A new potato store is saving huge amounts of time and cost for a Norfolk farming family in the UK. The Poortvliet family who farm at Bannington Hall Farm, Aylsham, previously had to transport their crops several miles by road to a rented store at Dudwick, Norfolk.
That was a time-consuming round trip, which has been replaced by one that can take barely a minute – the new store adjoins some of the fields where they grow potatoes. They grow some 150 acres alongside a range of other arable crops on a 900 acre owned farm, to which they add other land held on contracts. One third of their crops go for chip making with the other two thirds going into the pre-pack trade.
It has opened up new business opportunities for them, says Bruce Poortvliet: “Five years ago when we started growing potatoes we lifted them and sold them straight off the field. Then we started renting storage at Dudwick which was expensive. Getting to and from the store was increasingly time consuming”.
When they decided to develop their own store they chose to work with Crop Systems Limited – based nearby at Happisburg, Norfolk:
“We had one of the first stores Crop Systems Limited built, and liked the way they look after their customers and look after people, as well as building all the equipment themselves. We also like dealing with local people, so they were the logical choice”.
Despite being under Covid-19 restrictions, the development progressed smoothly and the store has just been loaded for its first winter. It is already producing some excellent results:
“We loaded the store over eight days and then immediately started to pull the temperature down. The crop went from 9oC to 3oC in just three days. Our agronomist was amazed – he had never seen store temperatures pulled down that quickly”.
The family was confident that the glycol fridge would perform, as they used to have a mobile glycol cooling kit on the farm some years ago:
“That old unit worked pretty well when we needed, so we were confident this new fridge would work. It has the added advantage that we can turn it off and use ambient air from outside the store if the temperature outside drops below our storage temperature, which will save costs”.
And having the SmartStor controller – which enables key staff to monitor and manage the store from their mobile devices – is a major advantage, he adds:
“It is very handy to have the system on your mobile phone – that gives us real ‘peace of mind’ because if anything goes wrong we all get an alert and can respond and rectify it very quickly”.