Potato growers upbeat about viability of AFBI technology
Research by AFBI scientists on safe transportation of ware and seed potatoes has brought benefits for a local potato grower.
Mr George Little of AFBI examines some potatoes tested in the ‘hot box’.
Mr Thomas Newell from Kilkeel has been using with great success technology developed by a Swedish Company and evaluated by Mr George Little of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute at Newforge in Belfast and says “The research work undertaken by AFBI has allowed us to transport our potatoes with greater confidence about their appearance on arrival and without the increased cost of shipping in refrigerated containers. Our customers are now content that the quality of potatoes we ship will be maintained throughout the transportation process. A potato merchant in Portugal said that a recent shipment of potatoes was the best that he had ever received and the bags were completely dry at unloading. Under normal shipping conditions, we estimate that good annual savings could be attained by using the absorption techniques evaluated by AFBI.”
Basically, the technology utilises a chemical desiccant which is placed in ‘dry box’ shipping containers to reduce relative humidity when sending potatoes abroad.
Mr Little has been working with growers to evaluate the entire period of transportation of potatoes. Two containers, with calcium chloride desiccant placed inside, as either ‘Absortop’® or ‘Absorpole’® units and a container with no added desiccant were monitored on a 21 day journey to the Canary Islands. Data loggers within each container recorded relative humidity throughout the journey. Chemical desiccant reduced humidity by three or four percent, which greatly improved the appearance of the potatoes. Without any chemical desiccant potatoes become wet during transportation, which can lead to the increased development of rots.
In conjunction with the chemical desiccant research, Mr Little is engaged in ‘hotbox’ testing seed potato stocks before exportation. The ‘hotbox’ test, which detects latent rot in stored seed potatoes, involves keeping tubers in warmth and saturated humidity, which replicates conditions during shipping.
All pre-shipping tests have been fully validated over a four-year period and have proven useful in detecting latent blight and soft rot in stocks. The addition of standardised damage to tubers before hot-boxing has provided a good test for the detection of dry rot and gangrene.
The ‘hot box’ tests will become commercially available from 1 April 2007 to potato growers and merchants.
For further information contact Mr George Little at +44 (0) 28 90255 255 or email email@example.com