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Vegetable & Root Crops

Sugar beet crops under heavy rust pressure

A wet and warm start to summer has added to the pressure facing sugar beet crops by creating conditions potentially favourable to rust (uromyces betae), the principal disease threat to crops in recent seasons. Many growers will no doubt still be concerned by the threat posed by virus yellows and the unprecedented numbers of peach potato aphids (myzus persicae), the dominant vector for virus transmission.

“Crops are growing well but some are in various stages of development with the most backward just meeting within the row while forward crops met across the row several weeks ahead of the longest day. Add in the virus threat posed by abundant numbers of peach potato aphids and it is clear that many crops are under more pressure from pests and diseases this year,” says British Beet Research Organisation head of science, Dr Mark Stevens, adding that the rains in early June will have helped crops move on but have also ensured conditions favourable to disease spread.

“Conditions appear to be conducive for rust,” he comments. “Research shows that if crops are to be protected, the first fungicide should be applied at the first signs of disease, typically July, and a second spray applied about four weeks later,” he adds.

Disease considerations

With much to ponder, what are the main points growers need to consider if crops are to be suitably protected? First, rust is still the disease to look out for. “The threat posed previously by powdery mildew has not manifested for several seasons, except 2018, although rust should be the principal concern. It was late coming in last year, but that doesn’t mean it will be in 2019,” says Dr Stevens.

Second, even low-level disease can affect yield. “The impact of low-level disease on crop performance continues to be an area of research and the difference in varietal susceptibility, but there is evidence, in some seasons, to suggest that yield potential is already negatively impacted before the point at which symptoms become visible on the plant,” adds Dr Stevens.

Third, fungicides are effective in controlling disease, but timing is important. Disease scores from Bayer’s fungicide trials in 2018 at Bracebridge, Lincolnshire and Aspall, Suffolk highlight the importance in application timing. Across the two trials disease in the untreated plots averaged 39 per cent, though this hides the extent of the range which was 17 per cent for the Bracebridge trial assessed on 31 October and 60 per cent for the Aspall trial assessed on 25th September. 

Overwhelming evidence

The evidence demonstrating the benefits of fungicide protection across contrasting seasons is now overwhelming, says Bayer campaign manager for root crops, Edward Hagues. “For the greatest yield protection Escolta (cyproconazole + trifloxystrobin) should be applied at the first signs of disease and then again about four weeks later.”

Where applications of Escolta were well-timed – late July and late August in the case of 2018 – disease control reached 94 per cent, whereas relying on a single application of Escolta in early July meant control slipped to 65 per cent at Bracebridge and 85 per cent at Aspall into the early autumn.

“The point to note is that of timing. There is no set date at which Escolta should be applied, rather that it is applied at the first signs of disease. This typically occurs in the latter half of July, though crops should be monitored from the start of summer in readiness for Escolta to be applied when disease appears.

“The advice given to growers over the past six years therefore remains valid and where it is followed it has consistently delivered high levels of yield protection,” says Mr Hagues.

While rust was reported in all fields there were also sporadic levels of cercospora leaf spot with the disease found at low levels in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire.

“As in most historical seasons conditions were largely unfavourable for cercospora leaf spot in 2018, its occurrence not proving damaging to sugar beet crops last year,” he adds.

New kit worth £500,000 installed as factory extension reaches ‘halfway stage’

The expansion of Scotts Precision Manufacturing’s new factory has reached the halfway point with the installation of £500,000 of equipment.

The vegetable harvesting equipment manufacturer has this month taken delivery of a new Street 5t overhead crane, a CNC lathe and press brake with a polyurethane casting machine due to be installed next month into its Slate Worx site near Boston.

Building work on the 6,500ft2 extension started in January. 

Funded in part by the Rural Development Programme for England LEADER Fund, the development will see Scotts double the size of its factory.

“It’s fantastic to take delivery of the crane and have the lathe in position and a new press brake,” says director Derek Scot. “2019 has been an exciting and challenging year so far. We’ve been enjoying unprecedented demand for our Evolution separators and Trinity haulm toppers, which is humbling.

“The new factory will give us much needed space and the new equipment will allow us to increase productivity, introduce new services, such as machining and pressing of steel services and will allow us to bring some more of our manufacturing process in-house. 

“We’re well on course to achieve our ambitions of having a state-of-the-art production facility which will allow us to cope with the growing interest our machines are receiving, not just from farmers in the UK but around the world.”

In the past two months, Scotts has delivered machines to growers in Belgium, Holland, Norway, Sweden, North America and Canada and recruited two new people to its team as a result of the increase in demand.

Service department keeps machines running to maximum efficiency

UK manufacturer of vegetable handling and processing machinery, Haith Group has introduced a new service and maintenance department.

Customers taking out a service agreement for Haith machines or needing help to maintain equipment will be supported by a new team, headed by service director, Chris Haith and Darren Wilcock, service team leader, who is celebrating his 36th year at Haith.

Newly appointed service technicians Andrew Elmhirst, Josh Finelli and Michael Hampshire will work alongside long-term service engineers, Karl Smith, Chris Walsh and Jonathan Oliver.

“Hundreds of farmers, growers, food producers and processors rely on our machines as part of their operations and ensuring that they are running to maximum efficiency is crucial,” says Chris. “While we make our machines as easy as possible for people to use, they are intricate and sophisticated pieces of engineering which need to be looked after correctly. Our new service team members have undergone extensive training so they know each of our machines inside and out and are best placed to ensure the optimum performance of our graders, washers, polishers and tipplers.”

As well as working to service schedules, Haith’s team will offer a rapid response service for people needing immediate help with their handling machinery.

The new team will be based at Haith’s Doncaster head office but will look after customers across the UK. Annual service packages start from £900.

Onion store project completed

A 1,700t onion store has been completed by Bennett & Co for JS Means (Terrington).

Due to the nature of the marsh soil conditions piled foundations were required before a large reinforced base slab was constructed on top.

The drying floor is a hardwood deep bearer timber floor supplied and constructed by Flach & Leroy, designed specifically for this type of application with the large airflows needed in the first stage of onion drying. The floor is constructed from a double bearer and the stability of the bearers is maintained by lateral struts along the length of the floor giving an overall height of more than 0.5m.

Fans are inverter controlled to keep the starting loads to a minimum and enable the airflow to be closely controlled by the Vegtec controller with crop air speed sensors and air duct pressure sensor. It also controls humidity with Farm Electronics air mixing louvres when drying and with the refrigeration when required for pull down and maintenance of crop temperatures during storage. It can be remotely accessed by GSM modem to a mobile phone or computer. Drying air temperature is controlled with a Harvest Installations modulating gas burner.

For any new storage projects, Bennett & Co suggests visiting the project planning pages on its website.

Hired help available at harvest

Designed to assist with bulk harvesting operations, Woodbridge, Suffolk based Bye Engineering has been manufacturing the Power Dolly for over 15 years and, new for this season, it is available for short- and long-term hire, says the company.

Enabling tractors to move articulated trailers in the field, the Power Dolly is robust and reliable and built to withstand all operations and conditions when harvesting carrots, parsnips, silage, cereals or potatoes.

With a minimum 150hp tractor-towing requirement, operational speeds range from 0.5–12kph from 12-forward and 6-reverse gears, using 540 and 1,000 PTO speeds through a heavy-duty mechanical transmission. This, together with flotation tyres, selectable 4wd and diff-lock to both axles means the Power Dolly is truly an “anywhere, anytime tool”, says Bye Engineering.

There are currently two units available to hire. For more information on hire or buy, contact Richard on 07534948361 or 01394 386008.

Weed control spanning over four decades

In recent years vegetable, allium, herb and nursery specialist crop growers have lost a number of crop protection actives, either as products are revoked or as they go through re-registration and lose crops and uses. But the classic post-emergence herbicide Dow Shield (clopyralid) has been adding crops to its label as well as adding Extension of Authorisation for Minor Uses (EAMUs). Clopyralid has been on the market for over 40 years and continues to be an important herbicide for the specialist grower.

Being registered for over four decades, Dow Shield has exceeded all the necessary registration hurdles for today’s market, including five years ago the launch of a new and improved double strength formulation, Dow Shield 400. Throughout this time it has become an important active ingredient for the control of difficult perennial and annual weeds such as creeping thistles, volunteer potatoes, spear thistle, corn marigold, groundsel, mayweeds and smooth sow-thistle. The more concentrated formulation comes in Corteva’s recognised advanced packaging with self-seal cap technology with no foil to dispose of, making it easy to handle, optimising tank filling operations and minimising the risk of point source contamination.

Dow Shield 400 has 20 different crops on its label including swedes; turnips; mangels; bulb onions; broccoli/calabrese; cabbage; cauliflower; fodder beet; forage maize; linseed; grassland; ornamental plant production and Brussels sprouts, as well as most cereals and oilseed rape. It has over 50 EAMUs including asparagus; garlic; shallots; chard; spinach; spinach beet; Chinese cabbage; choi sum; pak choi; kale; collard; outdoor leafy herbs; borage; miscanthus; hops, outdoor leeks and salad onions plus some fruit crops too.


For allium growers Dow Shield 400 should be used from 1st March and when these crops have at least 2-true leaves, but before 6 weeks prior to harvest. Make sure the crop has adequate wax layers, points out Corteva.

Cabbage, cauliflowers and broccoli can also be treated from the 2-true leaf stage or when well established if transplanted up to 6 weeks before harvest ,and Brussels sprouts between the 2-true leaf stage up to 9-true leaves. Its dose rate is 0.25-litres/ha for annual weeds, 0.5-litres/ha for perennials in a single application or up to 0.75-litres/ha total maximum dose from two applications in a programmed approach.

Peas or beans should not be planted in the same year as the treatment with Dow Shield 400. For any EAMU, growers should obtain a copy of the notice of approval via the Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) website, ADAS offices or NFU, adds the company.

Demand increases for suction ventilation in potato stores

With some of the newer potato varieties requiring more positive ventilation, there is an increasing demand for suction ventilation systems in potato box stores, says storage specialist Farm Electronics. Until recently this has required a roll out canvas cover over the suction aisles. While this is an effective solution in terms of air movement, it does come with the increased health and safety risk to personnel carrying out crop inspections, inadvertently stepping on canvas and falling into the aisle.

As an alternative to the canvas strip, Farm Electronics is now able to offer an Inflatable Air Bag system, which has been used for many years in Holland. This system is combined with a suction duct built round the refrigeration plant, which has narrow air return doors aligned with the airbags. This forms a 450mm wide suction aisle between two rows of boxes, enabling air to be sucked back to the cooler through slatted sided boxes.

This is just one example of how the partnership between Tolsma-Grisnich and Farm Electronics is being utilised – a hybrid system using a mixture of UK and Dutch equipment, points out the company.

“Farm Electronics is now able to offer this system as an option for UK growers,” commented the company’s technical sales engineer Adam Fryer. “The system offers improved air movement through the potatoes, increased safety and ease of operation,” he adds.

Finely chopped potato haulm

The potato haulm pulveriser from Edwards Farm Machinery overcomes the need for cross conveyors.

The machine’s three stationary knives allow the machine to create a very fine chopped haulm. The haulm will then easily drop through the web and haulm rollers of the harvester.

The haulm pulveriser is fitted with 5 vee belts transmitting over 100hp to the rotor.

The machine can be fitted with all long flails for flat beds, or shaped flails for ridged beds. It can also be fitted with deflectors to deflect the haulm away from the ridges.

Edwards Farm Machinery has been a specialist in agricultural and horticultural machinery since 1984. The family run business imports, manufactures and custom builds machines to suit customer requirements.

1,000th vegetable washer sold

Vegetable handling equipment specialist Haith group is celebrating selling its 1,000th vegetable washer. 

The milestone machine rolled off the production line at the end of last month and is destined for Branston’s Lincoln factory. 

As well as being the 1,000th vegetable washer to be sold since Haith invented the modern barrel washer in 1961, Branston’s machine is the eighth Haith Supa-Wash to be sold since it was introduced in March 2018.

Haith’s barrel washers – the spokeless steel washing barrel – were first introduced in the early 1960s. In the 1970s Haith produced the brush roller bed, which was superseded in the 1980s by the Hydro Flow washer, with its pump which moved the produce from the barrel. At the beginning of this century, Haith launched the Self Clean washer, a machine that is still operating in food packers and processor factories across the world.

The latest Supa-Wash is a step forward in another way too says Haith Group managing director, Nigel Haith. “It is packed with technologically advanced features, such as copper split bearings on the top shaft for easy maintenance, and on the main drive shaft, a SEW energy efficient shaft mounted barrel drive and externally mounted stainless steel bearings for longer life.

“The machine is further enhanced by the presence of a gentle air operated vertical rising crop discharge control gate, a laser cut stainless barrel with slots or holes depending on the produce which will be washed, a full pintle rubber lining inside the barrel and HMI touch screen control with intelligent feedback.”

Innovative product to cut food waste

A British crop quality monitoring specialist has launched a damage prevention device designed to help solve the problem of food waste worldwide.

Martin Lishman has designed and developed a shock and temperature monitor which could help the food industry reduce the damage to fresh produce during handling and transportation.

ImpacTrack is a monitoring and logging system which records movement and temperature, and is available with a range of shells which match the dimensions of fresh produce including strawberries, apples, onions, potatoes and eggs.

ImpacTrack is a monitoring and logging system which records movement and temperature, and is available with a range of shells which match the dimensions of fresh produce, including strawberries, apples, onions, potatoes and eggs.

By recording and reporting on the journey of fresh produce through handling, packing and transport processes, food producers and hauliers will be able to make informed modifications to their processes to reduce the amount of food which is regularly wasted because of damage such as bruising.

Dr Gavin Lishman, managing director of Martin Lishman, said: “ImpacTrack can be used to monitor any item as it travels down the production line. Results are transmitted in real time using Bluetooth to the ML Sensing iOS/Android app, to help identify damage sources and improve quality control.

“Operators can also use the application to record the journey of fresh produce during shipping.”  

In a test by the UK based arm of the Greenyard Group, the technical team was able to record the gravity force their avocado crop was subjected to and any potential bruising this could create. The objective of using the ImpacTrack was to reduce potential wastage created during the grading process and improve material utilisation.

Greenyard Fresh UK’s technical manager, Sebastian Janik, said: “Following the results of the ImpacTrack tests we were able to implement modifications to the grading and packing equipment which has reduced the g-force impact to the fruit.

“Prior to the implementation of the ImpacTrack, the grading and handling processes were creating levels of wastage. However, with a number of straight forward modifications to the equipment our fruit utilisation has increased with negligible wastage levels.”

Joining forces in mechanical weed control equipment

German company Zürn Harvesting GmbH & Co. KG, has acquired a substantial stake in Garford Farm Machinery Ltd, a move which will strengthen the position of the UK-based manufacturer of technological mechanical weed control solutions.

Zürn Harvesting develops, produces and markets technology for agriculture, mainly cutting platforms for combine harvesters and forage harvesters as well as plot combine harvesters, which are used in plant breeding and research.

Garford products cover a number of categories for mechanical weed control under the Robocrop brand. Robocrop precision guided inter-row hoes use cameras to detect the crop rows and then accurately guide the hoe shares in such a way that weeds are removed but the crop is protected.

The Robocrop InRow Weeder makes it possible to hoe between rows but also within rows, between the plants. The intelligent camera technology recognises individual plants as the weeder passes and controls special hoeing elements to cut the weeds precisely around the crop without damaging it.

For chemical crop protection, Garford also offers the Robocrop Spot Spraying technology, in which the chemicals are applied specifically and precisely to the weed or crop plants to be treated.

Machines for targeted weed control are in ever-increasing demand from farmers around the world, points out Garford. The main areas of application are in organic farming and vegetable growing, but there is also an increasing interest in conventional farming, especially for row crops such as maize and sugar beet.

The Garford and Zürn families will co-operate closely in the future which will be advantageous for both sides, particularly in terms of sales and production, says Garford. The existing Garford distribution channels will remain mostly unchanged, especially in the main European and North American markets. The development and production site in Peterborough will remain the company’s headquarters and will continue to be managed independently by Philip and Janet Garford.

The company says that it is currently hiring additional personnel to meet the growing demand.

Rapid chiller ensures tip-top condition

In readiness for the forthcoming asparagus season, the Specialist Installation Division of TNS installed a refrigeration system on the east coast of Suffolk. The system incorporates a ‘Rapid Chill’ pod for two pallets and a humidifier to maintain a high humidity.

The twin pod allows the operator to ensure a pallet of 50 trays of asparagus can be chilled quickly to remove the field heat.  An auxiliary fan on the pod is run either on an operator set timer or based on crop temperature.  The pallet is then taken off the pod and stored in the general area of the cold store.

The operators “love it” according to the farm owner, who is contemplating an additional pod for another unit. The whole system has provided much better temperature control, improved shelf life and ensured the crop is delivered to the market in tip-top condition, he says.

The business is very confident that the system will handle the crop as ambient temperatures rise and demand increases, he adds.

Energy-efficient cooling system

Industrial refrigeration specialist JD Industrial Cooling (JDI) has designed and installed an energy-efficient cooling system to enable potato farmer Albert Bartlett to meet demands for its new chilled potato products.

Supplying over 20 per cent of the UK’s fresh potatoes, including to major retailers, Albert Bartlett has invested in its Airdrie production site including tasking JDI to provide a new central temperature control system for the whole process factory including refrigeration plant room, storage facilities and packing areas.

JDI customer Albert Bartlett required full design, installation and commissioning of a complete energy-efficient ammonia/glycol (HFC-free) cooling system to enable the business to meet the demands of its new chilled potato products.

JDI’s solution features a Sabroe low temperature screw compressor at 1,000–3,600rpm, three Sabroe (extended maintenance hours) high temperature reciprocating compressors with a speed range of 500-1,500rpm, hybrid condenser, two spiral freezers to deliver mash potato in sealed trays, 16 glycol air coolers and three end suction glycol pumps, each with a flow rate of 242m3/hr.

Rejected heat from the drive systems in the refrigeration switch room needed to be managed, with another glycol air cooler sized at 20kW installed to ensure that a room temperature of 20–25ºC is maintained.

Equipment capable of operating at very low temperatures was a key consideration of the brief as well as hygiene associated with food production.

In collaboration with JD Cooling Group’s other business units, the automation system consisting of two network protocols: Ethernet and Profibus, was designed and installed by JDI Controls. As JDI standard, the electrical automation system has been designed with no single point of failure and has specific software that helps to optimise the running conditions of the complete system.

Brassica demonstration open day

Following the success of the first open day last year, Hutchinsons’ Brassica Demonstration Site Day will be held at Bayholme Farm Old Leake, Boston, on 11th July in conjunction with the Allium & Brassica Centre, by kind permission of F Daubney & Sons.

Visitors will have the opportunity to view how new near-market brassica-related herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides are performing and compare them with current commercial practise, explains Hutchinsons vegetable technical support Peter Waldock.

“For example, many of the new fungicides coming on the market are predominantly protectant rather than having a knock-down effect, so applications have to be better targeted to optimise efficacy,” he says.

“There will also be plots looking at biostimulants, crop elicitors and foliar nutrition products,” he says.

“Our trials explore maximising efficacy in kale and Brussels sprouts, and the knowledge gained can then be related to all brassica crops,” he adds.

In addition, work on better understanding of soil management will be highlighted, and the Healthy Soils team will be present to discuss how to get the most from soil. This will be accompanied by demonstrations of strip tilling and Omnia Precision Agronomy, providing an exciting insight into the ways farm yields can be improved through agronomy.

Also on display at the Old Leake site will be Hutchinsons TerraMap, the first high definition soil scanning system in the UK (see p26 for more info).

Visitors will also have the opportunity to discuss their needs with the Hutchinsons’ team and also the leading manufacturers involved in the vegetable sector, including Bayer, BASF, Syngenta, Certis, Corteva, Adama, Belchim and FMC.

Transfer trailer added to product portfolio

Vegetable handling equipment specialist Tong Engineering has been appointed UK distributor for the Hawe-Kuw 2000 root crop transfer trailer from German manufacturer Hawe Wester.

The announcement comes as Tong continues to develop its range of handling equipment to offer the complete handling solution from post-harvest to pack.

“Manufactured with up to a 30m3 holding capacity, the transfer trailer runs alongside the harvester, receiving crop directly from the harvester for cleaning and loading at the field side; keeping tractors and soil off the road, while reducing crop mileage,” explains Tong Engineering sales manager, Richard Knighton.

Featuring heavy-duty construction with a mounted steel hopper and integrated rolling floor, the Hawe-Kuw 2000 is suitable for use on multiple root crops including potatoes, carrots, onions, beetroot, parsnips and bulbs.

At the outfeed, the transfer trailer is fitted with an adjustable coil cleaning unit for effective removal of soil from crop, feeding a 1,200mm wide folding elevator, which allows crop to be gently transferred to bulker lorries at the side of the field, at capacities up to 120t per hour.

“With a transfer height of 4.1m, the trailer ensures very gentle handling while a waste bunker to the underside of the cleaning unit ensures all soil and debris can be emptied back into the field,” commented Richard. “The trailer is the ideal option for growers who want to clean crop and bulk-load in the field,” he added.

“While the coil cleaning unit within the transfer trailer is proven to be very effective, we are already working with Hawe Wester to offer growers the option of Tong’s Easy Clean separator as the specified cleaning unit, which will bring even greater flexibility and unrivalled cleaning results on all crops, in all conditions,” concluded Mr Knighton.

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