Avebe

Avebe is a cooperative of starch-potato growers focused on the market. Traditionally we only focused on extracting starch from potatoes. However, by developing innovative methods we now also extract proteins from potatoes that are intended for the food industry. But there is more…. To us a potato is a source of opportunities with even more ingredients that can be turned into value. In other words, if it’s in there, we’ll extract it!

GETTING THE UPPER HAND

OVER DROUGHT

The growing season of 2018 was dominated by the drought. Due to the extreme growing season, the starch potato yield was about 25 percent lower than normal. Dutch and German growers had to pull out all the stops to limit the damage.


GETTING THE UPPER HAND

OVER DROUGHT

The growing season of 2018 was dominated by the drought. Due to the extreme growing season, the starch potato yield was about 25 percent lower than normal. Dutch and German growers had to pull out all the stops to limit the damage.

Jan Albert Daling

ARABLE FARMER IN SMILDE, THE NETHERLANDS

OWNS AN ARABLE FARM. HE GROWS POTATOES, SUGAR BEET AND GRAIN ON 120 HECTARES OF LAND.

“Due to heavy rainfall in the spring, the 2018 growing season has started late for us. The rain kept making it necessary to change the planting date. We started late. Fortunately, the crops developed well due to the temperatures in April and May. Then came the real problem for us, the drought.”

Keeping cultivation going
“In mid-June, the drought became really acute. After three weeks of dry and sunny weather, the effects became visible. To keep the cultivation going and to move through the season, we had to take action. Against our better judgment, we started irrigation at the end of June. For seven weeks, 24 hours a day. We watered two-thirds of the potato acreage several times. Did this limit the damage? I think so. Although, like the many other potato growers, we had a moderate to poor harvest. Still, I think we were able to get more kilos from the land because of the irrigation.”

30 percent less
“We left the plots of land with growth potential to grow for as long as possible. The last potatoes arrived at the end of October. The deliveries planned for December 2018 were simply not there. As a result, we supplied about 30 percent less potatoes to Avebe.”

Drought loss
“We did some extra work to make the harvest as good as possible. We also incurred additional costs. For example, we went through a full tank of diesel oil every week to be able to irrigate. Because of the drought we needed less phytophthora sprays. This potato disease caused no problem due to the dry and warm weather. Compared to some of my colleagues I haven’t got much to complain about. We were compensated for some of the loss. Right from the start we had a comprehensive weather insurance policy. The payout covers part of our loss.”

New round
“If we get another dry season, we as arable farmers will be put to the test. There has been an intense drought in the Netherlands before, for example in 2003. But the drought of 2018 is truly unique. I'm sure it will be better this year. If not, we’ll have to increase our irrigation capacity to be able to supply enough potatoes. We depend on nature. In any case, the potatoes for the new growing season were in the ground in good time.”

Markus Jeberien

ARABLE FARMER IN LÜCHOW-DANNENBERG, GERMANY

HAS AN ARABLE FARM WITH 380 HECTARES OF POTATOES, RAPESEED, SUGAR BEET AND GRAIN.

“In our region, the soil in the spring of 2018 was still very wet from the year before. When the rain stopped falling at the end of April, the soil dried out quickly. Our soil is sandy and can’t hold much water. To save the harvest, we had to start irrigating the crop at the end of May. Because of the prolonged drought and heat, the sprinkled soil dried out quickly again.”

Insufficient water
“In recent years, we've had an average of 600 millimetres of rainfall a year. Last year this was only half, 300 millimetres. Half of that fell between January and April. So there was far too little rainfall during the growing season. Early in the year we started irrigating the crops. Under the German Water Act, we can only use a certain amount of water each year. This is usually enough for us, but soon we had used up a large part of it.”

Setting priorities
“Due to the limited amount of water available, we had to choose which crops we continued to irrigate. Not only the availability of water, but also the lack of the right infrastructure to irrigate all fields posed challenges. Our priority was the potatoes. We were trying to save what there was to save. It took a lot of time, energy and money.”

Impact
“The prolonged drought and heat had a major impact. The potatoes grew less and remained very small. The irrigation caused secondary growth. Potatoes start to germinate and form new tubers that grow together. The foliage on the potatoes was seriously wilted. This made harvesting difficult and took more time. We had 20 percent less revenue from the land. I've never experienced such an extremely dry season before. Last winter there was also little rainfall, which means that the soil is still very dry today. We expect to start sprinkling early this year as well. So it could be a similarly difficult summer.”