Thriving on fertile Tasmanian soil and continuous improvement

Over three decades, Agronico has shifted its focus from an agriculture consultancy business to all things mini tubers and seed potatoes. The business is always aiming to improve and is currently working on a five-year plan to enhance customer experience, while offering world-class procedures and facilities for seed potato storage.

Tasmania’s fertile soil is ideal for growing healthy vegetables as well as producing potatoes that are high-quality and disease-free. There is plenty of virgin ground available, especially in irrigation areas newly opened by the Tasmanian Government.

Tasmanian-based business Agronico recognises the Apple Isle’s ideal conditions for growing quality potatoes. Over 30 years, it has grown from an agricultural consultancy business – working with individual farmers – into one of Australia’s largest seed potato producers. Today, it continues to develop the science of seed potato propagation through investment in tissue culture, hydroponics, seed processing and cool store technology.

“In our business, we start with tissue culture,” Agronico Chief Executive Officer Robert Graham explained. “Research on hydroponic mini tubers started 18 years ago. It took around seven to eight years to perfect it and make it commercially viable. By growing potato mini tubers hydroponically, we get a more uniform tuber size, the system is predictable, and we can fulfil ordered volumes more consistently.”

Keeping everything top notch is important. Agronico prides itself on world-class seed potato handling procedures, aiming for minimal harvesting and grading damage. Its intensely managed field production from G1 maximizes production of G3, making it the final generation of seed potatoes to ware growers. This ensures that the quality is not compromised by pushing to G4 and beyond.

Mini tubers at Agronico’s hydroponic facility.

A cool process
The team identified the ideal cool storage technology during a study tour of Europe. Produced by Tolsma, the first cool store opened in 2017 with specially designed aeration systems circulating fresh air through each section when carbon dioxide levels are too high. Following its outstanding success, a second one opened in August 2019.

With 18 rooms in total, the cool stores can hold up to 16,000 tonnes and achieve maximum efficiency by being located next to the grading and cutting lines. Trucks can be loaded in the large drive-through corridor in the centre of the storage shed, ideal for loading in wet weather.

Best practice procedures are employed when cutting the seed. The quality of operations enables Agronico to cut and cure seed for distribution around Australia without breakdown. For the growers, freighting cut seed is more efficient than cutting after delivery.

“Agronico is committed to improving product and providing opportunities for growers/contractors in Tasmania,” Mr. Graham said. “We will continue to invest in infrastructure to support and maximize our capabilities as the leading and only vertically integrated supplier of quality seed potatoes in Australia. We’re very optimistic about the future potential of Tasmanian agriculture.”

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Source: Fresh Plaza