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Potatoes – including BP2019

Potato show to tackle industry challenges

With growers facing a changing industry and political uncertainty, this year’s British Potato Industry Event offers a varied and topical seminar programme – ranging from sourcing alternatives to lost chemicals, to finding funding for development post-Brexit. Sarah Kidby reports.

Organised by AHDB, the bi-annual event brings together the entire potato industry, from growers and handlers to processors and retailers.

AHDB’s potato strategy director Dr Rob Clayton says the main focus for this year is helping growers to prepare for and deal with change. Show visitors will be able to hear from researchers who have been exploring the alternatives to CIPC, as well as conducting national field trials for mechanical and chemical alternatives to diquat. Growers who have hosted some of the research work will also take to the stage to discuss the results so far, and there will be opportunities for questions and discussions.

Additional presentations outside of the main programme will include a keynote open meeting staged by the National Farmers’ Union, focusing on the latest issues relating to our trading relationship with Europe. The Nematicide Stewardship Programme will also lead an open meeting.

AHDB says the event is set to host a record number of exhibitors, with one in five coming to the show for the first time and launching entirely new products and services. Meanwhile, many regular exhibitors will also be bringing innovative new ideas.

Show director Steve Wellbeloved comments: “Just looking at agronomy, there are new methods for indoor seed production using controlled environment technologies. While at the other end of the crop cycle, new monitoring systems can literally ‘sniff-out’ the very first signs of trouble in potato stores.”

What to look out for

While it may not immediately jump out from the seminar programme,
Dr Clayton recommends attending the ‘Managing the future of your business’ session with two Herefordshire farmers, Russell Price and Martin Williams.

“It is a session that looks at some of the soft skills and tools you need to be a successful farmer in today’s rapidly changing world,” he explains. “Russell and Martin have done a lot of work looking at why they farm, and how they can be more successful as businessmen and managers of people. They’re happy to share their experiences and discuss the future; we hope lots of others will join them.”

Dr Clayton notes that as the show falls three weeks after the 31st October deadline for Brexit, the final session on day one (‘Funding and development in the post-subsidy era’) will take stock of the current situation. Commenting on supply and demand problems for potatoes in the UK, he says it is still very early to know how the market will settle down, but the live AHDB production estimate on day two of the show will give growers some additional insight.

What’s new this year?

BP2019 will offer a Storage Network, giving all growers who store a chance to have a one-to-one visit from a storage consultant.

“We are working with agronomists and independent potato consultants across the country to give them the results of our research as soon as we have them, and then funding them to come to your store and help you look at the changes you’ll need to make post-CIPC,” Dr Clayton explains.

“Growers will be able to sign-up for their visit at the show, and we’re expecting plenty of interest.”

As in previous years, machinery will also be a big feature. New to the event this year is an outdoor display area, which will play host to large farm machinery covering all aspects of the industry – from seed to supermarket. Meanwhile, hall 2 will house a number of working exhibits demonstrating advances in post-harvest crop handling and processing.

Business hub

Business topics will take centre stage in a special Trade and Innovation Hub (hall 1, area 114), where the Department for International Trade will look at export opportunities, while trade associations will be available for informal discussion on key industry matters.

Alongside them in the hub, the Knowledge Transfer Network will highlight the wide-ranging support available for potato businesses of all sizes, which are keen to improve competitiveness through innovation. This will include practice case studies and informal presentations running throughout the show.

CPD anyone?

For those keen to top up on CPD points for professional registrations, up to 12 BASIS points will be available across the two-day show. NRoSO points are also available for show attendance.

Popular harvester choice in the UK

Machinery company Dewulf has revealed that a total of four Kwatro Xtreme harvesters will be running in the country this year. The self-propelled, four-row sieving harvester maintains the full 3.6m width of its sieving webs throughout the entire sieving path, which makes the machine truly unique in its segment, the company says.

Four Kwatro Xtreme harvesters will be running in the country this year.

This harvester, with a large 17m³ bunker, is ideal for growers who plant in 4 x 90cm, or grow in beds of 180cm. After sieving, the product flow reaches the hedgehog unit for initial intensive cleaning, to optimise cleaning results in the following cleaning module (sieving module, axial module consisting of 36 rollers or Flexyclean).

Furthermore, thanks to its 900mm wide tracks and the super-wide rear wheel (Mitas 1250/50R32), the Kwatro Xtreme promises perfectly flat ground after harvesting (with minimal compaction), has high traction, and is highly manoeuvrable.

New machine lightens the load for veg grower

Loading times have been dramatically reduced at one of the UK’s largest vegetable producers and processors, as a result of investment in a new machine.

MH Poskitt Ltd – known as Poskitts – is a family-owned farming business based in Goole, East Yorkshire. It was the first to receive delivery of Tong Engineering’s new FieldLoad PRO machine in September following its launch in January.

The FieldLoad PRO from Tong Engineering has reduced load times for Poskitts

The FieldLoad was introduced as a ‘next generation machine’, based on Tong’s Fieldloader which it has manufactured for several years. Managing director Edward Tong said the new model was part of the company’s product development programme, which focuses on equipment advances that ensure equipment meets industry requirements and market demands.

“The emphasis from growers on reducing crop miles and soil on the roads continues to be a fundamental element when specifying new grading equipment,” Mr Tong said. “In addition, changes in contract specifications for many growers has meant that loading crop straight into bulker lorries at the field-side is an increasingly desirable way of doing things. This is where we have seen great demand for the new FieldLoad PRO machine since its launch.”

At approximately 15m long in transport mode, the self-contained FieldLoad PRO configured for MH Poskitt features a high capacity reception hopper feeding Tong’s 6 Row EasyClean separator. After crop has passed over the EasyClean, it is transferred to Tong’s adjustable PU spiral sizing unit with high-speed self-cleaning function, for effective removal of smalls. An insulated 4-man inspection cabin houses the machine’s intelligent Auto-Touch HMI touch-screen control unit and completes the system, before crop transfers to Tong’s new-style slewing and foldable 1.3m wide cart elevator for high capacity loading.

Fast and even lorry loading is achieved by Tong’s advanced Wi-Fi operated touchscreen remote control, ensuring gentle transfer of crop into the bulker trailer. The new machine also comes complete with road-going lights, suspension, brakes and a super-silent onboard generator which provides power efficiency for in-field operation. This can be bypassed for mains power when operating on-farm.

“We already operate a Tong Fieldloader which has proved to be very reliable across the multiple sites where it is used,” said managing director Guy Poskitt. “With increased contract demands we needed a second field-loading machine, and I’m pleased to say that within the first few hours of running Tong’s FieldLoad PRO, we could see the efficiencies that the new system will bring.”

Poskitts farm manager Jamie Gutteridge, said the team was impressed with the new system, which replaced an old system that featured a grader and supplementary loading elevators.

“The FieldLoad PRO has reduced our lorry loading times by at least half. The machine is also versatile across all our main root crops. We’ve already used it to load potatoes, carrots and parsnips in one day, with excellent cleaning results.

“Another huge benefit is that the FieldLoad PRO is fully transportable by tractor, and in less than 10 minutes we can have it completely folded into transport mode and ready to move on from field to field.”

Dutch agricultural company adds new brand to UK market

The Tolsma-Grisnich Group, which offers solutions for product storage, processing and packaging, has added its third brand, Grisnich, to the UK market. Grisnich has been manufacturing handling and grading equipment for 60 years, gaining international knowledge and experience. The brand provides crop handling solutions – receiving, dry-cleaning/de-soiling, grading and conveying produce into weighing, packaging and palletising, or into washing installations.

It has been three years since Farm Electronics became a subsidiary of the group. Both the Tolsma and Farm Electronics brands have their ‘specific’ UK or European potato, onion and carrot storage solutions, as well as offering hybrid solutions with a mix of UK and Dutch equipment.

Avoiding costly breakdowns in potato equipment

Those currently lifting potatoes will understand that, during the busy harvest season, it is vital to fit equipment with the best wear components. This helps to avoid costly breakdowns and maintain machine efficiency for longer, which can often be affected by premature component wear. Rubber and polyurethane wear parts therefore play an essential role in many aspects of the potato industry, including soil preparation, planting, harvesting, cleaning and packing.    

This need for reliability, durability and value for money is why the leading OEMs, dealers and farmers use Clifton Rubber’s range of rubber and polyurethane components, which include harvester rollers, de-stoning stars, cleaning stars and cleaning coils to name a few.

Clifton Rubber is a British manufacturer of general rubber and polyurethane components and has been manufacturing wear parts for the potato industry for over 40 years. The company will be exhibiting at the Midlands Machinery Show at Newark Showground (JCH2 Stand 18), and at the British Potato Event at the Harrogate Yorkshire Event Centre (stand 122) on 20th and 21st November 2019. 

The group says it recognises the challenges associated with providing a healthy and assured food supply for a growing global population. However, it believes innovation and development is the key to reaching this goal and overcoming these challenges.

Grisnich, which has supplied equipment to industrial potato processors in the UK for several years, says it recognises the growing need for custom-made flexible solutions for its customers. Traditional standard technology is no longer sufficient and the demand for professional, intelligent solutions is on the up.

Innovative new product allows for in-field variability

SoilEssentials Ltd, the award-winning, Scottish precision farming specialist, is ready to introduce its newest product, Tuberzone.

Aimed initially at the seed and salad potato grower, this new-to-the-market innovation, – developed to allow for in-field variability – tracks and predicts yield and size throughout the season, giving you the optimum time for desiccation – maximising the peak value on a crop. New developments extend Tuberzone into starch, packing and processing crops, where it can be run on a large scale to inform the growers and supply chain of likely yield, size and total production.

Tuberzone allows for in-field variability

Three years ago SoilEssentials embarked on this ambitious project, supported by InnovateUK and in collaboration with McCain (the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products) and Grimme (the innovative manufacturer of potato, beet and vegetable technology). This year, supported by the European Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KTIF) through the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP), SoilEssentials has partnered with Grampian Growers, a farmer-owned co-operative based on the east coast of Scotland and SAC Consulting, SRUC’s consultancy division to increase the uptake of the innovative Tuberzone potato technology.

Tuberzone is relatively new technology based on GPS, drone and satellite. Associated data from the activities required for Tuberzone are gathered, processed and analysed in the SoilEssentials cloud platform, Kore. A combination of all the sources of information come together, with a level of precision farming wizardry, to give the grower the pertinent information.

Tuberzone is the first precision farming solution for potatoes that delivers on improved quality, predicting potato yields at the ideal time for crop management and enhances the way growers work already by reducing the number of crop digs needed. SoilEssentials managing director, Jim Wilson explains: “Tuberzone is a Precision Farming solution that aims at not just cutting costs, increasing yield or improving resource use efficiency. It is a whole-season process aimed at helping growers, merchants, processors and retailers to fulfil market requirements. This will increase financial yields more than physical ones, reduce food waste and give more control of the crop to the professional potato grower.”

If you wish to find out more, SoilEssentials will be exhibiting at BP2019 on Stand 170.

Planning for potato storage without CIPC

With the withdrawal of approval for CIPC as a sprout suppressant on potatoes in-store finally sinking in, those who have not looked at alternatives will now be rushing to gain a little experience before CIPC disappears completely in mid-2020. Juno (Plant Protection) Ltd says many stores will be treated with Biox-M – a well-established treatment to control sprouting in potato stores – for the first time this autumn.

The company says it is essential that growers and store managers appreciate that the use of a new product requires particular diligence in store and crop management, as well as attention to the technical and best practice guidelines.

Biox-M has been approved for use as a sprout suppressant in the UK for nearly a decade, and has been used on a wide range of British potato varieties with excellent sprout control. For fresh market and organic crops, Biox-M is well understood and in widespread use; it is part of the normal tool box and the company says market share is increasing rapidly as growers gain experience.

The processing sector is now playing catch-up and seeking to learn as much as possible from the 2019 harvest. Trials using Biox-M in large commercial processing crop stores on the continent have proved highly successful, and a number of British growers of processing crops are undertaking commercial scale trials with the 2019 crop.

Biox-M is a 100 per cent naturally occurring spearmint oil, which suppresses sprouting in potatoes by causing local necrosis of the bud meri-stem, with no visible damage to the skin of the tuber. It is approved for use on organic potato crops and can be used in multi-use stores. It is widely used on crops grown for the fresh market, with longevity of control well in excess of normal commercial requirements, and should be applied just before eyes open.

This product can be used on processing crops stored at up to 10°C, thus allowing store managers to address concerns about the development of acrylamide. There is no harvest interval before crops can be removed from store and it is applied to stores as a hot fog using existing technology. It is most effective with internal air circulation used to ensure even distribution in-store. Biox-M may also be applied with an evaporative process, which maintains a saturated atmosphere at lower cost. In addition, the product leaves no residue in buildings or boxes. 

Engineers build refrigerated potato box store

Bennett & Co has recently completed a refrigerated potato box store, consisting of four 1,000t storage areas – each with Farm Electronics refrigeration/air mix units.

Each storage area is to be controlled and monitored by the new Cropscan 12-inch touchscreen controller. This is linked to broadband so the store manager can view and control the store environment remotely, on a computer or smartphone. 

At the rear of the building (pictured) there are external condenser units and sound insulated air intake cowls. Along with insulated air distribution ducts and slow speed evaporator fans, this allows for significant noise reduction – which is required given the building’s close proximity to neighbouring properties.

In addition, acoustic cowls have been fitted to existing potato stores on the site to meet the noise levels required. The four storage areas each have a Challow Products timber suction wall to ensure even air distribution through the boxes.

Mike Bennett of Bennett & Co designed and managed the project, working with A. C. Bacon Engineering on the building; DG Scales on the ground works; and Harnwell Electrical on the electrical installation.

Coates depot to add convenience for farmers

Clients of machinery company Grimme UK will now be able to order parts from either the Swineshead HQ in Lincolnshire, or the Ben Burgess Ltd depot in Coates, near Peterborough.

In a move to increase customer convenience, Grimme and Ben Burgess designated the Coates depot as a Grimme parts partner. Parts can be ordered and delivered or collected from Coates, cutting lead times for customers sourcing parts locally.

Ben Burgess is one of Grimme’s leading UK dealers for sales of new and used potato equipment and supports a substantial number of its customers across East Anglia. Grimme sales manager Tom Goose welcomed the move and said it will set a new standard for parts support across the region, particularly in-season, when they often need to be sourced at short notice.

Putting robotics in the spotlight

Automated systems specialist, Pace Mechanical Handling, will put robotics under the spotlight at the Potato Industry Event (Stand 220).

The company’s managing director and sales director, Nick Cesare, said: “We are demonstrating the capabilities of our competitively priced Universal Sack Closer (USC) for smaller growers as well as the GP7 pick-and-place robot on our stand this year.

“It’s exciting to be working in an industry where robotics is playing an increasingly greater role in the manufacturing process.

“We are pleased to be attending the Potato Event again this year and we are looking forward to showcasing our systems to existing and new clients and sharing some of that excitement with them.”

The USC incorporates the Newlong stitching machine, combined with customised handling equipment that adds versatility to close sack filling solutions. The machines can handle any size of pre-made sack with flexible options on sealing, designed to meet customer requirements across a range of applications for food and drink processing, aggregates and animal feed. 

It is also conveniently height-adjustable and mounted on a heavy duty-frame. The touchscreen display allows simple and easy control of timers and machine setup, and a thread break device is incorporated as standard to prevent unstitched bags being created.

The GP7 pick-and-place robot can be tailored to a customer’s exact needs and is designed to grasp, lift, and position items precisely, whatever their shape or size. According to Pace, this opens up ‘endless possibilities’ in terms of what produce or product types can be handled, and forms an integral part of the company’s palletising solutions. 

Updated de-stoner for UK growers

The latest generation of de-stoner from Norfolk manufacturer CTM Harpley – the Rockstar2 – is now in work for UK potato growers.

Growers including Heygate Farms and Eastgate Farms both used previous Rockstar models to provide the best possible growing conditions for their crops and have taken on the new model.

Mr Wace of Eastgate Farms said he was pleased with the separation achieved, but with a greater output than his previous machines, not to mention reduced running costs and downtime. He also commented that the results were improved further by ridging with the farm’s new CTM Ridgestar Ridger. “It left a much wider and cleaner trench and also a more even-sized bed of soil, which enabled full use of the de-stoner separation area”.

Meanwhile, Ropa’s Keiler potato harvester is now being demonstrated on Norfolk farms. Launched in the UK when there were concerns over chemical restriction, the Keiler requires no pre-flailing as the machine has a diviner web to remove the haulm and trash from the tubers.

CTM has also had great interest from customers in the quick release lifting head, which can be achieved in no more than 15 minutes, to enable different lifting units to lift crops of onions, carrots and red beet – a true all-round machine.                

Best practice advice for 2019/2020 potato storage season

With the end of CIPC crop treatment in sight, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is offering its top tips for sprout suppression best practice as we move into the potato lifting season.

Recommendations for CIPC-treated stores

With CIPC losing its authorisation for use on 8th January 2020, this season is the last to see harvested crop treated with CIPC in the UK and European market. As always, final CIPA applications must be made in accordance with CIPA Stewardship and statutory label requirements, the maximum doses being as follows: 24g per tonne for the fresh market (limited to a single application of 12g per tonne for crops stored below 50C) and 36g per tonne for processing. It is worth noting that, although these are the maximum doses to ensure compliance, it is strongly recommended that a minimum effective dosage approach is taken in order to mitigate any CIPC residue contamination in subsequent seasons. For more guidance on CIPC compliance, visit

Alternative post-harvest treatments

If you have a new store which has not yet received a CIPC treatment, the AHDB strongly recommends that no CIPC is applied this season. Alternative post-harvest sprout suppression treatments are ethylene or spearmint oil (plus maleic hydrazide (MH) as a field-applied product), although research trials indicate that these are not as consistent as CIPC in effectively controlling sprouting, with certain varieties of potato responding better than others to their application. For ethylene in particular a gradual increase in concentration is required when introducing it into stores. Combination treatments of MH applied during the growing season plus either ethylene or spearmint oil introduced post-harvest yield yet another set of results, significantly reducing sprouting in storage trials undertaken at Sutton Bridge. Make sure to consult your contractor and/or approval holders of your sprout suppressant of choice for guidance.

Historical use of CIPC

If you are currently storing potatoes in stores that won’t be treated with CIPC this year but have received such treatments in the past, these stores present an opportunity to test for CIPC residual levels to aid research. Any collected data will help towards informing regulators on a temporary Maximum Residue Level (MRL), and the AHDB would be keen to hear from you.

If you’re unsure of your sprout control strategy or want to check best practice is being followed, whatever your choice of suppressant, the AHDB offers a free Storage Advice Line so you can speak to one of its storage experts.

Field-level weather station to aid precision farming

Every farmer knows how much rainfall, temperature and relative humidity can vary from field to field. With this in mind, Metos UK Ltd will be launching its new field-level weather station, ‘LoRAIN’. Harnessing modern communication infrastructures for work planning and disease management, it’s an essential sensor set for your field. Asked about the new product, managing director David Whattoff said: “Following customer feedback for a simple, low cost sensor which can be placed in every field post-planting, our LoRAIN device monitors rainfall, air temperature, humidity and leaf wetness. Combining these measurements enables growers to plan their irrigation and spray programmes more effectively, especially where distant fields are concerned.”

Installation takes just five minutes and the data is available without subscription using the FieldClimate app or through the John Deere Operations Centre. LoRAIN also works from an everlasting energy source – requiring no batteries to be changed. 

Concrete solutions for potato stores and more

Whether you’re looking to lay down a new concrete floor in a freshly-built potato store or replace a previous floor, SJ Stanberry & Sons Ltd is a family-run business offering unique turn-key solutions, with a highly skilled and dedicated workforce. Taking on a wide variety of projects from yards, aprons or new storage buildings for independent farmers to a 12,500m² distribution centre, SJ Stanberry & Sons Ltd has vast experience of laying concrete floors and has been offering its services to customers nationwide since 1980. The teams work hard to hone their skills and improve knowledge and working methods, resulting in a fast, professional brush, tamp or power float finish, with a high customer satisfaction level. The company offers groundworks and preparation, internal or external concrete flooring for all types of stores and sheds, aprons, anaerobic digestion tank bases and steel fixing.

From experience, SJ Stanberry & Sons Ltd recognises that every site is different and poses its own challenges, for example difficult access, hills, ground conditions and so on. These differences require a flexible approach and versatility, with customer conversations and concerns key to the final service provided, which always aims to meet the needs and budget required.

Water conservation agent shortlisted for new award

Wetting and water conservation agent H2Flo, by ICL, has been shortlisted as a finalist in the first National Potato Industry Awards.

“At a time when many growers are looking to reduce water consumption and improve farm efficiency, H2Flo has been proven to help significantly increase potato yields and reduce water use,” explains Debbie Nolloth, ICL specialty agriculture sales and marketing coordinator.  

“It is essential farmers manage water effectively to help tackle issues such as water scarcity, crop quality and production costs. Containing a unique blend of surfactants, H2Flo promotes improved water infiltration into the soil, enhanced moisture distribution within the soil profile − both vertically and laterally − as well as increased water retention.

“H2Flo can also reduce soil hydrophobicity in water repellent soils. Ultimately, it improves overall water use efficiency.”
Lancashire-based agronomist John Cairns (right), of ProCam County Crops, offers advice to potato and carrot growers with soils ranging from sandy loam to peaty soils – many of which have no access to irrigation. 

“I’ve been working with H2Flo for over four years and growers are seeing good results with significant boosts to yield as well as quality,” he explains.  In a number of half field and replicated trials, potatoes growers applying H2Flo have reported increases in the yield of marketable size potatoes.

“An application of H2Flo around emergence, followed by another half dose four weeks later, has shown the best results – delivering a good return on investment. Those with irrigation are reporting significant improvements to moisture distribution following the first pass. Many of my potato and carrot growers are now treating the majority of their fields with H2Flo.”  

ICL’s UK trials have shown this improvement in productivity can directly boost farm profits by over £1,000/ha. Where irrigation is not available, H2Flo helps make rainwater more available to the crop. For convenience, H2Flo can be applied a number of ways, either tank mixed with, for instance, a blight spray, or by trickle irrigation. 

“With water becoming such a key issue for UK farmers, we are delighted H2Flo has been shortlisted for this new National Potato Industry Award,” Debbie says.

ICL’s stand at BP2019 and CropTec this autumn will also feature controlled release fertilisers (CRF). Part of the company’s vision for a more sustainable method of farming, CRFs can deliver benefits in efficiency, economy and ecology. Two controlled-release NPK fertilisers ranges – Agromaster and Agrocote – will also be showcased on the stand.

According to ICL, employing its patented E-Max technology, 30-40 per cent of the N in Agromaster is coated and released over a 2- to 3-month period − depending on the product selected − even if rainfall is high, without leaching away from the root zone. The release of the product is controlled by temperature only. The remaining N is uncoated, promoting early development. Agrocote is ICL’s coated urea product.

Technical personnel will also be on hand at the event to talk about ICL’s portfolio of Nova Straight water-soluble fertilisers, including the patented PeKacid. 

The winners of the first National Potato Industry Awards will be announced at the Harrogate Yorkshire Event Centre, on the first night of BP2019 on 20th November, 2019. 

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