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Revolutionizing with CRISPR

By Alex Martin There are plenty of buzzwords surrounding the seed industry in 2018 — GMOs, gene-editing, organic and, of course, CRISPR. While we know a lot surrounding the debate of GMOs versus organic and whether or not GMOs and gene-editing overlap, one gene-editing technology still seems a mystery. So, what exactly is CRISPR-Cas9, and why does it matter to the seed industry? CRISPR is a genome editing system that could benefit…

Potato Breeding: A European Approach, Part I

Of the top 10 food crops in the world, potato comes third, and is the No. 1 non-grain food product. Originally grown in the Andes, the Spanish introduced the potato to Europe in the 16th century, and, after a bumpy start, potatoes have been a very popular food source over the past two centuries. The potato is a healthy, low-calorie, high-fibre food that offers significant protection from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Additionally,…

Breaking the Fall

Two years ago, Maritimer Pete Nieuwhof was contemplating ways to speed up packing of his farm’s fresh potato harvest. He found his answer with the EZ-Down, an ingenious device invented by a pair of fellow P.E.I. potato growers. “At the time, we were looking for something to speed up our production a little bit. We had an old homemade machine on the line. It was working well, but we wanted to upgrade so…

New and Improved Potato Scanning and Handling Systems

Any technology that helps maximize profit and minimize waste is welcome in agriculture, and potato farming is no exception. There are some recent updates on new and established scanning and handling systems now available or soon to be marketed. You have likely heard about the SmartSpud, a revolutionary Canadian device produced by Masitek Instruments of Moncton, N.B., that travels through potato equipment from harvester to packaging, mimicking a real potato. It provides…

Innovative Approach to Breeding Could Mean Higher Yields and Better Crops

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Albany, California, have found a way to streamline the process that scientists use to insert multiple genes into a crop plant, developing a reliable method that will make it easier to breed a variety of crops with vastly improved traits. The technology is expected to speed up the process for developing new varieties of potatoes, rice, citrus and other crops that are better equipped to tolerate…

Remote Sensing: The technology, current use and future outlook

Remote sensing in potatoes is being actively investigated for its value in ensuring a high-yielding, healthy crop. Although in its relatively early stages in Canada, data collection through remote means and the related data analysis is developing at a swift pace. In this edition of Roundtable, Spud Smart gathered experts to report on the remote sensing tech being used in potatoes, the present value of the information collected and where the future…

NSERC funds UPEI research into potato input technologies

The development of new technologies and systems for the application of potato production inputs has received a funding boost at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI). The National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has awarded Dr. Aitazaz Farooque, an assistant professor at UPEI’s School of Sustainable Design Engineering a Discovery Grant and Discovery Accelerator Supplement. Farooque’s research — Development of Precision Agriculture Technologies to Improve Crop Productivity and…

The Next Level of Weed Control

As anyone in the ag sector well knows, new technologies are quickly revolutionizing farming, automating processes in major ways to make them more efficient, less costly and more environmentally-friendly. Weed control is one of those processes. Several companies and academic groups around the world have developed systems that enable more precise herbicide application through taking large numbers of images of a field using cameras on drones. The images are then amalgamated together…

From muddy spud to the perfect French fry: Information experts are optimizing potato production

Modern potato harvesting can be a pretty rough business. In years gone by, the farmers would be out in the fields assisted by friends and family carefully digging up the potato crop by hand. Today, mechanical harvesters are in use. But if the machinery is not adjusted correctly, the potatoes can get badly bumped and knocked as they move along the agitator belts, hitting stones and each other on their way. This…

Potato weed control goes digital

Some new high tech tools will soon give farmers a way to keep weeds down, cut costs and herbicide use dramatically and work around weed resistance to herbicides. In collaboration with a University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) engineer, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) weed specialist Andrew McKenzie-Gopsill is turning to sensors, cameras and computer algorithms to detect the exact location of weeds in a field. The digital technology will create a…

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