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Robert Graham - Agronico
"We are now the only people producing the tubers hydroponically"Agronomist Julian Shaw set up Agronico in 1985, as a consultancy providing advice for growers. As the company grew they saw the need for more research to solve technical issues. In 1997 the company's research team started running trials on hydroponic potatoes and now has a successful seed potato production business.
Agronico holds 150 different varieties and harvest tubers 2-3 times a week
"We are now the only people producing the tubers hydroponically, most people plant them in a pot with peat and don't know what they've got until they are dug up," explains Robert Graham CEO.
Hydroponic minitubers are 100% virus free. With the hydroponic method you can see what is growing
"Using our method we can see exactly what we have as they are developing. We also produce field grown generations. They come out of the lab disease free and are planted for three consecutive years in the field until we have sufficient quantity to sell to the growers, this is what we call G3."
Agronico grow a range of interesting varieties.
These G3 seed potatoes are then sold to some of the biggest potato growers in Australia. Agronico's model for seed production is a little bit different to anyone else in Australia.
The Atlantic variety which is good for crisps
"What we do here is we own the G3 and take responsibility down the line for the potato, and for that reason we have invested very heavily in the grading and the storage because it is our name, our reputation at stake," explains Robert.
Agronico recently built a state of the art cool storage facility with a capacity of over 8,000 tonnes. The storage consists of 10 sections for 800 tonnes each, and has a specially designed aeration system which allows fresh air to be circulated through each section to keep the potatoes well ventilated and healthy.
The new cool storage facility
"Tasmania has less of the potato diseases or pests found on the mainland and we have seen the biggest part of our growth in recent years with growers there."
Airflow and temperature controlled by a touch screen
This low pest status is also helping Agronico in the Australian market, they have gone from exporting 3,000 tons to 10,000 tons in just 4 years, the only reason that it is not more is that it takes time to produce the tubers.
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