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Wealth of advice and flexible timetable at North of England Potato Day

15 September 2011

 

For Yorkshire potato grower Stuart Stark, the North of England Potato Day is an unmissable event. The managing director of Fridlington Farms Limited, who is responsible for 520 acres of processing potatoes grown for Walkers Crisps and McCain Foods, believes the flexibility of the programme will make it easier for growers to attend at what will be a busy time of year.
 
The event held at Askham Bryan on September 13, will consist of a series of in-the-field interactive workshops and trials in addition to topical seminar sessions, covering a range of key areas that will appeal to farmer and staff alike. 
 
“Many growers will be drilling oilseed rape or winter cereals and some may have started lifting. But the workshop programme is repeated morning and afternoon, meaning growers can attend for two or three hours and then send their staff along afterwards.
“That way, everyone can keep up with all the latest messages without compromising work back at the farm.” 
 
On the day, growers will be offered a valuable insight into retail and consumer trends and how they might affect the new marketing season. Keynote speaker Dr David Hughes, Emeritus Professor at the University of Kent Business School and Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, will present an overview of market trends and influences, outlining the challenges that lie ahead.
 
The in-the-field workshops will focus on costs savings and quality and a visit will be time very well spent, Stuart maintains. 
 
“Potato growing is all about risk management these days – quality is all, and the last thing you want is rejections. This event offers all the key information you need at the right time of the year – operators can go back ready for harvest with these messages fresh in their minds.”
 
The bruising workshop with Eric Anderson of Scottish Agronomy and Barry Baker of Grimme will be a must-attend event for harvester operators – even the best are bound to pick up some fresh tips, says Stuart.
 
Effective spraying with Syngenta’s Tom Robinson will be one his first ports of call. “We are spending more and more on the latest chemistry to protect our crops, so we need to do all we can to make sure it is going where it is really needed.”
 
The desiccation demo is also high on his list, he adds. “With three agrochemical companies supporting this demonstration, there should be plenty to look at and discuss.”
 
AHDB Potatoes Phil Bradshaw says other workshops likely to attract plenty of attention include soil scientist Selwyn Richardson’s soil pit, which offers an assessment of soil structure and compaction and examples of remedial action, and of course the eight plots of variety trials.
“We also have three presentations on storage, with AHDB Potatoes Adrian Cunnington and Adrian Briddon. Subjects include store efficiency and managing CIPC as well as coping with the challenges of a severe winter, a subject that is likely to stir up plenty of interest after last winter.”
 
Julian Franklin from the HSE will highlight the importance of inducting and training staff, particularly pertinent as harvest approaches, says Phil.
 
The North of England Potato Event is organised by AHDB Potatoes and sponsored by Masstock Smart Farming, SAC, Syngenta, NFU, Branston, Grimme and Cockerill. 
 
For further information on the please visit www.potato.org.uk/events or email Miya Kotecha (mkotecha@potato.org.uk).
 
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