In 1902 a distant relation to the current directors, Jabez Papworth, pioneered the commercial growing of the King Edward potato. In 1924 Leonard Frank Papworth, the grandfather of the current managing director, moved to Norfolk from Cambridgeshire where he launched LF Papworth as a mixed farming enterprise.
More than 90 years on and the business continues to innovate. It is a recognised leader, growing high-quality salad, ware and crisping potatoes among a diverse portfolio. It supplies a number of processors and retailers including Branston, McCain, Tesco and Waitrose, and has earned a raft of plaudits from customers.
The business has pioneered several mechanical developments on de-stoners and harvesters that have been adopted and produced by manufacturers. It has also trialled new varieties and growing techniques to improve the final product. This includes new varieties that have high yields and resistance to a number of pathogens to reduce the area of potatoes in production.
Irrigation has been improved from an overhead rain gun to a more accurate boom system with smart computerised reels and a mobile phone start-up in the pump house. This saves valuable time and fuel during busy periods when resource application is critical.
Growing four varieties of salad potatoes for three customers who pack for all the major retailers requires a sophisticated management and recording system, which has been developed in house. Each box is thoroughly checked for suitability before loading, a label is attached giving the harvest date, variety, field and customer in barcode or QR code, so the product reaches the customer in the best possible condition.
More recently the business has built a reputation for the quality of the long-term storage of salad potatoes and developed a unique method of loading potato boxes to minimise damage. It is always looking to improve integrated pest management by growing resistant varieties, using trap crops to break soil pest life cycles and regular monitoring. Every effort is made to reduce inputs without compromising on the quality of the final product.
ICL has developed a rich portfolio of patented technologies and products serving the speciality agricultural sector with controlled-release, foliar and fertigation brands. Lallemand Plant Care specialises in biofertilisation, biostimulation and biological plant protection products.