Seed potential in Kenya

Three potato varieties have been recommended for release in Kenya thanks to the joint efforts of AHDB, James Hutton, SASA and Seeds2B Africa (part of Syngenta).

The three were whittled down from 10 potentials after trials at three separate farms over two seasons. The free variety Cara, and two James Hutton varieties, Gemson and Lady Balfour, made the grade.

This opens the door for GB producers to export to Kenya where potatoes are the second most important food crop after maize, with 2-3m tonnes grown annually. However, most is from home-saved seed and achieve yields of as little as 10 tonnes per ha.

In the trials, Cara yielded strongly with an average yield of 52 tonnes per ha, though the top performer was Lady Balfour at 56 tonnes per ha, with Gemson at 42 tonnes per ha on average.

Hermes is also under consideration as a chipper/crisper and though its yield was at the lower end of the trials, its high dry matter content would find favour with processors.

Making slug pellets work for you

MAKING every slug pellet count is the secret to maximising slug control while minimising environmental impact, according to crop protection company, Adama. It is urging arable growers to plan ahead, be more accurate with the use of pellets and help reduce the impact of key molluscicide active ingredient, metaldehyde, on drinking water quality and environmental diversity.“Our ongoing commitment to promoting the responsible use of agrochemicals and reducing the threat of key active ingredients being lost means we’re asking growers to think carefully about how and when they apply slug pellets,” explained Andy Bailey, Adama’s fungicide and molluscicide technical specialist. “That means ensuring all spreading equipment is properly maintained and calibrated before pellets are applied.”To enable spreader calibration, Adama is giving away a limited number of 5kg bags of placebo pellets which are a perfect copy of the company’s own metaldehyde-based slug pellets. These dummy pellets replicate exactly the ballistic characteristics of products such as Gusto 3, Carakol and Enzo, don’t contain any active ingredient and can be used to accurately calibrate spreaders before the active pellets are put down.

The benefits of pulses

A CLEAR strategy of education to stress the health benefits of pulses, food origin and healthy eating choices has been called for by industry body, PGRO.

It chief executive, Roger Vickers, said:

“All agree that the western diet must change to tackle the obesity crisis and lower the burden on the health services caused by unhealthy consumption.

“A dietary change to include a greater proportion of vegetable protein in the form of pulses and pulse-derived ingredients has enormous potential benefits to society. For example, as healthy pulse-based snacks replacing existing high-calorie snacks.”

But, he added, it would need investment in pulse processing and ingredient development by the UK food industry.

Help in making the right decisions

SMART decision-making is at the heart of the expansion of a risk forecasting service aiming to provide real-time data for pest and disease management.

Fera’s CropMonitor, in partnership with the Crop Health and Protection Centre (CHAP) and supported by Innovate UK, is being extended to form a new national capability in decision support.

Using CropMonitor as its core platform to deliver risk forecasts for pests and diseases of wheat, barley, oilseed rape and potatoes, it has a bespoke weather monitoring network, national pest and disease surveillance data and advanced risk models.

The service will enable farmers and growers to make informed decisions based on a wealth of information that could lead to reduced costs and increased yields.

Currently in its pilot phase, the project is building up data before becoming subscription-based in March, 2019.

Fera is based near York and is working on building up date to make the service a robust and reliable resource.

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