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New research facility opened at Sutton Bridge Storage Event

2 August 2011

Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research (SBCSR) officially opened its new, purpose-built storage units at the Storage Event on September 2.

Opening the new Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board AHDB Potatoes research stores, the government spokesman for Energy and Climate Change, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, congratulated the authorities for their foresight in investing in facilities that will assist the agricultural industry in addressing challenges at the same time as they lower their carbon footprint.

The AHDB Potatoes centre is now one of the most sophisticated crop storage research establishments in the world, thanks to the new £600,000 facility, part funded by a £270,000 RDPE grant from the EU and Defra which was delivered by the East Midlands Development Agency. 

Housed within the umbrella structure are six new storage units. Each one is fitted with a sophisticated, reversible ventilation system in addition to a humidification system providing evaporative cooling and an adjustable fridge capacity that uses an environmentally-friendly refrigerant.

SBCSR offers a range of free services to AHDB Potatoes levy payers, including initial telephone advice on storage and quality issues and expert advice on disease diagnosis or configuration of store layouts. In addition, for a modest fee, the centre will arrange for Sutton Bridge specialists to make site visits and store audits.

 “AHDB Potatoes levy payers need to maintain their competitive position, which entails effective monitoring of all costs. With the new facilities, we can identify the most cost-effective means of maintaining the quality and value of stored potatoes,” said Adrian Cunnington, head of SBCSR.

“We can also offer contract work to the private sector,” he continued. “The improved facility is capable of realising storage experiments on field vegetables such as carrots, onions and broccoli as well as on potato crops.”

Topics on the agenda at the Storage Day included a review of the impact of climate change on potato storage with Professor Gareth Edwards-Jones from Bangor University; an industry perspective on sustainability from Dr David Nelson, field director of Branston and optimisation of storage costs with Jay Wootton from Andersons The Farm Business Consultants.

“Understanding sustainability is key to the future, and storage improvements can offer substantial benefits, often after as little as two years,” explained Mr Cunnington. “However, growers should also be looking at their long term strategy for storage and contemplating investments that will provide for the next ten to twenty years.”

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