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Satellite technology could help ag producers measure soil moisture

Agricultural producers could, in the future, make use of better forecasts to more efficiently irrigate their fields using a Purdue-developed technology that could  more accurately sense soil moisture below the surface through measuring the reflections of  communication satellite signals. “The reflectivity of the surface is a function of the soil moisture, and that allows us to quantify the amount of moisture in the soil so, if necessary, growers can take corrective actions…

Webinar: Potatoes and water management

Register for Spud Smart’s webinar: Potatoes and Water Management, Thursday, May 18, 1 p.m. ET, 10 a.m. PT. Learn why water is the single most limiting factor in potato production Hear about ways to deal with a shortage or excess of Mother Nature’s most precious commodity Learn about new water management techniques Learn more and register  

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…

Building a better potato farm, one decision at a time

In every business, there are front-runners and there are followers. Motivated by passion and unafraid of learning, Kate Vander Zaag, and her husband Peter, have never been ones to sit back and wait for others to forge the path ahead. Farming together in Alliston, Ont. since 1990, they are fearless about investing their brainpower to constantly build a better farm. The Vander Zaags share flexible roles and responsibilities (Peter tends to handle…

New Potato Technologies

The Humigator Designed by Idaho-based Isaacs Hydropermutation Technologies Inc., the Humigator is a combination of a humidifier and a fumigator. While its primary function is to clean the air in potato storage sites, which helps stop the spread and lower the risk of disease, it also humidifies to higher levels than older technologies, which reduces loss due to shrinkage. Garry Isaacs, the creator of the Humigator, designed the first prototype in 1985…

IPM Training Module Launched

Positive comments are coming fast and furious for a new potato integrated pest management (IPM) training module recently launched by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). According to OMAFRA, “the module is a great educational tool with information for the common insect pests, diseases, viruses and disorders of potatoes in Ontario.” The creator of the module is Eugenia Banks, OMAFRA’s longtime potato specialist who retired in late 2015….

Convincing the Unconvinced on Precision Agriculture

Precision agriculture is cutting edge, high-tech and full of potential. At least some western Canadian potato farmers, however, see it as overwhelming, costly, frustrating, and/or difficult to implement. If you look past the hype and excitement surrounding precision agriculture, you’ll find a group of farmers who have tried it and quit, or who were turned off the concept before they ever started. Jeff Bronsch, an agronomic consultant in Taber, Alta., understands farmers…

Potato-Vegetable Growers Give $5 Million for UW-Research

Potato growers plan to give $5 million to University of Wisconsin-Madison during the next decade to conduct research for the industry. Members of the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) will pay for the new research with higher assessments on their product sales. Last summer, the industry increased its assessment by one penny for every 100 pounds of potatoes and vegetables produced , and the association’s board plans to raise it…

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…

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,…

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