water management, and productivity.  During an interview by Tracy Frisch of Acres U.S.A Magazine, Jones said that people have for long confused the weathering of rock, which is a very, very slow process, with the building of topsoil, which is altogether different. Most of the ingredients for new topsoil come from the atmosphere — carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. “The issue we’re facing is that too much of the carbon that was once in a solid phase in the soil has become a gas. That could be dangerous for the human species. Climate change is just one aspect. Food security, the nutrient density of food and the water-holding capacity of the soil are also very potent reasons for keeping carbon in a solid phase in the soil.” More

Soil your undies: ‘Healthy soil will eat your underwear if you plant it’

Related imageHow healthy is your soil? If you want to know all you have to do is bury your underwear, says Canada’s Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) soil management specialist Adam Hayes. Last summer, Hayes helped members of a crop improvement association bury underwear in their fields to determine the amount of biological activity in their soils. They buried cotton briefs six to eight inches deep in the soil in late May and then dug them up in early August. In this interview, recorded this week at the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association annual meeting in London, Hayes explains that healthy soils teeming with bacteria, fungi and earthworms will eat and devour your cotton briefs, but they suffer much less damage in soils with lower levels of biological activity. Hayes encourages farmers to bury underwear in their fields to assess soil health. He recommends farmers watch the Soil Your Undies Cotton Test video produced by the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario for tips on how to run the experiment on their farm. Related: What Underwear Can or Cannot Tell You About Soil Health

Late planting: ‘Patience now can result in better potato yields,’ experts in Great Britain say

Image result for potato planting wet soilAfter watching it rain for six weeks, as your expected planting dates disappear behind you, it can be tempting to jump on the planter at the first break in the weather. Patience and risk mitigation now, can help prevent poor results come harvest – says AHDB’s Claire Hodge.​ The key message is not to panic, waiting a few days and planting in the right conditions is often better than ‘losing’ a couple of days growing time. In an article published today on the website of AHDB Potatoes, some of the key risks associated with the timing of planting are described, highlighting some resources available to potato growers in Great Britain to help manage these risks. Planting in wet conditions can lead to yield losses larger than that you would experience from delayed planting, Mark Stalham of NIAB CUF says. “Serious yield loss due to late planting only really starts occurring after 7 May in England for a Group 3 determinancy variety. With longer daylight hours in Scotland, this may even be a few days later. The risks are associated with delayed emergence and the crop not reaching full cover by the longest day of the year.” More

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

Factsheet: Best management practices to minimize the spread of PVY

Related imageThis factsheet is based on recent research done in Canada by Dr. Mathuresh Singh and his team in New Brunswick on PVY, which just concluded in March.  This research has been very successful in identifying which production practices are most associated with reducing the spread of PVY.  At the same time, PVY post-harvest test results in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have improved significantly in recent years, as these best practices are being more widely adopted. The factsheet was compiled by Ryan Barrett, Research & Agronomy Coordinator at the Prince Edward Island Potato Board, and published on the Peipotatoagronomy.com website. The document can be accessed here as a pdf file.