Driverless ‘robo-tractors’ coming soon to Japanese potato and rice fields

Image result for japanese robot-tractorGreying farmers, a rural exodus and low food self-sufficiency have thrust Japan’s biggest agricultural machinery manufacturers into a national race to build a driverless tractor, according to a report by the Financial Times. It is said that the quest to perfect the “robo-tractor” is strongly encouraged by the Japanese government at the highest level, and is viewed as a way to stem the slowdown of Japanese agriculture. The first commercial generation of these tractors is expected to go on sale to many potato, rice and vegetable farmers on the islands of Hokkaido and Kyushu next year – at a cost of about 50% more than the cost of regular tractors. Sometime after 2020, say some of the Japanese companies involved, a rice or potato farmer having to continue working into his 80’s could send his driverless fleet off to plough, sow and harvest a crop from the comfort of his living room. They could even work at night. Recent statistics on fatal accidents in 2015 involving farm machinery showed that nearly 50% involved a farmer over the age of 80. (Source: Financial Times)

Applied Research: Ground-penetrating radar could help producers dig potatoes early

Dr. Dirk Hays, plant geneticist, is using ground-penetrating radar to test for early maturing potato varieties. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

Ground-penetrating radar might help the potato industry save water, according to Dr. Dirk Hays, Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant geneticist in the soil and crop sciences department at College Station. Hays’ latest project utilizes ground-penetrating radar to select early maturing potato cultivars, which can help producers make harvest decisions and increase water-use efficiency. His project is in coordination with AgriLife Research and the department of horticultural sciences potato breeding program conducted by breeders Dr. Creighton Miller and Dr. Isabel Vales, both at College Station. “We know radar will work on potatoes,” Hays said. “Radar works on detecting objects that are denser than the soil environment they are in. Potatoes are very moist versus the sandy soils they are grown in, so it’s relatively easy to image the potatoes with the ground-penetrating radar.”  Continue reading

Grimme to present new machines at Potato Europe 2017 event

: La VARITRON 470 Platinum TERRA TRAC est disponible en version 75 cm ou 90 cm.

VARITRON 470 Platinum harvester

During the Potato Europe 2017 event on 13 and 14 September in Emmeloord, the Netherlands, GRIMME will present a large number of new potato machines developed by the company. For the first time, Grimme will introduce the VARITRON 470 Platinum, a new generation of 4-row self-propelled harvesters powered by a 435 HP engine and equipped with a non-stop 7-ton Bunker hopper. One of the strengths of this machine is the improvement in driving comfort. The new ErgoDrive control concept is said to make direct and quick access to all functions easier. The SV 260 tractor-pulled potato harvester will be used on the demonstration field at the Potato Europe site, with the high performance Vario RS and MultiSep separators as well as a 5.5 ton NonstopBunker hopper in operation.  Continue reading

Research breakthrough: Novel way to convert potato waste into ethanol

potato peelsResearchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences have developed a novel approach to more efficiently convert potato waste into ethanol. This process may lead to reduced production costs for biofuel in the future, and also add extra value for chip makers. Using potato mash made from the peelings and potato residuals from a Pennsylvania food-processor, researchers triggered simultaneous saccharification — the process of breaking down the complex carbohydrate starch into simple sugars — and fermentation — the process in which sugars are converted to ethanol by yeasts or other microorganisms in bioreactors. This research is reportedly of great interest to Keystone Potato Products in Hegins, Pennsylvania, a subsidiary of Sterman Masser Inc. The company is paying attention to this project, hoping this novel approach may help it add more value to its waste potato mash. Continue reading

Storage Technology: Innovative new sensor nominated for Award

The Tolsma-Grisnich storage technology company developed a unique temperature sensor to measure the temperature at different locations and heights within a bulk potato storage facility. The product, in essence a 5 meter long cable, is said to measure temperature differences quite accurately at different locations, and the developers figure that the device provide storage managers with more fine-tuned control over temperature regulation in a storage facility. More measurements closer to each other can be obtained. It is easy to install multiple sensor cables whilst a storage bin is being filled during loading operations. The product has been nominated for a Potato Europe 2017 Innovation Award. Judges reportedly called it a “beautiful forward-looking solution in storage technology, with practical application potential”. Full report in Dutch published on Tolsma-Grisnich will also launch a new version of its mobile phone app for storage management during the Potato Europe 2017 event in the Netherlands in September.

Irish research project funded to develop nanosensors for quick disease detection

Image result for “A vital step in addressing barley and potato crop disease is the implementation of adequate surveillance strategies so that rapid, in-field diagnosis can be made,” said Dr Alan O’Riordan, research fellow at Tyndall National Institute. Scope will develop prototype nanosensors by combining all parties’ expertise in crop pathology, immunochemistry and nanotechnology.Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork, Dublin City University and Teagasc are teaming up to research crop disease in Ireland. Backed with a €1m investment from the Department of Agriculture, a number of research institutions are looking to get to the bottom of crop disease. Ireland’s two most important crops are barley and potato, and disease poses a significant challenge to these and many other strands of agriculture. With that in mind, SCOPE, a research project addressing the issue, brings researchers from several institutions together to investigate the problem and develop an antibody-based sensor Continue reading

Scientists around the world focus on zebra chip disease and potato tomato psyllid

Potato crisps exhibiting Zebra chipFor the past number of years, many potato researchers in several countries around the world have been focusing on the problem of zebra chip disease of potatoes, and the insect that transmit this disease to spud tubers, the potato tomato psyllid. Zebra chip became a serious problem for many potato growers and processors alike during the past few years in many potato producing countries, including North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Zebra chip is caused by the Liberibacter bacterium and spread by tiny, winged insects called potato psyllids – and it creates bands in tuber flesh that darken during frying. University of Idaho (UI) researchers are studying reflections of various light wavelengths off of zebra chip-infected potatoes, seeking to devise a quicker and more precise method of quantifying disease prevalence. Continue reading

Key Technology presents its VERYX digital sorters to Middle East food processors

Key Technology will introduce its VERYX® family of digital sorters to the Middle East food processing industry at the Gulfood Manufacturing trade show being held in Dubai from 31 October to 2 November, 2017. The VERYX B175 will be exhibited with Key’s representative, Al Thika Packaging, in stand #C1-4, Hall 1. Featuring advanced inspection technology and object-based recognition, VERYX sorters maximize removal of foreign material (FM) and product defects based on the colors, sizes, shapes and/or structural properties of objects while minimizing false rejects to improve product quality and increase yields. With belt-fed and chute-fed configurations available in various widths, VERYX handles a range of products and production through-puts. It is ideal for sorting dates and other dried fruits, potato chips and other snacks, nuts, leafy greens, fresh cut and frozen fruits and vegetables, wet and frozen potato strips, confections and other foods.  Continue reading

PotatoEurope 2017: “Potatoes Feed and Meet the World”

The annual PotatoEurope trade show is preparing for the 11th edition, which will take place September, 13-14, in Emmeloord, the Netherlands. The theme of the 2017 edition of PotatoEurope is ‘Potatoes feed/meet the world’. The event features 250 exhibitors and offers many opportunities to gain practical knowledge. PotatoEurope will also host several demonstrations, showing how the international potato world is preparing for a sustainable future with the help of technological advancements. In about a month, a predicted 15,000 visitors will watch potato harvesters, transport vehicles, tractors, storage machinery and box filling equipment – all live in action! In addition, the trial fields provide valuable information. The potatoes that will be used in the live demonstrations had been planted in spring time and thechosen potato variety is called Innovator, 35-45 millimeters in size and with a spacing of 30 centimeters. The potatoes are being grown on a 30-hectare site belonging to the Aeres Landbouwbouwbedrijf farm. More

New Report: Global market for potato harvesters expected to grow significantly

Image result for potato harvesterA report on the global outlook for the Potato Harvester Market sector, ‘Worldwide Potato Harvester Market, 2016 – 2022’, was recently published by According to the authors of the Report, the global market for potato harvesters is expected to witness a significant growth throughout the forecast period until 2022. They say that potato farmers around the world are constantly looking for more advanced solutions in order to improve farm productivity and profit margins. This trend has increased the global demand for potato harvesters during the last few years, particularly in India and China, although increased mechanization of farm activities in several other Asia Pacific and also African countries is expected to further spur the demand for potato harvesters from these regions. Continue reading

McCain Foods embraces analytics to transform the way they do business

Image result for mccain foodsHear Roman Coba, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of McCain Foods, talk about how MicroStrategy, an enterprise analytics and mobility company, has enabled McCain Foods to completely transform their business – from developing a single enterprise reporting environment, to improving safety on the production line, to helping sales and marketing better understand McCain’s customers and prospects. Watch the video below or find it on YouTube… Also watch a related video entitled McCain Foods Integrating Data from the Plant to the Boardroom to Increase the Bottom Line  Continue reading

US: Traceability products to help you track produce

One way to ease the process of a food safety recall is by having detailed records of where each crop has been and who has touched it. In this article published by Growing Produce, some traceability products using the latest technology are featured. Food Origins offers precision harvest data in real time that can be captured with a handheld device in the field. iFood Decision Sciences’ Toolbox makes data collection and analysis easier for growers, harvesters, shippers, packers, third-party suppliers, and processors. Inteligistics offers temperature monitoring, humidity visibility, and product tracking. A sensor tracks the product from the field to the cooling and shipping process, and even to the retail store shelves. is a web-based warehouse management system designed specifically for the fresh produce industry. Produce Pro Software provides growers with a 360-degree view; including acreage, labor costs, crop types, materials, equipment, spraying schedules, harvest, and individual plantings. T3 Tracking has two products in the traceability area. Produce Scan allows users to receive, pack, repack, and ship product from their facilities while maintaining correct inventories and traceability throughout their facilities.

Tummers keeps developing its potato processing equipment

Tummers keeps developing its potato processing equipment!As the people are the heart of Tummers, R&D is the backbone. Tummers is continuously working on improving their machinery, the process, service or other aspects to apply to the demands of the market, within the Tummers Group. Tummers is not improving just to improve, but improving based on feedback from its customers. Once in a while this contains a drastic development like the ZicZac brusher, Switcher, Autotrax or washer/destoner, but mostly this contains subtle improvements on already existing processes or machinery. These are the most recent developments in the range of potato processing machinery of Tummers… More

The power of creativity: A special beer, vodka and chips from the same potato source…

“Yes, it got slightly out of hand,” laughs Victor van Veelen. Seven years ago the brothers Joost and Sebastiaan Hoes opened a trial store under the name FrietHoes in the Netherlands. It was the start of their own FrietFabriek (ChipFactory) in which Victor van Veelen also participated. Their new production line has a capacity of over 2 million kg of fresh chips on an annual basis and a semi-automatic factory for the production of precooked chips. FrietHoes is one of the largest buyers of organic chip potatoes in the Netherlands. FrietHoes has set itself the goal of making the production line completely zero waste next year. In order to add value to the cutting waste, they got creative: “We decided to make vodka from them. Our peel beer soon followed: a special craft beer that is great on a square. As an entrepreneur it’s an added advantage to be able to serve fresh chips and tell your customer that the drink comes from the very same potato and chip producer. Customers like this and it creates an experience,” Victor concludes. More

Gpi and Kiremko deliver batter line installation for french fry coating

According to a report published online by Potato Business, Gpi and Kiremko worked together on designing and building a complete batter line that can produce liquid batter for the coating french fries. This liquid batter will be applied in a thin layer on the fries before they are baked. This ‘battering’ or ‘coating’ of chips is done to give the fries certain additional properties, such as crispness, the color, the taste or staying warm longer. The batter line will be added to large industrial ovens with a capacity of 10,000-20,000 kg of fries per hour. The batter line consists of:

  • A powder deposit – 20 kg bags are deposited in a cabinet;
  • A powder conveyor system to the powder hoppers;
  • A mixer in which the powder is mixed with water;
  • Two buffer gas tanks where the coating fluid is stored and treated;
  • Various pumps and piping works for the pumping of the fluid;
  • A circulation tank from which the batter liquid is being pumped to the French fries oven through coolers.