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Transforming agriculture data collection with tailor-made tools

The International Potato Center (CIP) is working to improve data collection while driving down costs by  building tools that gather vital information without ever touching a plant. Driven to improve the quality of information, an innovative team at CIP has pushed themselves to build their own equipment designed to help them streamline the data captured. By studying the interaction between plants and incident light, scientists can investigate everything from how the changing…

Webcast: Seed Potato Certification

The Plant Management Network (PMN) has released a new presentation to help potato consultants, growers and other practitioners in Canada and the U.S. learn about the basics of seed potato certification. Seed certification provides assurance to growers that seed-borne potato diseases are kept under acceptable levels, and helps the industry consistently provide high quality products to consumers. The webcast, developed by Robert D. Davidson, professor and extension specialist at Colorado State University,…

New laser scanner to zap toxic french fries

Amid growing concern about the discovery of cancer-causing chemicals in potato chips and french fries, a young scientist at the University of Brussels has developed a new laser system that scans peeled potatoes in the factory to detect toxic compounds and prevent them from reaching the consumer. At present, raw potatoes that produce an excess of the carcinogenic chemical acrylamide cannot be detected in a fast, sensitive and non-destructive way. This new…

U.S. Researchers program drone to hunt PVY in potatoes

U.S. researchers say they’ve pinpointed individual spud plants infected with potato virus Y with 90 per cent accuracy, using hyperspectral cameras mounted on drones. Donna Delparte, an assistant professor of geosciences at Idaho State University, and graduate student Mike Griffel have successfully tested a “computer-learning” algorithm they developed to tease out PVY from spectral imaging “background noise,” such as field variability and unrelated crop stress. “Our premise was to look at all…

Spud-based research taking root at University of Lethbridge

Lab-based research gets underway Jan. 16 at the University of Lethbridge for the school’s new research chair in potato science. Dmytro Yevtushenk​o is a plant biologist who has studied potatoes for more than 25 years. He took up the new research chair position last January. “It’s a pleasure to work with potatoes. There’s so much information out there about potatoes,” said Yevtushenk​o. His first year was spent crafting new courses that will train the…

UAVs coming to a potato field near you

Agriculture is on the cusp of a game-changing leap forward in technology. Currently, most agricultural unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are used for the technologically simple task of remote digital photography But, government and private-sector scientists alike are proving UAVs can do much, much more for Canadian farming. “Soon, definitely less than a decade from now, using UAVs will be a common-place practice; just one more tool in the toolbox,” says Dan Clarke,…

Shortage of Canadians Working in Agriculture to Double by 2025

The gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce in agriculture has doubled from 30,000 to 59,000 in the past 10 years and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. This is a key finding of newly released Agriculture 2025: How the Sector’s Labour Challenges Will Shape its Future research by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC). The LMI research also revealed that…

Potato Growers Get Help to Fight with Late Blight Pathogen

The Plant Management Network (PMN) has released a new presentation entitled “Late Blight Management Under Semi-Arid Conditions” to help potato growers recognize pathogen hosts, favourable disease conditions, and utilize effective control practices. Late blight of potato can spread very quickly and has the potential to be extremely destructive if managed improperly, says Jeff Miller, president and CEO of Miller Research. The webcast, developed by Miller, outlines effective control practices and stresses the…

Using smartphones to battle pests

A new app has been designed to help growers of field crops identify and manage insects, pathogens and weeds. And there is potential for other crops to be included once work on the current setup is complete. Set to be officially released in 2018 on Android and iOS, the Mobile Integrated Pest Management (Mobile-IPM) app is a tool for Canadian farmers. It focuses on the major Canadian crops such as oilseeds, cereals…

Sorting the rocks from the spuds

Up until this fall, Alex Docherty, chairman of the PEI Potato Board and a potato farmer in Elmwood, P.E.I., would do what most potato farmers on the Island still do today — hire rock pickers. This year, he purchased a Spudnik AirSep Harvester, a piece of equipment instead that eliminates one of the more mundane tasks of the potato harvest — separating the rocks from the spuds. “It’s an incredible piece of equipment,”…

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