Top Crop Manager

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Atlantic cross-border information sharing

An annual event distributes research focussed on regional concerns.


November 14, 2007
By Top Crop Manager

Topics

It is cross-border co-operation that does not make it onto national news shows,
but a group of researchers from the US and their Atlantic neighbours from Canada's
potato growing area meet every year to share research. In turn, they go back
to their potato growing regions and share the information with growers. There
is also opportunity at this venue to co-operate on research projects or reduce
repetition.

The Northeast Potato Technology Forum is held every March in one of the member
states or provinces. Canada is being honoured by hosting the event two years
in a row in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in 2004 and in Fredericton,
New Brunswick, in 2005. Dr. Rick Peters of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
helped to organize the 2004 event, which was hosted by the Prince Edward Island
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture. He was pleased to witness
discussions of 29 scientific research projects between 125 participants from
Maine and Atlantic Canada. The day and a half meeting draws potato researchers
from the federal, provincial and university levels, and industry personnel.

"In 2004 we had five sessions covering integrated crop management; alternative
disease control; nutrient management; pathogen detection, development and impact;
and potato tuber management and molecular characterization," reports Peters.
"This is a way for the research community and industry to collaborate and
learn where opportunities for co-operation exist."

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Some of the individual papers presented at the forum in 2004 examined using
pulp fibre waste as a soil additive, the effect potassium has on potatoes, using
essential oils for late blight control, detecting PVYn with molecular tools,
and biocontrol of Colorado potato beetle. During the forum, researchers may
discover they are working on similar projects and choose to combine their efforts
for more efficient research and timelier results. Others may gain ideas into
what research is needed to supplement what was presented.

Dr. Loretta Mikitzel of the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Aquaculture is the forum's organizer for 2005 and she says it is always
exciting to learn what topics are being offered for discussion and sharing.
"After the meeting, I often invite some of the presenters to share their
research at grower meetings because what they are doing is so interesting,"
she says.

It is at grower meetings when much of what is presented at the forum reaches
growers. The extension personnel that attend the forum's sessions ensure that
what is useful and timely for growers reaches them before spring planting begins.

All the presentations are published in book form by McCain's, a frequent participant
at the event. Sometimes presenters offer follow-up information on papers presented
at an earlier forum, which helps keep track of advancements or research that
proved inconclusive.

"There is a lot of sharing between all involved and it is always productive,"
concludes Peters.

While growers generally do not attend the meeting, there is plenty of opportunity
to learn what was discussed by getting a copy of the proceedings or calling
research contacts to find out what was presented. -30-