A new two yearresearch project will harness the latest aeronautic industry technology todevelop testing tools that will help crop store owners to optimise theefficiency of their premises.
The 800,000 projectis 70% funded by The Technology Strategy Board and is industry led, with leadpartner being Crops Systems Limited, the leading store designer and developer.
Other partnersare: Branstons (crop store operator); Stored Crop Conservation (fogging); FarmEnergy Centre (energy efficiency); The Technology Research Centre Ltd (CFD anddesign software) and Aceto Agrochemicals Chemicals Corporation Ltd (CIPCdeposition).
Scientificknowledge and validation for the project will be provided by Sutton Bridge CropStorage Research and Cranfield University.
Managing Director Ray Andrews says CranfieldUniversitys involvement is crucial because inability to achieve even airflowis the biggest reason for poor store performance.
Benefits fromdevelopment of a successful tool would be multiple, he suggests, enablingoperators to reduce energy use and crop wastage, while also helping achievemore efficient CIPC use, which could help ensure its continuing availability:
We know thatover half this countrys potato stores are inefficient. But many owners arereluctant to make improvements unless they can be sure their investment isgoing to earn rewards.
But theefficiency of any potato store is largely governed by the ability to get evenairflow throughout the store. Latest research suggests some 60% of currentstores fail in this regard, leading to raised costs and increased crop lossesdue to problems like shrinkage.
Poor airdistribution also risks inefficient CIPC usage, which can lead to excess residuelevels in some parts of the store, while in other parts the crop is at riskfrom insufficient coverage.
The partnersaim to develop a tool using detailed maps of airflow, heat/mass transfer andCIPC deposition that will enable operators to take appropriate remedial action inany store when uneven airflow is detected and so achieve optimum storeperformance.
The number ofnew stores constructed every year is comparatively small, so one crucial aim ofthis project is to create a solution that is retro-fittable to existing stores,so its benefits can be widespread and so of maximum value to the industry.
When thesavings in energy and CIPC – allied to the reductions in crop wastage – areadded up, we believe there is potential to save the industry 50 million/year.