Smart Farming

How to manage weeds in potato crops without diquat

There will be no room for complacency in potato weed control strategies in the UK this spring, as British growers embark on their first season without the popular broad-spectrum contact herbicide diquat. Up to now, weed control was pretty simple – many would plant, wait until weeds emerge and sometimes cover up to 40% of the crop, then apply a residual plus diquat mix. However, with diquat’s revocation in the UK, this “casual” approach to weed management in potato crops is no longer sustainable.

WPC Webinar on powdery scab now available online

The World Potato Congress offered its third Webinar in 2020 on March 18, featuring Dr Leah Tsror, titled ‘Powdery Scab – Integrated disease management for reducing the risk’. The focus of Dr Tsror’s presentation during the Webinar was on the epidemiology of the disease and the integrated management practices for reducing the risk of powdery scab.

Potato specialists provide guidelines on mitigating early planting risks

It’s really a very simple formula: increase the length of the growing season and increase the potential yield and profits from a potato crop. There isn’t much that can be done to avoid a season-ending frost sometime during the fall, so perhaps the most feasible way to extend the season is to plant the crop early, say potato specialists Mike Thornton and Nora Olsen at the University of Idaho. When making decisions on when to start planting, growers should be aware that there are also some substantial risks involved

What are farmers in England investing in to increase income?

Almost half of all farmers in the south-east and east of England have already invested in non-farming activities such as building lets and agro-tourism, as they seek to diversify their income sources, Farmers Weekly reports. The survey found almost one-third of farmers have already invested in things such as tourism and letting building, with another 15% expecting to do so in the next three years.

Washington State trial program: Helping potato growers diagnose seed-borne issues

A Washington state trial program highlights the seed-borne diseases impacting potato crops across the region. The Washington Commercial Potato Seed Lot Trial has been conducted for 56 years since 1961. This useful trial also helps individual growers diagnose seed-borne issues that occasionally show up in their crop. Prof Carrie Huffman Wohleb at Washington State University explains how it works in an article published by American Vegetable Grower magazine.

In India’s Assam state, potatoes are grown with no-tillage; growers receive post-harvest training

As farmers look to grow more food for their families and the marketplace, increasing production sustainably remains a consistent challenge. But a CIP project in Assam state in India has discovered an easy way to produce an annual crop of potatoes with no-tillage and very few additional inputs. For the first time in the State, a day-long training of post-harvest management of potato was recently conducted.

No diquat: How to plan potato planting for trouble-free crop desiccation

With the absence of desiccant diquat, British potato producers are being advised to pay careful attention to field layout, nitrogen management and blight control strategy before planting this spring, according to an article published in Farmers Weekly. Machinery manufacturers have reported a big increase in topper sales in recent months, suggesting that many growers and contractors are gearing up for this mechanical approach.

WPC Webinar – Dr. Leah Tsror on powdery scab

The World Potato Congress is extremely pleased to be offering its third webinar in 2020 on March 18, featuring Dr Leah Tsror. Dr Tsror is a Research Group Leader in the Department of Plant Pathology, Agricultural Research Organization, Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development in Israel. The focus of Dr Tsror’s presentation during the Webinar will be on the epidemiology of the disease and the integrated management practices for reducing the risk of powdery scab.

Research study shows universally positive effect of cover crops on soil microbiome

Only a fraction of conventional row crop farmers grow cover crops after harvest, but a new global analysis from the University of Illinois shows the practice can boost soil microbial abundance by 27%. The result adds to cover crops’ reputation for nitrogen loss reduction, weed suppression, erosion control, and more. Although soil microbial abundance is less easily observed, it is a hugely important metric in estimating soil health.

British potato growers advised to be patient and wait for the right conditions to start planting

It has been one of the wettest winters on record in Britain, with many parts of the country suffering damaging floods, says AHDB Potatoes in a recent article. “In wet areas planting may be many weeks away yet. Patience and risk mitigation now, can help prevent poor results come harvest,” says AHDB’s Graham Bannister. 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, according to Bannister.

Agriculture’s new apps: Precision innovation to feed the world

Precision weather tracking, ‘blood pressure monitoring’ for plants and complex nutrient analysis apps are now the must-have tools for modern farmers. With agriculture using 70% of the world’s?freshwater resources and severely degrading one third of the earth’s land through over-fertilisation, such innovations are vital. Video: Meet the Agricultural Scientists changing the way we are fed, one field at a time.

CIP and partners publish a ‘Manual for seed potato production using aeroponics’

The full title of this new book, authored by scientists working at CIP, INIAP, and CORPOICA in Latin America, is Manual for seed potato production using aeroponics. Ten years of experience in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Aeroponics is a technique for producing potato minitubers (corresponding to the pre-basic seed category) in formal seed systems. aeroponics is part of an integrated proposal of CIP and its partners to manage seed potato degeneration.

FarmBeats: Microsoft makes a play for the precision agriculture market

The global population is expected to increase by 2.2 billion by 2050, and the world’s farmers will have to grow about 70% more food than is now produced. If you ask Microsoft, the solution lies in technology, writes Kyle Wiggers in an article published in VentureBeat The tech giant’s FarmBeats program, which launched in preview late last year on Azure Marketplace, is a multi-year effort to bring robust data analytics to the agriculture sector.

Advice on how to prepare for seed handling and treatment

In a recent grower advisory notice, AHDB Potatoes in the UK says ‘it’s all in the bag’. The first step in preparing for seed handling and treatment is to estimate the likely period between delivery and planting – as this will determine which storage strategy to adopt. Upon delivery, it’s essential to inspect seed consignments for diseases and quality, and to make sure that what have been received indeed matches the order. Growers are reminded that it’s imperative that seed be stored in a CIPC-free environment.

Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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