Business News

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Remote control for stores

A large 4,000t plus potato box store is in construction for a fenland potato grower by Bennett & Co.

Divided into four storage areas the potatoes will be cooled with four Farm Electronics-packaged units. Due to the need to reduce the noise output, the evaporator and condenser fans are slow running and the air inlet cowls and distribution ducts are lined with noise insulating material.

Each storage area will be controlled and monitored by the new Cropscan 12in touch screen controller which is linked to broadband so the store manager can view and control the store environment remotely either on his computer or smart phone.

Bennett & Co’s Mike Bennett says that the company is increasingly being asked to provide remote means to monitor and control crop stores of all types, in many cases being able to upgrade existing storage and drying facilities to do so.

The company is working with AC Bacon Engineering which is supplying and erecting the building on this project. Bennett & Co and Bacon were recently RIDBA building award finalists for a grain store completed during the 2018 harvest for Buckminster Farms.

Sprout suppressant gaining ground in UK market

Sprout suppressant Biox-M has been approved for use in the UK for nearly a decade, and has been used on a wide range of British potato varieties with success.

A potato treated with Biox-M.
Consequences of being left untreated.










Biox-M is well understood and in widespread use with over 10 per cent market share which is increasing, says manufacturer Juno. With increased challenges to CIPC, the share of the market taken by Biox-M is expected to increase at least threefold in the next two years.


100 per cent naturally occurring spearmint oil, extracted from leaves of spearmint (mentha spicata) by on-farm steam distillation, followed by separation and blending to ensure an even (and minimum 70 per cent) distribution of the active L-Carvone.

Suppresses sprouting in potatoes by causing local necrosis of the bud meri-stem with no visible damage to the skin of the tuber.

Is approved for use on organic potato crops and in multi-use stores.

Is widely used on crops grown for the fresh market, with longevity of control well in excess of normal commercial requirements.

Can be used on processing crops stored at up to 10ºC, allowing store managers to address concerns about the development of acrylamide.

Is applied to stores as a hot fog using existing technology, and is most effective if slow-speed internal air circulation is used in-store.

May also be applied with an evaporative process, which maintains a saturated atmosphere more effectively than sequential fogging operations.

Leaves no residue in buildings or boxes.

Business booming for Norfolk manufacturer

Sales of Rockstar de-stoner and Ridgestar bed-formers have increased dramatically over the past three years, according to manufacturer CTM Root Crop Systems.

The range of de-stoners now has six different models ranging from all web machines to all-star machines with rear web, and web and star configurations. All models are available in either 1.5 or 1.7m wide versions.

The CTM Ridgestar Bed-Formers come in either two- or three-bodied versions with additional options of standard CTM body or new convex body, hydraulic folding markers, depth wheels and ripper cultivating tines.

One of four Rockstar de-stoner/separators purchased and working for local farming company Heygate Farms of Swaffham, Norfolk.

Training and trouble-shooting videos have also been introduced on CTM Root Crop Systems’ YouTube channel to assist Rockstar operators in most situations. The short informative videos give guidance and tuition on the main machine functions.

CTM also reports increased sales and enquiries for its CensorStone removal system. This uses advanced technology which incorporates density scanning plates that trigger fast action reject flaps when detecting stones or other hard foreign objects passing over them. This is a standalone unit which can be incorporated into existing grading lines saving on the labour requirements.

The increase in sales and service of the complete CTM range has meant that the company has increased staff numbers in all departments and continues its investment programme ensuring consumer confidence and longevity of all its machines.

40 year celebration for engineering firm

Suffolk based Bye Engineering is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month.

The business was started on 1st May, 1979 by Trevor Bye and his wife Margaret following the completion of Trevor’s five-year apprenticeship with Melton Engineering (now Thurlow Nunn Standen) and a spell working in the workshop at Blomvyle Hall, Hatcheston.

In the early days it was just Trevor and his J4 van. Margaret acted as secretary and assistant, manning the telephone line and often being sent to collect spares.

During the first few years most of the workload was carried out on farms and occasionally in a field as the business had no permanent base or workshop.

Trevor Bye celebrates 40 years of business at Bye Engineering.

The main body of work was repairs to all types of agricultural machinery but it was during the course of carrying out some work for Mr T Gibson that Trevor’s first foray into fabrication work began with a carrot topper rolling off the production line.

In 1984 Bye Engineering built and moved into its permanent premises in Brick Kiln Lane, Melton, from where it still trades today. “Having our own workshops meant more of our work could now be carried out in-house,” says Trevor.

“As the work load increased we took on our first employees, including our son James, our fabrication manager, to cover the wide range of tasks we carry out.  At present we employ seven permanent staff, including our daughter Faye who works in administration and accounts.

“James has now diversified his fabrication and manufacturing skills and produces container modules for offices, schools and galleries for London and local clients in his new premises at the Bye Engineering site.”

Following success with the manufacture of its BE 4WD Power Dolly, Bye Engineering has gone on to design and produce the Hydrostatic Power Dolly, BE410 Potato Crusher, BE1700 Bedmixer, Triple Bedmixer, Re-ridger, Trojan Band Sprayer and Wonder Wheel.

“Our machines are proving to be a great success and, with the assistance of Richard Lapage, our sales co-ordinator, are being sold country wide. We continue to develop one-off machines, modify existing machines and carry out all types of mechanical, electrical and welding and fabrication repair work.

“It seems a long while ago that ‘one man and his J4 van’ started out being his own boss and it has not always been an easy task but it has been, mainly, a rewarding and successful way of life,” says Trevor.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers and suppliers, past and present, for their continued support, and also a big thank you to all our staff and Richard for all their hard work!”

New management team for manufacturer

Crop storage ventilation equipment manufacturer Farm Electronics is now part of the Holland-based Tolsma Grisnich group, the international manufacturer of potato and onion storage equipment.

Farm Electronics, led by managing director Tim Dudfield and production director Paul Jackson has invested in growing the business to ensure a seamless changeover to a new management team, ensuring the continued manufacturing of equipment at its UK site in Grantham.

Tim and Paul have been with Farm Electronics for more than 30 years but retire at the end of the year. To ensure that Farm Electronics can continue to manufacture its products a new management team consisting of Joe Sambridge, Alex Gadsby and Adam Fryer has been appointed.

The new management team at Farm Electronics from left Alex Gadsby, Joe Sambridge and Adam Fryer.

Joe will be mentored by Paul Jackson and is responsible for the purchasing, manufacturing and factory processes. Alex and Adam will be mentored by Tim Dudfield in the field of crop storage design including the producing of quotes, technical information and drawings for customers.

The new team members have collectively 25 years’ experience in the agricultural engineering sector. Joe has extensive knowledge of production processes and manufacturing competencies as well as being well versed in health and safety and human resources tasks. After completing engineering degrees, Alex and Adam have worked in agricultural design engineering roles collectively for more than 10 years being involved with many major design projects as well as gaining a wide customer and supplier rapport.

How much money are you wasting?

Potato growers can be losing money from their business with bag over weights, Pace Mechanical has warned.

The company advises farmers to check their average over weights to identify how much money they are losing this way. Multi head weighers with new and state-of-the-art controls and software can stop the ‘silent money leak’, without making compromises to speed, it says.

Designed with belt in-feed drive and with 10 scales the Pace weighers have a capacity of 22.5t/hr with a minimum overweight per discharge.

The 16/2 (two rows of eight scales small footprint) consumer pack weigher has a capacity of 25t/hr with 5kg weights, with a minimum of overweight per discharge. Even this machine can be combined with export packing machines as it is also able to dump 25kg weights in one dump.

Meanwhile its 16/2 (two rows of eight scales small footprint) export pack weigher offers a capacity of 50t/hr with a minimum overweight per discharge.

This makes the PIM combination weighers the perfect choice for small, large and combined weights, small and large products, regardless if you work with washed or unwashed potatoes, says Pace Mechanical.

First mounted 3-row belt planter unveiled

Potato and root crop cultivation machinery manufacturer Dewulf, has launched the mounted variant of the Structural potato planter – the world’s first mounted 3-row belt planter, it claims.

Available in the UK from importer Niagri Engineering, this version of the planter benefits from the ease-of-use that the Structural 30 is known for, but with new, exceptionally precise depth control, says the company.

The mounted Structural 30, which plants three rows in a bed as standard, has automatic depth control via an ultrasonic sensor, which is not susceptible to track formation and is infinitely adjustable via a control terminal in the tractor cab. This guarantees depth control with precision, so the seed potatoes have optimal growth.

The mounted variant is also exceptionally manoeuvrable, making it ideal for planting fields with smaller headlands. The planter also features the ‘Wave Belt’ concept, which is unique to the Structural 30. This undulating belt bed makes planting on hilly terrain simpler for the operator.

According to Dewulf the planter also has a high operational speed of up to 12kph.

Good feedback from cultivator purchase

A Dutch made cultivator has received excellent feedback from growers since its UK launch last Spring.

The Baselier planter and hook tine combination is a four-row machine with a large hopper at the front with the cultivator mounted directly underneath and the cup planting elements at the back, in order to cut out a pass.

Sales and marketing director for Standen Engineering Edward Gilbert said: “Efficiency and time saving features on this machine include the innovative cup design, enabling it to cope with seed potatoes of up to 95mm in size without having to change inserts for different seed sizes. Plus it has individual row switch off and seed miss monitoring to detect any gaps in planting.”

Shrubhill Farms invested in the new machine after a successful demonstration, having previously run a Baselier 3-bed folding hook tine cultivator and separate Standen 6-row trailed planter on John Deere 350hp and John Deere 220hp tractors.

Tom Fisher, arable and estate manager said: “I had planned to run the combination machine for 24 hours, to account for the fact that we were moving from 6 rows down to 4 and didn’t fully know of the output, but it hasn’t been necessary, due to the high output produced.

“We are on fen land, but we’re achieving forward speeds of up to 5.5kph.

“We’re using less fuel, tractor hours and labour resulting in savings of around £100/ha. I could not be more pleased with my new purchase.”

New grading line sows seeds for a productive future

When planning to upgrade its potato grading line, Norfolk-based contract farmer and potato grower B&C Farming decided to look for a custom-built facility with all the company’s current and future requirements in mind.

The company’s current grading line was nearly 30 years old and managing director Tony Bambridge knew that advances in equipment automation and efficiency offered some significant savings in labour and costs so he approached Tong Engineering for the project.

B&C Farming, based in Marsham, works with Greenvale AP and McCain to supply seed potatoes direct to growers. Operating a ‘just in time’ delivery system using the company’s own lorries, seed is supplied at planting. A new grading facility would ensure they can continue to produce more, higher-quality seed potatoes in line with ongoing contract demands.

“Specifying a new grading line is a very individual process,” explains Tony. “It takes time to determine all the processes you want to achieve from the facility, while understanding all the advanced handling capabilities on offer with the latest equipment on the market.”

With a reduction in labour costs a key objective, a Tong side-eject box tipper feeds crop onto the new line. Potatoes are lifted into the boxes at harvest before being graded in January and February. “It’s a fine line between keeping the forklift drivers busy, and them being too rushed; risking accidents or causing the line to stop and wait for crop,” says Tony.

“The side-eject box tipper not only reduces forklift movement, allowing us to cut the number of forklifts required for grading, but it also ensures a continuous flow of crop onto the grading line.”

Labour requirements at the crop cleaning and grading section of the line have also been taken into consideration. “Taking care of the complete grading system from start to finish, Tong integrated the Tomra FPS optical sorter into the line for automatic detection of stones and clod in the unwashed crop. With this removal of debris now being performed automatically, inspection staff can focus on grading for quality of the potatoes. Size-grading is taken care of by Tong’s EasyGrade screen grading modules,” says Tony. “What’s more, inspection staff are now in a fully-insulated, heated and sound-proofed cabin, allowing for much more pleasant inspection conditions.”

The new grading line at B&C Farming also features Tong’s box filler the Midi EasyFill, which gently transfers graded and sorted crop back into boxes for storage. In addition, a series of Tong vertical lowerator box fillers are used for high capacity yet gentle box filling. “When crop comes out of store and is ready for delivery to customers in March, Tong’s UniFill big bag filler tips the crop onto a second line where it passes through final inspection and is gently filled into 1.00 or 1.25t bags,” says Tony.

“We’ve almost doubled the throughput of our grading facility while cutting out a forklift operator, and we’re maintaining, if not improving, quality. We are very pleased with the new system,” he adds.

Award-winning customer service

On-going Brexit uncertainties present challenges to many industries, and few more so than agriculture, where the possibility of a major shortage of fruit and vegetable pickers could have a huge impact.

But Wisbech-based agricultural machinery company Agrimech may have the automated answer to many a farmer’s prayers with its Titan palletising system.

Launched in 2017, the Titan is the first UK-produced mass-market palletising system, manufactured, supplied and supported by Agrimech, and offers many features which make it the market leader.

Favouring a bag-forming gripper head over the usual finger-style, which reduces the chances of bag damage, the stainless steel Titan has an easy-to-use touchscreen system. It can stack to a height of over 2m and has a capacity of 15tph.

Agrimech’s in-house team of support engineers means clients can count on award-winning customer service, and the Titan helps Agrimech to supply a complete end-of-line automated bagging process.

Combined with the Hydra, the first British-made multi-headed weighing system, launched at the start of the year to coincide with Agrimech’s 10th birthday, the Titan demonstrates just why Agrimech has won so many admirers and built such a strong reputation among customers and fellow agriculture industry professionals alike.

Total irrigation control

Over the past 20 years the ‘Wroot Water System’ has led the field with drip and sprinkler irrigation, says the Yorkshire-based business.

The company has made the system modular to fit any size field and adapted it to suit various crops. Wroot Water has taken the valve control and infield monitoring to a new level using a combination of different communication technologies, suggests the firm.

“We can now programme the valves remotely, monitor water flow, soil moisture and air temperature all from the office,” says Wroot Water managing director, Anthony Hopkins.

“We are also able to view this data on a smart phone or tablet which makes the Canopee irrigation control system very versatile and user friendly,” he adds.

The software and apps are free so there is no on-going cost, continues Mr Hopkins. “The Canopee is easy to use, easy to monitor and informs you of potential problems before you visit the field. This is a new irrigation control system that can be retrofitted to existing Wroot Water systems as well as other makes of irrigation systems that are available.”

The new control system has the flexibility to operate without mains power or wires. It is a standalone set up that improves precision irrigation allowing the amount of water for each valve to vary according to soil type and crop growth stage.

“With water becoming scarcer, we need to look at how to irrigate more efficiently, so if you can avoid run-off and irrigate to match the infiltration rate of the soil you are half way there,” concludes Mr Hopkins.

Half a century of self-propelled technology

Grimme is celebrating 50 years of self-propelled technology this year.

In 1969, Franz Grimme senior came up with the idea of developing the first self-propelled harvester. He combined the front part of a Deutz tractor with a single-row potato harvester from the Europa-Standard series. Following a positive response from growers, a second self-propelled machine – the DS Series soon followed. This was the first two-row self-propelled potato harvester to be completely developed by Grimme. The DS 100 had a 3.5t bunker with a 100hp Deutz engine.

In 2017, Grimme presented its latest potato harvester – the self-propelled four-row Ventor 4150, which has a 15t bunker. The Ventor was voted Machine of the Year 2018 and was also awarded the DLG Silver Medal for its innovative harvesting system.

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