No. 3/22 SUBSCRIBER EDITION
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GB Potatoes' call for support
Now that the wind down of AHDB Potatoes is nearing completion, there is no organisation that represents the interests of the whole potato industry in Great Britain.
GB Potatoes is a proposal from the industry for a lean, efficient umbrella organisation, owned and controlled by growers and the downstream supply chain. It seeks to “be able to defend the industry from threats, when required, and provide a flexible platform for innovation and growth to help the Great British potato industry thrive.” It proposes to be funded by a modest subscription from members.
GB Potatoes has commissioned a website www.gb-potatoes.co.uk which will set out its mission and vision for the organisation. Ultimately GB Potatoes aims to become a trusted and reputable voice of the industry able to effectively represent the interests of all elements of the supply chain.
If you agree with the concept of GB Potatoes, its organisers are saying, “it is very important that you voice your support by emailing email@example.com. There may not be another opportunity.”
Seed initiative proposed too
At the same time, moves are afoot in Scotland to set up a SAOS facilitated co-operative to represent the Scottish seed sector. Also following a membership model, the new group hopes to raise funding from a £40/ha fee based on planted seed. The proposed body is in collaboration with Scottishpotatoes.org a partnership of SRUC, James Hutton Institute and SASA with additional input from NFU Scotland and Scottish Agronomy.
As a former AHDB researcher, I would submit that it is impossible to underestimate the importance of backing these initiatives. Governments have made it pretty clear that nothing like AHDB is coming back to potatoes and therefore the industry has to provide its own alternative organisation(s) to provide a backbone of support to the sector. Extending way beyond the specialist remit of private companies like PSI, this needs to be present to act as a focal point to tackle cross-industry issues collectively for members (a crucial but highly underrated role that AHDB undertook) and to underpin collaborative effort to drive important facets such as research and knowledge exchange that have been key to our industry moving forward for many decades.
Potato Storage Insight activity
Potato Storage Insight Ltd (PSI) is a new company specialising in potato storage expertise and know-how. PSI has been set up by Adrian Cunnington, former head of AHDB’s Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research facility that closed in December.
PSI is available to offer support and advice to all parts of the British potato industry, building on our many years of experience, on technical issues and best practice adoption.
March has been another busy month with our own two-day course for store managers successfully run for 20 delegates at Retford. Thanks to Glyn Harper for his help with training delivery and to everyone who took part for their contributions and support.
Heather Briggs from The Vegetable Farmer came along to see how it all went, so you should see some coverage in that publication shortly. Thank you, Heather. Talking of coverage, we are also grateful to Rachel Hicks for her recent article on PSI and our work with sprout suppressants in Farmers Guide and the help of Lukie Pieterse at Potato News Today in widening the awareness of PSI's Synopsis.
If you wish to discuss opportunities for dedicated training for your company, please call Adrian Cunnington on 07970 072260.
Technical insight: STORAGE COSTS
Part One – Energy use
The rapidly-changing situation with storage costs requires every manager to devote some time with a highly critical eye to the matter of cost control - more so than ever before. Burying one’s head in the sand is a dangerous option; costs are rising so markedly that no responsible operator can fail to recognise that getting it wrong could be a disastrous situation for a potato enterprise.
So how can you arrive at an accurate cost for operating a store?
There are many different parts to that calculation. In this first of two articles, we will focus on assessing and regulating energy use. In May, we will consider capital expenditure and other operating costs.
Here are some of the factors to consider when trying to control energy consumption and cost. It is a much more far-reaching list than it perhaps first appears:
· Store control
· Calibration of sensors
· Use of inverters/speed control
· Fan performance