Tour a Farm with Impressive Technology
To get the best yield and high-quality potatoes, there is an impressive amount of technology utilized at Friehe Farms. Flying drones and satellite imagery over the fields capture thousands of photos in a short period of time that can tell if anything in the field is abnormal. Photos that may have something unusual going on are automatically isolated for Travis Meacham, the farm’s production manager, to investigate. At Friehe Farms, eight rows of potatoes are planted in a single pass of the tractor over the field. Meacham uses GPS (Global Positioning System) technology down to the sub-inch to ensure the entire planting process is precise. The farm’s irrigation system can also see what rate of water is being used, what direction the water is moving, and any issues that may arise in real-time.
In the storage facilities, the temperature and humidity are measured one-tenth to one degree to maintain a consistent temperature. This helps in avoiding any wet or hot spots on any of the potatoes that could cause damage. The technology in the storage facilities can also monitor if any fresh air or air conditioning needs to be let in.
Potatoes are the primary crop for Friehe Farms, but they also grow other crops at their operation. Crop rotation is a strategy used to improve soil health and take some of the disease pressure away. At Friehe Farms, potatoes are grown every year, but within each field, crops rotate once every four years.
Washington is a good region for growing potatoes because of its long, warm days in the summer and cool nights, as well as the access to water through irrigation. As the potato plants above the ground grow and the space between the rows starts to close, potatoes are developing below. The potatoes will then be harvested sometime in September and October each year.