Grower profile – Andy Bailey

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I caught up with Andy by phone as he rode his quad bike back to the office

Name: Andy Bailey
Age: 51
Location: Southbridge
Work: Farmer
Grows: Potatoes, peas, cereals (wheat & barley) and farms sheep

How did you first become involved in the potato industry?
I’ve been on the farm my whole life. Mum & dad grew a few acres of spuds here, a few years ago now. Dad was on the farm for 79 years, then I took over and mum moved into Leeston.

What does your role involve, and what are your responsibilities?
Along with my partner June, we run the whole place. We have four full-time staff; Izzy, Jarrod, Harry and Renee. Our kids John, Samantha, Kelsi and Hayley come home and help with spud grading.

What do you enjoy most about working in the potato industry and how do you maintain your enthusiasm?
The thing about farming and growing crops is that every day is different. There are always challenges, which keeps you alive.
I like a challenge. The day you stop challenging yourself is the day you give up on life.

What are the biggest challenges you face working in the industry, and how do you overcome them?
Our biggest problem is psyllid. It’s constant work to keep up with the learnings and the latest information. You have to keep an eye on local R&D and overseas news. I’ve used an agronomist, Nick Proudfoot (from Seed and Field), for the last couple of years to advise me on these things.

How do you raise public awareness of your brand and your potato varieties? What channels do you use?
I don’t. Our sacks have AC Bailey on them, but I don’t bother with marketing, our seller does all that. We’re in supermarkets, we sell to Mr Chips for processing and we export to Fiji.
We grow or 5 or 6 varieties, Moonlight and Agria are the main ones.
We grow 60 hectares of spuds on leased land and another 40 hectares on the home block.

What new innovations, research and/or practices has your business implemented recently?
We’re mostly looking at the best use of fertilizer to increase yield and quality of shape. Yield pays the bills.

Where do you see opportunities for growth in the New Zealand potato industry?
I reckon there’s probably more room for ready made meals. There’s a new generation of consumers who want easy meals.
“Too busy to wash spuds? – hopefully they’re not too busy to eat them !!!”

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still on the farm.

How do you think more young people could be encouraged to study and take up jobs in the potato industry?
I reckon there needs to be more promotion of the ITO aspect. It’s a way of gaining a practical qualification.

I always enjoy talking to Andy. He’s always working whenever I encounter him and he’s a real ‘salt of the earth’ guy.