Latvia on meille suomalaisille huomattavasti vähemmän tuttu maa kuin Viro, mutta varmasti yhtälailla tutustumisen arvoinen. Olen käynyt siellä työn puolesta joitakin kertoja ja nyt taas syyskuun puolessavälissä. Tuosta työasiasta on toinen postaus perunatärkkelyssivustolla. Seuraavassa hiukan muita reissulla otettuja kuvia.
Ensin kuitenkin pari työaiheista otosta:
Täällä tapahtuu tärkkelysperunoidenn pesu. Vastavalo ja työntekijä ovensuussa luo aika onnistuneen tunnelman.
Latvialaisilla suurilla luomutiloilla on varsin uuttakin kalustoa suomalaisia Valtra-traktoreita myöten. Tässä kuitenkin traktorikuski odottaa kuormaa Belaruksen nokalla istuen.
Latvia on Viron tapaan Suomeakin lättänämpi maa, mutta Gaujan kansallispuistoalueelta löytyy mäkiä ja harjujakin. Rannikon Via Baltican varrella olevat metsät ovat meikäläisittäin tutun näköistä havupuumetsää, mutta sisämaassa lehtimetsät ovat tyypillisempiä.
SIguldan uusi linna näytti olevan hääparien susoiossa ja vanha Volga oli päässyt käyttöön. SIninen ei kuulemma ole alkuperäinen tehdasväri…
Tammi Siguldan linnan pihalla.
Hiukan myöhemmin syksyn värit olisivat varmasti olleet parhaimillaan, mutta tästäkin löytyy mielenkiintoista “tekstuuria”.
Riikan kauppahallit ovat ehdottomasti vierailun arvoisia, eikä kuvaaminen näyttänyt porukkaa liiemmin haittaavan….
Halleja on neljä rinnakkain ja ulkopuolella oleva torialue päälle. Kannattaa varata aikaa – meillä oli tunti ja ehdittiin hät’hätää juosta paikka läpi keskikäytäviä pitkin.
… vaikkei se välttämättä hymyilyttänytkään.
Luomu ei hirveästi näkynyt, mutta tässä myytiin luomuleipomotuotteita.
Hyviä ravintoloita Riikassa riittää. Tässä ollaan latvialaista ruokaa tarjoilevassa Valtera’ssa.
The other week I visited Latvia in order to see organic starch potato harvest and the starch production process at Aloja Starkelsen. You can find my earlier posts last year about the harvest in Finland and the production process at Finnamyl. My purpose was to see and photograph the harvest in Ledurga at Zigmars Logins’ Ozolini ZL organic farm (earlier photograph of his potato field here). However the harvest was postponed to following week as they were still preparing their two 3-row harvesting machines and emptying the warehouse of the organic oats they had harvested a few weeks earlier. Zigmars is Aloja Starkelsen’s biggest organic potato farmer with 55 hectares of organic starch potato. In total he is farming 400 hectares organically. Apart from potatoes his crop rotation includes grain and red-clover.
The 3-row harvesting machine being prepared for action.
Ozolini ZL organic farm in Ladurga.
The potato stems have been cut and the potatoes are waiting for the harvesters.
Aloja Starkelsen has 29 contract farmers for organic starch potato. Apart from a few big farms like Zigmars’ they are smaller farms with just a few hectares of potatoes. One of these is the Segrumi dairy farm just 15 km from the factory. I visit the farm together with Aloja Starkelsen’s agronomist Aiga Kraukle. Segrumi has just 2 hectares of potatoes which they were harvesting. Naturally investment in machinery has to be lower when production is smaller. The old Finnish-manufactured Juko one-rowed potato harvester is pulled by an equally old Belarus tractor. Two men need to work the harvester to ensure that the potatoes flow well into the container. Yield is expected to be almost 20 tons per hectare and the starch content is high this year. We also make a short visit to the farm where the dairy cows are on the pasture. The 2 hectares of potatoes brings the farm an important extra income.
The farm has an old Finnish-manufactured Juko harvester.
The Segrumi farm is a small dairy farm.
Aiga also shows me around the Aloja factory. Previously I had not visited the factory during the campaign so it is interesting to see the factory in action. Of course the process is the same as at Finnamyl so it all looks familiar. On the Friday I visited the factory the production was conventional. The first organic production will be on Monday 16th September. Finnamyl processed its first organic starch this year on 12th September. We expect normal to good yields in both countries so the outlook for this year is good.
Potatoes must be carefully washed before going further in the process.
The starch is washed on the belt filter.
Aiga Kraukle and the potato starch coming off the vacuum filter. After this it is still dried and packed.
Organic potato starch in the warehouse.
So the organic potato starch harvest and the campaign has started for this year!
In early July on the way to the 7th Ifoam Conference in Vilnius we took the opportunity to visit a few organic farms. First in Estonia close to Rapla we visited the farmer Tõnu Kriisa who produces mainly organic beef on 300 hectares but has also a few hectares of potatoes. He has a small contract with Aloja Starkelsen for starch potatoes – he is one of two Estonian organic farmers producing organic starch potato for Aloja. Tõnu Kriisa is a pioneer of organic farming in Estonia – actually I have met him the first time a long time ago in late 1980’s when he was studying biodynamic farming in Finland.
Tonu Kriisa proudly showing his organic potato field.
Potato blooming at Tonu Kriisa farm.
In Latvia we stopped at Aloja Starkelse and joined the organic farm excursion that was arranged for the board members of the Swedish Lyckeby-Culinar – mostly farmers themselves. Our first visit was to Sigmars Logins in Krimuldas. He has 470 hectares organic cultivation of which 47 hectares organic starch potato for Aloja Starkelsen. On the field we visited he is cultivating the “Kuras” variety which has a good resistance against blight. He expects to get 17-21 tons per hectare harvest.
Organic farmer Sigmars Logins and Aloja Starkelse Ltd’s agronomist Aiga Kraukle at Sigmars’ starch potato field.
Our second visit was to Andrejs Hansons and his vermicompost facility where California red worms transform potato pulp and other organic material into compost. The vermicompost is supposed to have a stimulating effect on soil microbiology and it is also hoped that it could to some extent build the plants resistance towards potato late blight. According to Andrejs Hansons just postponing late blight for 1-2 weeks would have great value in terms of starch yield. Andrejs who is the former managing director of Aloja Starkelesen, is also a producer of organic starch potatoes. We visit his fields where there are also impressive field tests for different varieties of starch potatoes and fertilizers including the vermicompost.
Vermicomposting at Ekotri Ltd.
“California red worm” or red worm, Eisenia fetida, is adapted to decaying organic material.