Uncertainty means it is the right time for additional storage provision

Monday, 18 February 2019

Industry view: Jonathan Papworth – Fen Edge Farming Ltd

At the time of writing yet another EU standing committee meeting has passed without a vote on potato sprout suppressant CIPC. The uncertainty continues.

It is not for me to speculate on the future of CIPC. The task force, made up of the companies who hold licences to sell products containing the chemical, say they remain hopeful. Throughout the saga they have posted on the CIPC Be Compliant website within days of each EU meeting, so at least they are keeping us informed.

In my role as an AHDB Potatoes Board member, I also sit on the advisory committee for Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research (SBCSR). I have therefore had oversight of the research and Knowledge Exchange (KE) activities from the team that the levy that you and I pay helps to fund.

There has been research conducted on alternative sprout suppression methods at SBCSR for a number of years, but in July the AHDB Potatoes Board approved a proposal to ring fence a fund of £800,000 for additional research and KE on storage and sprout suppression.

This work is already underway, with trials looking at various alternatives to CIPC, both those on the market in this country, and those approved by the EU, but not by CRD in UK – in anticipation of any change in that situation.

The results of the trials using this year’s crop will be reported as we go through the season.

In addition the team has announced a series of regional storage meetings, to allow as many store managers as possible the chance to spend time discussing potential changes and alternatives to sprout control strategies – and store best practice in general.

I would recommend attending your nearest event, as well as hearing about the latest research, you might also learn how your neighbour is dealing with a similar problem to your own.

There are plans afoot to extend the each of SBCSR storage advice by working with commercial storage advisors. A meeting was held in January where those active in industry learned more about working as part of AHDB’s Storage Network.

I think this will be an excellent way of spreading the messages from completed research projects and of harnessing the expertise in the commercial sector.

Sutton Bridge is a unique facility. Combining both cutting edge research and freely available KE. It also joins funding from the AHDB levy and commercial funding from industry.

There is years and years of experience within the team, and it is well worth tapping into that.

If you are worried about how your crop might store this year I would recommend that you pick the phone and dial 0800 02 82 111 or email sbcsr@ahdb.org.uk(link sends e-mail) for free storage advice.

Or even better, come and meet the team in person at one of the events, I might even see you there.

This story was taken from the Potatoes newsletter TuberTALK - click here to download the full issue

Jonathan Papworth is a 4th generation potato farmer, Managing Partner of his family farming business and joint MD of Fen Edge Farming in Cambridgeshire.
He specialises in the production of main crop potatoes for the pre-pack, processing and chipping market and has considerable experience of operating in the contract and free-buy supply chain.
Jonathan was appointed to the board in April 2017, on his appoitnment he said: "As a levy payer for more than 25 years I have first-hand experience of the implications of fluctuations within the industry, I am looking forward to contributing to AHDB's work during this time of change and opportunity."