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Growing Innovation: Issue 9, June 17, 2016

Innovation key to success for dynamic potato farmer

Kerri-Ann Lamb, Wickham Farms, Qld

 

Queensland potato farmer Kerri-Ann Lamb believes that no matter how experienced you are, there is always more to learn. Wickham farms has been growing hard vegetables in Queensland since the 1960s.

Kerri-Ann was working as a teacher but decided to join her family in running the business, when her mother retired a decade ago.

“Coming from a farming family that has had their fair share of tough times, my mother was pretty adamant that her three daughters needed careers that could support them if times were to get tough, so I was encouraged to pursue my career in teaching.”

Nowadays, Kerri-Ann works with her brother, sister, husband and brother-in-laws, who pool their knowledge for the betterment of the business. To expand on this knowledge, Kerri-Ann traveled to the Berlin Fruit Logistica Trade Show earlier this year.

“I was really keen to get over there and see what I could learn and I was not disappointed. To have so much fruit and vegetable innovation in one place was amazing.”

Hort Innovation funded this opportunity for nine vegetable levy payers as part of the 2016 European Industry Leadership and Development Mission.

“Any time you can get out and see what other people are doing is a way to reflect on your own practices, not just by looking back on the past but using that information to add to your existing knowledge and reach a higher level of understanding.”

Kerri-Ann is excited about applying these new ideas to Wickham Farms. “Europe is definitely way ahead of us when it comes to the way they think about vegetables, especially potatoes. Some of their manufacturing ideas would be easy to implement here while other ideas would need more thought and time to adapt to our particular market.”

From their four locations in Queensland, Wickham Farms supplies supermarkets, wholesalers, food services and food manufacturers across the state.

“We have total control over our supply chain. We work with our customers to design and develop systems to supply specific products.”

Kerri-Ann said the best part of her job was finding new ways of doing things.

“I love that I can be continually surprised by the innovation within the agricultural industry. Farming can be very rewarding, if you put in the hours, patience, persistence and wear as many hats as possible. Likewise, if you source as much advice as you can from professionals and do the difficult work, you can look back on years of hard work and be very proud of your achievements.”

It was hard to remain viable with rising business costs and decreasing margins for reinvesting in the farm but research helped, Kerri-Ann added.

“There are always many solutions for any particular problem and researchers help the industry by exploring ways to solve problems, thus supporting it to stay vibrant and sustainable.”

 

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