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Public trust in Canada’s food system

“Very serious” – that’s how United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) general manager Kevin MacIsaac describes the issue of lost public trust in Canadian agriculture. “We have to approach this in the same way we would deal with issues of food safety and other key issues,” he says, “because it will eventually lead to declines in consumption of certain foods if people do not trust the source.” John Bareman, chair of the Canadian…

Fall Bedding

Fall bedding in potato fields allows for soil preparation work to be done when growers typically have more time and labour available to them. In this system, growers usually irrigate, broadcast fertilizer as needed, plow, and then form beds into which they plant the following spring. For this edition of Roundtable, Spud Smart asked the following five experts to weigh in on their experiences with fall bedding. Louis Claassen, a potato producer…

PEI Potato Industry Partners Launch Enhanced Agronomy Initiative

The Prince Edward Island Potato Board, Cavendish Farms, and the PEI Department of Agriculture and Fisheries have announced the creation of the Enhanced Agronomy Initiative. The Initiative has a goal of improving marketable yields of processing potatoes and profitability of potato growers in PEI while also improving environmental sustainability of the industry. To meet these goals, three working groups have been established, with membership of both farmers and industry resource personnel. These…

Potato Wastewater

Water availability and water quality are two issues that are gaining a lot of attention these days, and concerns have led to stricter agricultural water-use regulations in some provinces. In Ontario, for example, farmers will feel the impact of new phosphorus loading targets for Lake Erie that the federal government is expected to announce soon, as part of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between Canada and U.S. When tubers are moved…

Turning Potatoes into Biogas

Since its formation more than 90 years ago, one of the guiding principles of Surrey, B.C.-based Heppell’s Potato Corp. and its owners has been the fundamental belief that there is always a better way of doing things. So it was only natural three years ago that when partners Pete Schouten and Wes Heppell began looking for solutions to one of their biggest challenges — acquiring more agricultural land in British Columbia’s fertile…

Crop Rotations

The effect of sensible crop rotation on pest and pathogen populations in potato crops is coming under increasing scrutiny these days, and is a matter that most commercial farmers in Canada carefully consider when planning for the next cropping season. In fact, many growers regard crop rotation as a primary cornerstone of their sustainability strategies. In addition, studies in Canada, the United States and several European countries consistently confirm the importance of…

Wild Potato Cousins

The potato probably has more related wild species than any other crop. These wild relatives grow through much of the Americas, from the United States southwest through Central America and then along the South American Andes Mountains from Venezuela through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and northwest Argentina. They also occur in the lowlands of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and southern Brazil. Over millions of years, various wild potato species have adapted to…

Protecting Potato’s Heritage

The Andean region of Latin America has long been regarded as one of the most fertile and productive areas in the world when it comes to potato cultivation. The area is home to more than 4,000 varieties of native potatoes, some of which have existed since the time of the Incas. However, there is growing concern that this tuber biodiversity could be at risk as a result of several factors including the…

Integrated Pest Management

Pests in their many forms — rooted, winged or microscopic — are a problem for any potato grower. Eradicating weeds, bugs and diseases in a way that’s environmentally sustainable but also makes economic sense is a primary goal of using an Integrated Pest Management strategy. We posed the question of best management practices in IPM to three growers from across the country: Michel Camps of Alberta, P.E.I.’s Thomas Hamill and Eugene Antworth…

Next-Generation Sequencing

Soil is sometimes referred to as the last frontier because so little is known about the microscopic life that teems within it. What we do know is that a small handful of dirt typically contains thousands of tiny microorganisms, many of them still unidentified by science. Because the crops we grow and food we eat depend so heavily on the health of the soil, scientists around the world are working hard to…

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