Potato Grower

January 2020

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WWW.POTATOGROWER.COM 29 "Nanotechnology will ensure that biological products are stable and viable for delivery to the field," says Bihlmeyer. "It will allow for mixing of biologicals and synthetic chemistry without jeopardizing biological activity. This will reduce the environmental load of chemistry and ensure that exact rates and molecules are applied in precision agriculture." 6. CONNECTED CROP MANAGEMENT The idea of precision agriculture has become more concrete and seen great advancements over the past decade, and that can be expected to continue. "Inegrated data access is one of the foundational advancements that has moved pivot and linear irrigation forward," says Valley Irrigation vice president of global technology strategy Trevor Mecham, himself a fourth-generation potato grower. "This data helps growers make smarter decisions more quickly, saving labor and resources." 7. CAMERA AND SENSOR TECHNOLOGY "Imagery and detection services by camera and sensor will continue to expand," says Mecham, "giving growers the abilitiy to scan entire fields in a couple hours with real-time feedback for pest and disease pressure. Potato growers, for example, could detect early signs of leaf roll, potato beetle or indicators of blight." 8. CONTINUED RISE OF PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS Mecham foresees machine learning, computer vision and artificial intelligence changing the way growers are able to detect signs of crop stress and essentially scan the health of their fields. "This will enable growers, who have historically only been able to react, to be proactive and effectively avoid issues stemming from a variety of predictable events," he says. 9. AUTONOMOUS PIVOTS AND OTHER EQUIPMENT "In the near future, center pivots won't just be irrigation machines," says Mecham. "They will be utilized as a digital data hub, bringing unprecedented visibility to fields so growers can optimize irrigation and progress toward fully autonomous crop management. Sharing the intelligence between connected field devices and pivots, along with the integration of data science and machine learning, will deliver critical information for greater crop precision." 10. POLITICAL PARTISANSHIP "If the hyper-partisan climate in Washington, D.C., and in states across the nation persists, it will continue to hinder efforts resolve issues through legislative processes," says Mike Wenkel, chief operating officer for the National Potato Council (NPC). "The industry must increase education with policymakers, conveying the impact of their decisions and offering practical solutions to elected officials who are increasingly new to their roles and disconnected from production agriculture." 11. FOCUS ON AG LABOR "Creating and implementing a solution to the agricultural labor crisis will remain a focus for the industry," says Wenkel. Such a solution will need to address legalizing the current improperly documented workforce, modernizing the guest worker program to ensure that it responds to industry needs, and enforcement provisions to ensure participants are playing by the rules.

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