More needs to be done to improve potato storage, according to the director of the Potato Council when he spoke to those attending a special event
at Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research (SBCSR) last week.
Dr Rob Clayton addressed around 150 growers, store managers and advisors who attended the Potato Council’s research event to celebrate 50 years of Storage Research.
The special day, sponsored by Crop Systems, showcased storage development, knowledge exchange past and present and included the latest best practice on key storage topics.
Dr Clayton, who started his career 20 years ago at GB’s leading post-harvest applied research facility, said: “Today we celebrate the key SBO_0879 milestones and achievements over the last 50 years at SBCSR with a serious undertone.”
“Today we see innovation, thought leadership and state of the art technology around us. But when we travel around the country, we find an industry blissfully sleepwalking into situations that put our mainstay sprout suppressants at risk. We find an industry prepared to tolerate a three-fold difference in energy costs. We find growers content to sacrifice airflows to squeeze 1,100 tonnes into a 1,000 tonne store.”
He said having a team that can provide the impetus and the toolbox for change is half of the jigsaw, and said that the new StoreCheck (www.potato.org.uk/storecheck) store auditing service, which is just a phone call or a click away was a great example of this.
He continued: “You are the other half, you must leave SBCSR prepared to evangelise about what you have, you must put aside your competitive interest and you must become agents for change.”
The 50 Years of Storage Research event gave evidence of the ever-growing toolbox. Key achievements over the five decades have included the move from clamps to storage buildings; disease control; condensation management; CIPC distribution; bloom meters; self-audits; diagnostics; controlled atmospheres; ethylene management and inverter technology.
Just as industry needs to change, said Dr Clayton, so does SBCSR. the facility was fortunate to receive EU funding four years ago to add to the capability of the site.
He closed his address acknowledging Adrian Cunnington, who has worked for 30 years at SBCSR and his team. “Having worked at Sutton Bridge what impresses me is an almost unique ability to work the grading lines and get dirt under the finger nails but then to scrub up, deliver world leading-science and treat storage as a business.”
Richard Harris, Tim Dent, Nick Twell, Adrian Cunnington and Mike Storey were all recognised for providing the guidance, leadership and strategy.