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World Review

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 New Zealand

“CropLogic” is an online decision support system developed by researchers at the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research. The system, which has been in use in Australia and New Zealand since 2010, helps potato farmers achieve the optimal mix of irrigation and nitrogen, and also predicts crop yield and harvest date. Growers using the system receive a daily report on their crops and agronomy-related advice on what they can do each day to improve crop yield. CropLogic’s predictions are based on the growth stages of potato plants, but weather and soil type are also taken into account, as well as the potato variety and the amount of water the plant will need and when. CropLogic helps growers to identify anticipated crop needs in advance so they can prepare to meet these needs, unlike traditional leaf analyses or soil moisture monitoring, which provide information after an event. Nitrogen cost savings of 20 per cent or more have been achieved by some CropLogic users.

CropLogic, which incorporates knowledge gained in the course of over 30 years of crop and food sector research, is seen by some processors as a way of proving to interested stakeholders that they spread only the same amount of fertilizer that the crop takes out of the soil. Growers and processors want a degree of certainty regarding expected yield, and the system acts as a way to mitigate risk. Now, CropLogic’s aim is to crack the U.S. market. About 11,000 hectares of potatoes are grown in New Zealand, while three times that amount is grown in Australia and 100 times that amount is grown in the United States.

Source: Fairfax

 Peru

Peru produces 26.6 per cent of all potatoes in South America, ranking as the largest producer in the region ahead of Brazil (25.1 per cent), Colombia (14.8 per cent) and Argentina (14.0 per cent), according to a report issued by consulting company Maximize. In contrast, total Peruvian production represents only 1.2 per cent of total global potato production, much less than the world’s largest producers—namely, China (21.1 per cent), India (11.3 per cent) and Russia (6.5 per cent). Peruvian potato production and consumption has increased at a steady pace in recent years. Between 2004 and 2011, production increased from three to four million metric tonnes, equivalent to an annual average growth rate of 3.3 per cent. Per capita consumption increased from 67 to 83 kilograms (8.9 per cent growth) in the same period, and total area planted has increased from 271.9 to 317.9 thousand hectares, equivalent to an annual rise of 2.6 per cent. The average yield increased from 14.5 to 17.8 metric tonnes per ha (a 2.6 per cent growth). The government aims to achieve a per capita consumption of 90 kg by 2014. To achieve this objective, public and private sectors are actively developing campaigns to promote potato consumption.

Photo courtesy of CIP
Photo courtesy of CIP

During the country’s National Potato Day on May 30, the International Potato Center (CIP) and partners highlighted the nutritional value of native Peruvian potatoes, especially insofar as consumption of these potatoes can combat malnutrition in children. In Peru, 19.5 per cent of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition, and this figure is estimated to be as high as 30 per cent in rural areas. CIP believes that promoting the consumption of native potatoes improves food security and nutrition in Peru’s poorest regions.

Source: Economia.terra.com.pe and CIP

United Kingdom

Satellite technology developed during the Cold War is set to deliver state-of-the-art crop monitoring systems to help growers improve agronomy and drive up profits, says Stephanie Race, chief executive of San Francisco-based Earth Analytics Group. Race spoke at World Potato Congress 2012, which was held in Edinburgh, Scotland in May. During her presentation, Race said that although the satellite technology dates back several decades, its capabilities for the remote sensing of crops are only now being realized, thanks to relatively recent developments in information technology. “Satellite remote sensing can inform observations of crop canopy development at scale. When used with meteorology, soil data and crop models, growers can monitor in-season production and reduce water use to achieve more favourable yields at a lower cost,” she explained. “Growers can evaluate many more fields with remotely-sensed data than they could by walking them—we are saving time with this technology.” Race pointed out that information can be used to fine-tune management decisions during the season and to give an accurate prediction of yield in relation to planned harvest dates. This not only helps growers manage their inputs efficiently and plan harvest campaigns better, it also helps manufacturers improve crop supply forecasts, she added.

Cambridge University Farm is working with Earth Analytics Group to develop the technology in the U.K. and further afield. David Firman, head of the Potato Agronomy Group at CUF, believes that better canopy measurement is the key to improved potato crop monitoring. “Crop cover drives crop production and water demand. Current methods of measuring it are primitive and time consuming and can only be used on small areas. Bringing satellite imagery together with locally-gathered information and yield and irrigation modelling, which we already operate, will allow potato growers to make more efficient use of resources during the season and will also allow more efficient data capture, which can be analyzed to provide an element of forecasting and strategic decision-making.” That will help growers make more informed choices based on actual crop performance and expectations, he adds.

Source: Potato Council

Colombia

A group of Israeli agricultural experts have succeeded in helping local Colombian farmers grow potatoes in a harsh desert environment. The project was initiated by Isaac Gilinski, a Colombian Jewish businessman who is currently serving as Colombia’s ambassador to Israel. With the help of Israeli agricultural expert Avi Nachmias and a team of Israeli irrigation experts, local Colombian farmers were trained and assisted in installing an Israel-manufactured drip irrigation system. The project was completed over the course of a year in the northern La Guajira desert, where local farmers firmly believed that one can “receive stones, but not potatoes” from the land. So far, local farmers have harvested 11 metric tonnes of potatoes from the desert fields. Potato production in this region will create a new and much-needed source of income for the local farmers. La Guajira is a coal-producing region, and the company that processes most of that coal financed the potato project. Colombian officials are reportedly eager to repeat this successful project in other parts of Colombia.

Source: Israel Today Magazine