NEW STORE BEATS TARGETS
A range of innovative features is helping a new potato store at Gayton, Norfolk, set some excellent standards for storage costs, suppressant usage and final product quality.
The 5,000 tonne store is run by grower Ian Mason and located at J & C Farms’ premises at Gayton, Norfolk.
It is divided in two, either side of a covered loading and grading area. Each half contains two 1,250 tonne bays made from load bearing concrete walls, with under-floor laterals running out from a central ventilation tunnel.
Ventilation is via six roof-mounted fans, four of which are fitted with heaters so the temperature of the air above the crop can be managed as well.
It uses Crop Systems’ new style ventilation louvres, made from a single pivoting panel of the same material as the store wall. These are less prone to damage and leakage than conventional louvres, and effectively become part of the wall when closed.
The new store was designed and equipped by Crop Systems Ltd, Happisburgh, and is just becoming to the end of its first season, having produced some excellent figures.
These include storage costs of £1.64/tonne in one store and just £1.14 in the other. Sprouting suppressant usage has also been minimal.
Nick Glasspoole, one of the partners in the business, says getting the store design and equipment right is producing tangible and valuable benefits:
“It has performed incredibly well. I was sceptical of bulk humidification of stores before, but not anymore. And our customers have been very pleased with the quality of produce coming out of it, which is the real issue!
“If you get the design and airflow right you can reduce the run-time of the fans and storage costs fall. This store is effective because air is being distributed to exactly the right place.
“The first half was loaded in the first week of October, and the second half in the third week of the month. The adiabatic cooling system worked really well and pulled the crop down to the required storage temperature. The curing system also worked very well”.
Potatoes are stacked to over five metres high and held at 8.5C, with the store’s controller maintaining humidity held at 98% to minimize weight loss – fans positioned in the roof ensure condensation is avoided.
Ray Andrews, from Crop Systems Ltd, says the store’s design sets a blue-print for the future: “Our aim was to produce a store that kept the crop in optimum condition while achieving low running and maintenance costs.
“Storage costs have been low because the system has worked perfectly. It was designed to provide 40cfm at 2”. British Potato Council staff checked it and found it was working 5% better than planned.
“We have monitored the store routinely through remote monitoring and personal visits. We haven’t had to ‘fire fight’ at all, so to the benefits of low storage costs and better final product quality must be added great peace of mind for the store operator.
“We conducted our own on-site experiment by slicing some tubers in half after loading. We left the halves on top of the central ventilation tunnel. They did not change shape or lose weight over the entire time the crop was stored.
“This store is designed to cope with bad years – when the crop comes in both wet and dirty. The initial cost may be more than a lower-spec store, but it means the operator always has control over the crop, can solve problems and ensure the produce that leaves the store is as good as it can be”.