Lynn Dickman is a research agronomist on a Wisconsin potato farm who strives to make potato chips the best that they can be. They do this through on farm research trials involving new varieties, different fertilizer plans, new in field products and field management strategies.
Lynn grew up on a dairy farm in southern Wisconsin, USA. She was very active in Future Farmers of America and 4-H, developing many social and leadership skills that have served her well throughout her career. One of Lynn’s favourite activities was participating in dairy quiz bowl where she loved learning and remembering as many questions and answers as possible. She was valedictorian of her high school class and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in dairy science. During university, she had the opportunity to intern on a dairy farm in France. The biggest thing that surprised her was how similar their dairy industry was to the USA. Living in a different country and being able to speak the French she had studied in college completely changed her view of the world.
The following year she took an internship on a large research potato farm. It was a different experience to the dairy farming which she had grown up with, however she immensely enjoyed being out in the potato fields all summer. Upon graduation, she was hired full time at that potato farm and had the opportunity to complete her master degree in Horticulture in June 2016. With her increased education, her job duties have expanded which is helping her to grow toward her full potential.
In 2017, she added responsibilities of managing four people and coordinating all collection of field and storage bin research samples.
Lynn’s responsibilities change as the seasons do. One of her main duties is overseeing all research plots. The farm is one of the largest growers of chipping potato varieties for potato chip processing in the USA. She manages and collects data which includes: the potato variety selection, fertilizer, spacing, and scab. This year there are just over five miles of plots that are hand planted and hand harvested in the autumn. Lynn will handle about 10,000 pounds of potatoes by hand after each harvest while collecting the needed data!
During the growing season, she collects and analyzes data on sprout development, emergence, canopy cover, crop damage, bulking, and any other areas needing data collection and analysis. During potato harvest, she takes on a quality role for bruise free management, taking and grading samples to ensure equipment and operators are minimizing the number of bruised potatoes being loaded into winter storage. In the winter, she collects potatoes for sugar and fry quality samples.
Lynn loves being a research agronomist because it gives her great joy to see all the potato seed come in, get planted, grow, be harvested, and stored until the potatoes are made into potato chips. Every year is completely different and presents a new set of challenges to learn from.
"From these learnings, we get a chance to grow a better potato crop than the last. Seeing this continuous cycle fascinates me and motivates me."
It’s awesome to see how you’ve grown into such an active contributor to the potato industry and agriculture industry Lynn. Openly embracing the new opportunities that come your way. Keep striving, we can’t wait to see where your full potential leads you!