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Storage Bulletin - May 2014

Publication Date: 
23 May 2014

Storage 2020 – the case for uniformity
 
Sutton Bridge was involved in a leading supply chain meeting last week where storage uniformity was a major topic on the agenda for discussion with international storage experts. Even delivery of air around the store is critical for keeping a stable storage environment and discussions centred on how this can be achieved both in bulk and box storage situations.
 
The distribution of air via an underfloor, ‘guarded slot’ ventilation system is a proven solution which has given excellent results over the last decade or so in AHDB Potatoes trials aimed at optimising CIPC distribution and providing predictable and even air flow to bulk piles.
 
Extension of this concept – based around having the ‘throttle’ on the air at its point of delivery into the crop – has not (yet) been very successfully applied to box storage. Horizontal suction systems (eg Aspire™) have achieved this best but still require further refinement, especially in long buildings. It is worth stressing that our unmodified ‘overhead throw’ box stores don’t even get close on this count, whilst most other systems seek to address the issue by regulating delivery into the pallet bases (open suction systems, letterbox outlets, tapered socks etc). Whilst this still leaves potential for variability even if alternate slots are ‘bunged’ with foam to force air to pass through the crop, this kind of controlled air delivery is a major step forward and to be encouraged.
 
One point which was very clear was that to move forward the industry has to move away from a position of getting something for nothing. If it’s done properly, better storage uniformity means more effective drying, more even temperatures, less condensation and lower energy bills. So, if this means reducing storage capacity to achieve these benefits, that’s the price we need to pay for a sustainable storage solution.  Without taking any action, we lose the option of using CIPC and fail to match up to the standards some of the supply chains, like our hosts last week, will be looking to achieve.
 
Attendees heard that the key to future success is going to be to extend this idea further to the management and delivery of tailored ventilation solutions. These will enable us to deal with issues in store at any location where this is needed but to have sufficient control of air delivery within the storage system for that not to have to be a universal one-size-fits-all treatment. The concept is reminiscent of a zonal, bulk storage (but ultimately unreliable) control system trialled over several years at Sutton Bridge in the early 1980s but allows more specific air delivery to deal with any problem parts of the store independently. We will be watching developments on this across the Pond with interest…
 
Call us at SBCSR on 0800 02 82 111 to discuss the options for your store.
 
Storage 2020  StoreCheck audit service now on stream
 
Preparations are just about complete for our new StoreCheck auditing service, which is now available to take bookings. The audits will be carried out by Sutton Bridge CSR in conjunction with Farm Energy. Key features of the service include store leakage measurement, guidance on energy usage and CIPC management advice.
 
StoreCheck offers an opportunity for the performance criteria for individual stores to be assessed. AHDB Potatoes-funded survey work conducted by SBCSR and Farm Energy has revealed a huge range of levels of performance across commercial stores in everyday use throughout the industry. Some stores have been costing up to three times as much to run as comparable facilities.
 
Store performance is basically influenced by any factor which changes the store condition from its optimum. Clearly, there are things the store manager can do little about, such as crop respiration, which produces heat and usually requires the store to be periodically cooled. But there are also factors we can influence such as air leakage into the store - on a windy day warm air leaking into a store can increase running costs by as much as 50% and heighten the risk of condensation which will encourage disease development. Ventilation performance can be seriously affected by poor air circulation which means that uniformity is compromised (see above). Essentially, heat is not removed as effectively as it might be adding to electricity costs and weight loss. Also refrigeration relies on efficient heat transfer from crop to air, from air to refrigerant (in the evaporator coils) and from refrigerant to the outside air (via the condenser). Any limitations on these processes reduces cooling efficiency and means it takes longer (and costs more) to achieve any change in store condition that's needed.
 
Please watch our video below for more information. Ultimately, can you afford to run your storage without knowing that you have your store running to the best of its ability? Help is just a phone call away. Contact us now and book an audit for your store - the small investment needed for a StoreCheck assessment could be paid back in as little as one season.
 
Please call 01406 359419 to make a booking (please be prepared to give the store’s dimensions) or, for more information, see our video at www.potato.org.uk/storecheck
 
Blackheart
 
We have had some continued reports of stocks from long-term storage developing blackheart symptoms, either coming out of store or soon after. SBCSR is currently undertaking a research project (AHDB Potatoes project R456) on blackheart so would be very keen to hear of any experience of this problem and to advise on the management of risk. Please contact Adrian Briddon on 0800 02 82 111.
 
Forthcoming events organised or supported by AHDB Potatoes visit www.potato.org.uk/events

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