Photos from the organic starch potato harvest and campaign in Latvia

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.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

The 3-row harvesting machine being prepared for action.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

Ozolini ZL organic farm in Ladurga.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

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.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

The farm has an old Finnish-manufactured Juko harvester.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

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.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

Potatoes must be carefully washed before going further in the process.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

The starch is washed on the belt filter.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

Aiga Kraukle and the potato starch coming off the vacuum filter. After this it is still dried and packed.

 (Erkki Poytaniemi, Erkki Pöytäniemi)

Organic potato starch in the warehouse.

So the organic potato starch harvest and the campaign has started for this year!

 

Harvesting organic starch potatoes in Kauhava, Finland

Hermanni Huhtala has over 100 hectares of organic starch potatoes cultivated on his farm in Kauhava, Western Finland. In total he has an organic farm with over 500 hectares making his farm one of the biggest organic farms in Finland. The average size of an organic farm in Finland is 48 hectares which is significantly more than the average for conventional farms. 9% of the field area in Finland is certified organic.

The potatoes are processed to starch at Finnamyl Oy factory in Kokemäki on Thursday – so you can expect a new story from there later this week. Organic is still just a small part of Finnamyl’s potato starch production and therefore they have an organic production run only on three days.

 (Photographer: Erkki Poytaniemi)

This organic potato field is 1 km long.

 (Photographer: Erkki Poytaniemi)

The potato harvester handles 4 rows at a time.

 (Photographer: Erkki Poytaniemi)

The farmer Mr Hermanni Huhtala is operating the machine. Finnamyl CEO Mr Ossi Paakki is following how the harvest proceeds.

 (Photographer: Erkki Poytaniemi)

At the end of the row the harvester has to be emptied. Next Thursday these potatoes will have turned into white potato starch at the Finnamyl factory.

 

organicpotatostarch.com