Video: Digicam expertise improves marketability for potato growers

Kitted out with a digital camera, GPS system and a transportable pill, HarvestEye expertise helps potato growers enhance marketability by sizing and counting crops.

A singular digital camera system which measures the scale and depend of root crops is offering growers with worthwhile data on their exact dimension profile to enhance marketability.

See additionally: Direct potato gross sales assist grower overcome rise in prices

The expertise, generally known as HarvestEye, is an modern system which inserts to current harvesting gear or grading traces for each potato and onion crops.

Using patented expertise and machine studying, the gadget gives reside data on the efficiency of complete fields.

Crop variability may also be mapped throughout particular person subject places, offering focused agronomic efficiency information.

How HarvestEye works

HarvestEye gross sales account supervisor Ed Strawson explains how the gadget can help choice making with detailed information units.

“It is a really easy system which mounts on a harvester or grader. It can sense the distinction between the potato, clod or a stone, giving correct sizing and depend data for the crop.

“Kitted out with a digital camera, enclosure together with the GPS, and a pill contained in the cab, data is remotely despatched to a knowledge portal, with studies displayed in easy-to-read bar graphs.”

Data can be displayed through GPS subject maps which display the place particular potato sizes are positioned.

Together, these insights assist growers to higher plan shares to clients to make sure recent produce meets high quality expectations.

We communicate to 2 potato growers who’re utilizing the HarvestEye expertise to seek out out extra about its advantages.

Tom Stevenson, New Hall Farm, Essex

Essex potato grower Tom Stevenson grows 160ha of potatoes on largely rented land and has efficiently used the HarvestEye system for six seasons.

Initially utilizing the digital camera expertise on his potato harvester again in 2016, it quickly turned obvious that becoming the gadget to the potato grader would enable him to get probably the most from the expertise.

Using the gadget on this manner for the 5 years improves marketable yield as he is ready to dimension the crop going into retailer and tailor particular crop sizes to buyer wants.

“The higher you recognize your crop, the higher you’ll be able to promote it. More of our crops are going to the suitable properties.

“Some clients might desire a larger, bolder pattern whereas others might desire a extra medium-size potato.

“We know what we now have and might promote it accordingly – it’s all a part of constructing the larger image,” he says.

Potatoes are harvested in bulk after which introduced into the yard for cleansing and grading, which is why the system is extra suited to the grader than the potato harvester.

Mr Stevenson can be avoiding pricey dimension specification penalties by supplying clients with extra correct sizes.

“HarvestEye appears on the completed product and sizes and counts the totally different sizes from totally different fields on totally different days. It splits the crop into 5mm dimension brackets.

“These classes are person outlined – it does have the flexibility to dimension smaller however that’s as detailed as we should be.

“The smallest dimension of our potatoes going into retailer is about 45mm whereas our greatest tuber is 85mm.”

The depend and dimension information are linked to a portal the place customers can delve into the information which is usually up to date.

“With 20 totally different potato fields and about 30 totally different shares, the expertise permits us to cross reference dimension with particular subject labels. What’s extra, the markets change at totally different instances of the yr so we will match this in keeping with market necessities – we’re actually reaping the advantages of the system,” he concludes.

Harvest 2022

Mr Stevenson continues that, though yields had been down 15-20% this yr resulting from drought, there was sufficient moisture within the crop to keep away from bruising and dear high quality penalties.

“Overall, harvest 2022 went properly with no main disruptions. We initially feared the dry summer season would trigger extreme crop bruising at harvest, however fortuitously our irrigation system maintained high quality.

“Yields, nevertheless, had been disappointing. Our crop of King Edwards would normally yield 42t/ha and the extra typical varieties reminiscent of Mozart, Laura and Picasso 55t/ha, however this was not the case.”

Irrigation is an absolute necessity for Mr Stevenson, whose household has farmed at New Hall Farm since 1902.

All potato crops are irrigated, utilizing 60m gallons of water however this was not enough this season as a result of extreme lack of rain.

“We had been flat-out irrigating from late May to August with no pure rain bathe break.

“We would normally use a price of 5in of irrigation water per acre however this yr we had been making use of 8in and in some locations extra.”

Harvest began on 24 August and ran for a couple of month. Crops are destined for long-term storage for the grocery store commerce and a few for export to the Canary Islands.

David Armstrong, Abbey Farm, Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire grower David Armstrong

© MAG, Emma Gillbard

One early trial person of the expertise is Lincolnshire grower David Armstrong, who’s working intently with potato provider Branston to develop the gadget and supply farmer suggestions.

He has used the set-up on his potato harvester for 4 seasons, and over current years is making probably the most from auto-generated harvest studies despatched through e mail from the portal, offering insights on varieties and subject efficiency.

“The dimension and depend of tubers is linked to GPS yield mapping, the place we’re discovering increased yields and larger sized tubers on the heavier clay soils on account of larger moisture retention. However, high quality can typically be poorer as damper soils create extra cloddy seedbeds which imply air pockets can kind, resulting in a poorer pores and skin end and scab points.”

At current, potato sizing is predicated on small samples which regularly fail to account for the variability throughout fields in keeping with soil kind, pests and illness, which might make advertising crops a problem.

He sees the gadget being significantly helpful for potato farmers rising for the seed market, and for these and not using a potato contract, as it’ll allow them to know precisely what crops they’ve in retailer and assist them market them higher.

The expertise additionally has large advantages for end-users. There might even be the chance sooner or later to cost a premium for crops as you recognize precisely what your dimension shares are, as this protects the processor cash, he says.

What does it price?

For a typical 10,000t potato farmer the annual perception is circa 75p/t. Various industrial fashions can be found to swimsuit particular person farmers, grower teams and packers.

These embrace lease, rent and buy, the place demonstrations may also be organized.

Looking forward, the corporate plans to increase its expertise to be used in different root crops.