A HEREFORDSHIRE logistics company that manages the supply of potatoes from 18 growers to crisp giant Tyrrells, and also has a diverse cleaning business, is a contender for the Farming Contractor of the Year award in the Three Counties Farming Awards.

Gamber Logistics has its roots in the county’s potato industry, but has seen its cleaning operation grow “enormously” over the years too.

Managing director Patrick Gething-Lewis has been involved in the potato trade in Herefordshire for 30 years, and is pleased the cleaning side of the business is also growing.

He said this growth has been on the back of broiler chicken production increasing. Rearing and free-range chicken enterprises also require Gamber’s services.

However, Patrick said the firm loves the challenge of any cleaning opportunity and jobs are as diverse as solar and anaerobic digester (AD) sites, dairy, pigs and stables.

Gamber now handles about 70,000 tonnes of poultry litter in the Three Counties area, employing three members of staff who also manage two AD plants.

It is investing in top-of-the-range equipment to make the difficult job more pleasant for staff, and is working on an exciting project with Harper Adams University to develop a driverless sprayer for cleaning.

“The driverless sprayer is to avoid staff working in areas with hazardous chemicals which makes it very difficult to find suitable operators,” explained Patrick.

He added: “The latest technology that Gamber is looking at is a remote operated washing system recently featured in the Farmers Weekly.”

Alongside safe cleaning and staff health and safety, Gamber also makes sure it takes care of the environment.

Patrick said environmental responsibilities are taken “extremely seriously.”

“We are constantly monitoring chemical usage and application methods in order to minimise run off as well as minimising water wastage.

“By regularly meeting customers and chemical suppliers Gamber challenges the rates of chemicals and water used. The collection of washings and their correct disposal is always a serious concern to the business.

“Using orifice injectors on all of the washing pumps allows accuracy of chemical usage and reduces any wastage. All of the washing vehicles are fitted with ball valves therefore when the 1,0000litre tanks are full water is not being wasted.”

Gamber also provides a service which tests various types of manure for its nutrient content and feeds this information back to the customer so that appropriate quantities of material are applied to land or AD plants.

Gamber Logistics’ continued growth saw it move in November last year from Peterstow to Grafton, Herefordshire.

It’s hoped the new location, which is closer to Hereford, will attract more cleaning staff. More jobs means a boost to the local economy.

“As a relatively large employer, and as a business that is prepared to expand, the employees income that is spent in Herefordshire has to be a benefit to the greater community.

“All being well, we would like to think that this would increase over time.

We see ourselves as an integral part of the poultry industry in the Three Counties and would hope that the Gamber business continues to grow as the poultry industry continues to grow,” said Patrick.

The Grafton site is also allowing the business to diversify.

“The new site has 13 acres of land with a diversity of enterprises including 10 acres of Christmas trees which are sold to the general public, a clay pigeon and laser clay ground, clay pigeon and cartridge sales and firewood sales,” said Patrick.

The Three Counties Farmer Awards are being organised by Newsquest Media Group, publisher of the Three Counties Farmer, and its sister newspapers and websites the Stroud News and Journal, Gloucestershire Gazette, Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard, Worcester News, Hereford Times, Malvern Gazette, Ledbury Reporter, Evesham and Cotswold Journal, Tenbury Wells Advertiser, Kidderminster Shuttle, Bromsgrove Messenger, Redditch Advertiser and Droitwich Advertiser.

They are supported by headline sponsor Harper Adams University, and entries are invited for 12 categories.

The deadline for nominations is Wednesday, April 10.

Winners will be announced at a gala dinner at the Three Counties Showground on Thursday, June 13.

Visit www.herefordtimes.com/awards/tcf/ to find out more and submit a nomination for the awards.