Advancements in potato sizing equipment are allowing potato growers and packers to improve the efficiency and productivity of their potato handling facilities, as well as enjoy even gentler handling. Tong has worked with AHDB Potatoes for some time to help raise awareness on the importance of gentle potato sizing and handling, ensuring potato sizing processes bring maximum yield and the best value from your potato crop.
The importance of gentle handling is a continuing priority for growers and packers worldwide and at Tong we’re dedicated to spreading the word… and manufacturing gentle potato handling equipment too of course! (We’ve just added this video below to demonstrate one of our latest and most advanced potato sizing installations so you can see how potato equipment is advancing.)
So, with gentle handling remaining at the top of the potato sizing agenda, we thought we’d reiterate the top 8 ways to reducing potato damage during the potato sizing process, originally devised by AHDB Potatoes in collaboration with Tong (Click here to view the AHDB’s complete Minimizing Damage guide).
Potato sizing can be done straight from the field or out of store and, if not managed carefully, could potentially damage the crop.
Main Potato Sizer functions:
• Separate soil, lumps and stones from potatoes
• Remove reject crop
• Size grade potatoes
Before potato sizing starts, it’s essential to maintain your equipment; worn parts and abrasive edges need to be restored. Remember, crops differ from variety and field and your potato sizer needs to be set up for the current crop type. Equally important is checking for key damage areas caused by the potato sizer , the top eight areas to check are detailed here.
Potential damage points when Potato Sizing and how to prevent them:
1. Bulker/trailer to hopper
Ensure that the potato hopper’s rubber back traps and soft-landing rubber lining are kept in good condition to ensure cushioned landing of crop when transferred to the hopper. This also helps to prevent damage and/or waste by crop falling onto the floor.
2. Dumping bin into hopper
Use the correct type of dumper/rotator – this depends on the experience of the forklift driver, as the bin should be rotated as close to the hopper bed as possible. Ideally, to further minimize the damage risk, using a bin dumper feeding a droop snoop conveyor ensures minimal drop and damage to the crop.
3. Transfer of potatoes from hopper to dirt eliminator
Maintain an even flow of crop to the dirt eliminator to ensure it is carefully spread out from debris, minimizing potential damage as well as ensuring maximum effect of the dirt eliminator in removal of soil and potentially damaging stones.
4. Potato dirt eliminating
To ensure effective yet gentle potato dirt eliminating, it is vital that the dirt eliminating unit, whether spiral rollers, stars or coils, is set up to suit the crop conditions of any given load. Be aware of the right settings for the conditions you’re dealing with. This will ensure the potato dirt eliminator eliminates the dirt effectively without damaging the crop.
5. Potato Sizing
Check that pintle drive rollers are in good order so that the screen doesn’t slip. Ensure the screen is kept in good condition, as any damage to the steel could damage the crop. Do not run agitators too fast, ensure agitator rollers are maintained in good order.
6. Potato Inspection
Check the drop from the screen to the inspection area and ensure this is kept to a minimum. Keep crop feed constant and steady, running too fast could cause damage to the crop and cause it to be missed by those inspecting. Use turn rollers on inspection belts so both sides of crop are inspected as it travels along the conveyors.
7. Transfer of potatoes to bins
Ensure the bin filling machine keeps the crop drop to a minimum. Ensure the machine belt has deep flight or doorstop fingers to gently hold the crop until it reaches the bottom of the bin. This stops it falling quickly into the bin. Ensure the sensors are clean, maintained and set correctly to suit your bin size to ensure minimal crop damage at all times. Do not over fill bins, forklift tines and the bottom of the bin above can cause damage when stacking.
8. Transfer to bulk storage or bulker/ trailer
Ensure heights are matched between elevators and conveyors at any transfer points, to minimize drop. Keep rubber soft landing at contact points, including elevator hopper, in good condition to minimize damage. Ensure elevator head is controlled carefully so that it is placed as close to stored crop as possible for minimum drop. Match the speed of the sizer conveyors and elevator to help keep the flow of crop evenly spread, minimizing damage.
To view Tong’s complete range of potato sizing equipment click here.
For more information on how to reduce damage to your potato crop throughout the handling process visit: http://potatoes.ahdb.org.uk/growing/bruising
You can download the AHDB Potatoes handy checklist for your potato sizing team to ensure gentle handling of crop at all times here: http://potatoes.ahdb.org.uk/sites/default/files/publication_upload/GradingChecklist_English.pdf