Spudologist’s recent visit to Australia, next stop NZ

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(PNZ has permission to republish Potatoes Australia articles)

Andy Robinson is an academic and extension agronomist from the United States, who conducts research along with his colleagues at North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota. After presenting at the AuSPICA conference in 2018, he returned to Australia earlier this year and met with Snack Brands Australia, Simplot and potato processing growers on-farm to share his knowledge.

Potatoes New Zealand are pleased to announce, Andy will be a keynote speaker at our conference in August 2019. Dakota really does produce great potato expertise, as we proven in a recent speaking tour from potato expert Neil Gudmestad.

Andy introduces himself:

“G’day, I’m Andy Robinson and my favourite food is potatoes. For a decade, I have been helping to improve potato production to feed the world their favorite vegetable.

My focus is to improve sustainable potato production through scientifically-based solutions to address real world problems expressed by agricultural professionals, and to disseminate scientific information through easy-to-understand trainings, bulletins and technology.

Having been raised on a farm in Idaho, I understand the importance of good information to improve a farm’s economic stability. Because of my desire to improve agriculture, through my formal education I studied agronomy and weed science, obtaining a PhD in Weed Science from Purdue University in Indiana.

After being in school for 23 years, it was time to put that knowledge to good use. Since 2012, I have been the Extension Potato Agronomist for North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota. This joint appointment allows me to work with potato growers who grow seed potatoes, fresh potatoes and potatoes for crisps and chips in two states.

My role as an extension educator is to provide timely information that is scientifically sound and unbiased, which will aid growers in sustainable crop production.

I make technology a part of my extension programming and educational tools. Multiple platforms of technology are used in conjunction with traditional extension methods such as on-farm visits, publications in trade magazines, extension articles and education at various meetings. I believe that both technology and traditional methods are important in order to make it easy for my clientele to find the accurate and unbiased information they need at a moment’s notice. Through multiple platforms I am able to reach a large number of people effectively.

Sharing information

Some of the programs I have developed, or use, are the North Dakota State University Potato Extension webpage (z.umn.edu/spud) and the North Dakota Agriculture Weather Network Potato Blight app (z.umn.edu/potatoapp). On the Potato Extension webpage there is a wealth of information, including posts on current topics, certified seed, pest identification, and links to many extension articles on various topics I have authored or co-authored.

Another aspect of my position is that I provide organisational leadership and moderate field days and winter meetings. These meetings are highly attended by the potato growers and industry members because important research and education is provided to help them manage potatoes more successfully. One of these meetings is the Potato Scout School where we teach pest identification and management and other basic potato principles.

Additionally, I have given over 200 talks at meetings with potato growers, scientists, industry and regulatory agencies, many of which have been international invitations.

My research work is intended to provide unbiased information that can be implemented in large-scale production within a short time after the research is complete. It has been focused on herbicide use and misuse, plant nutrition and physiology, and I have published 18 articles in research journals or book chapters. The research projects that interest me the most address specific challenges farmers are facing. I determine the problem though my communications with farmers, develop research projects and then distribute this information to the potato community to help them make the proper changes.

My recent visits to Australia – a week in winter and a week in summer – have taught me that there are opportunities for education to potato growers. There are many younger and not-so-younger growers who are looking for more knowledge in potatoes. As I have had many opportunities to work with potato growers across the world, I’ve learned that growers all face similar challenges: because if growing was easy, anyone could do it.”

Andy appears on the 14th August for a mid-morning presentation at the Potatoes New Zealand Conference 2019.

Andy Robinson can be contacted directly at naqerj.c.ebovafba@aqfh.rqh. Visit Andy’s Facebook page: facebook.com/ potatoextension or follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @spudology.