Ukrainian Potato Day proves its position as Ukraine’s leading potato event with over 600 visitors
Last week, the second edition of “Ukrainian Potato Day”, the only specialized event for potato production in Ukraine, successfully concluded with more than 600 specialist visitors over 26-27 August 2021 in Chulakivka, Kherson region in the south. Held at one of the largest farms for seed potato cultivation in the country, the outdoor event, covering 20 hectares, attracted potato experts, who inspected at first hand 76 varieties presented by seed companies. The trial plots also included crop showing the effects of various input material such as plant protection and fertilisers, alongside live machinery demonstrations and a campus exhibition. Post-harvest technologies were demonstrated in the brand new potato storage complex that was officially opened on the first day of the Ukrainian Potato Day. Premiering at the event was the “Irrigation Show & Conference”, which focused on the latest irrigation methods and irrigation system reform.
“The Ukrainian Potato Day 2021 which attracted top farmers and experts over two days has confirmed its position as the leading field event for potato cultivation in Ukraine. We are satisfied that we have met the needs of potato professionals for practical information that they can obtain directly in the field. The potatoes grown in the trial plots were planted some two months ago and offered visitors the chance to get up-close to the crop in the ground. The new conference ‘Irrigation Show and Conference’ focused on irrigation policy issues as well as on practical and expert information in this specialist area. The conference was attended by 100 visitors, including high-ranking representatives from the government, confirming that the decision we made to introduce this conference was right,” said Yuliya Bondarenko, Managing Director of DLG Ukraine LLC.
The Ukrainian Potato Day is organized in close cooperation between the Ukrainian Association of Potato Producers and DLG’s subsidiary, DLG Ukraine LLC offering an excellent business platform for farmers, input suppliers as well as wholesale buyers and food processors, the next Ukrainian Potato Days will be held in 12 months. The new venue farm will be announced shortly.
A 5,500 hectare farm across two locations
“This year we had chosen the location of our event at Adelaida farm, which is one of Ukraine’s largest private potato seed farms. With professional potato farmer Sergiy Rybalko on board we have been fortunate to have found an excellent partner, who understands the needs of potato farmers both in terms of crop production methods and optimal machinery choices. We are grateful for his support this year and for his significant contribution to this successful event,” commented Yuliya Bondarenko.
Founded in 1992, the Adelaida farm operation is a dual-location enterprise comprising 5,500 hectares in total, and is supported by seven generations of accumulated experience in producing not only seed potatoes but also winter wheat, rye, winter rapeseed, sunflowers, mustard, soybeans and corn.
Potato production with precision farming machinery
A large-scale operation, the farm is located both in the Zhytomyr region with 2,700 hectares and in the Kherson region with 2,800 hectares, the site of the Ukrainian Potato Day. With some 550 km between the sites, the farm needs carefully selected machinery and technical solutions to not only operate efficiently but also to face the irrigation challenges in the regions.
“All our equipment now works with navigation as well as sensors that show soil moisture. And we now see a significant effect from using precision farming. The increase in yield as a result of using precision farming on the farm is about 20 percent. The knowledge about these benefits and of course, which equipment is suitable for our farm, I have gained at field exhibitions like the Ukrainian Potato Day, which is why I immediately agreed to host this important event, said host Sergiy Rybalko.
In addition to seven heavy and 14 light tractors, the Adalaida farm’s main equipment is high-end machinery for potato growing including four planters, four potato harvesters, sprayers and related tillage equipment. Specialized potato equipment similar to that used every day on the farm were presented by manufacturers in live demonstrations on the field.
Irrigation equipment – a must in this region
Irrigation equipment is important in this region as evidenced by the popularity of the new Irrigation Show & Conference at the Ukrainian Potato Day. Sergiy Rybalko recently purchased his own large-scale irrigation equipment for the 2,000 hectares on the part of the farm based in the Kherson region. Over the last three years, he has replaced aging irrigation systems with center-pivot irrigation machines, which enable stable and high-quality watering.
“This equipment is very important for our potato cultivation because growing potatoes without irrigation, even in Zhytomyr region which has precipitation of around 550 mm, is becoming more challenging. Potato is a crop that needs a lot of water. I am always on the lookout for new irrigation solutions,“ adds Sergiy Rybalko.
A diverse family affair
“Our family is the seventh generation in agriculture. Everyone works together on the farm, even my father, who started working in 1947. It’s not just a family working together, we have built a true combat team, which means we can meet any challenges. The question of what kind of business to do was never an issue in the family, despite the fact that everyone has got different education, from economists, specialists in international law to historians. By the way, no one has a classical agronomic education. And we consider this a big plus. No one thinks in patterns,” explains Sergiy Rybalko.
Always looking for new technologies
The farm is focused on applying new technologies to increase efficiency and yield. Therefore, the farm’s management regularly attends seminars and specialized exhibitions and also offers its machine operators annual training sessions. “Continuous training and study trips are important and give positive results in the end. The most interesting is the local experience that you get constantly at the field day events, both for potatoes and other crops, but also international trips – to Sweden, the USA, Germany and the Netherlands,“ says Sergiy Rybalko.
“Agriculture is an open-air production plant” – challenges are the daily business
“We call agriculture an open-air production plant, so natural anomalies have the greatest impact on yields and the outcome we plan. It can be both an abnormal drought, which happened in 2020 in Zhytomyr, and torrential rains in the south in 2021. Both years were absolute outliers, and they are remembered not only by those who work on the farm, but even by the guards,” remembers Sergiy Rybalko.
“Nature constantly presents various surprises. It can be torrential rains during potato harvesting, and then potato harvesting takes place not in one and a half months, but in two or even three months,” adds Sergiy Rybalko.
Certified seed producer
The Adelaida farm is a certified potato seed producer. “We import the elite seed potato from abroad, mainly from Germany and the Netherlands. Around 200 hectares are dedicated to seed potatoes, 200 hectares to table potatoes plantings with another 500-600 hectares for planting processing potatoes. “We plant potatoes in late February, and in late May we begin harvesting. And in fact, all the agricultural season long, until the end of October, we are harvesting potatoes,” adds Sergiy Rybalko.
In the south, the cultivation of the second planting of potatoes is practiced. This is not a classical planting on the previous culture. This is a potato that is planted in May or June and dug in October,” says Sergiy Rybalko
The farm employs 135 permanent staff with another 100 seasonal workers. Soils are mostly light, sub-sandy and low-humus. The farm applies complex fertilizers and saturate the soil with potassium. “We constantly analyze the soil and are currently working with the U.S. laboratories, which give recommendations on the content of macro- and microelements in the soil and give their recommendations for balancing soil quality,” he adds.
The Ukrainian Potato Day is held at alternating locations that are similar to Sergiy Rybalko’s farm operation.