Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Production Research
Editorial: Innovate or perish


April 30, 2009
By Marg Land


Topics

Irecently travelled to California to attend the World Ag Expo in Tulare. I serve as editor of a second agricultural publication – Manure Manager (www.manuremanger.com) – and decided to tag along with the publication’s sales manager to see the latest and greatest in agricultural equipment and services, specifically manure handling equipment.

Irecently travelled to California to attend the World Ag Expo in
Tulare. I serve as editor of a second agricultural publication – Manure
Manager (www.manuremanger.com) – and decided to tag along with the
publication’s sales manager to see the latest and greatest in
agricultural equipment and services, specifically manure handling
equipment.

Of course, while I was there, I had to check out the newest
developments in fruit and vegetable production equipment and
innovations in irrigation. I wasn’t disappointed. Half of the annual
show’s Top 10 New Products were geared toward fruit and vegetable
producers. They included:

Aqua-PhyD,
an environmentally-friendly device that fits into the main
line of drip, sprinkler or flood irrigation systems allowing growers to
stretch their water supply without chemicals or extra electrical power.
The unit is mounted between the sand filters and before the water line
goes into the ground. According to the company, the technology improves
hydraulic conductivity, increasing water use efficiency, and improves
the leaching of salts, enabling the use of water with high levels of
total dissolved solids (TDS). www.aqua-phyd.com

LectroSense
is a new sensing system for orchard sprayers that
automatically shuts off the sprayer between trees. According to product
developer Progressive Ag Inc., the new technology can cut chemical
costs by 75 per cent while also reducing waste and drift. The system is
designed for use in young, uniform orchards up until the canopies are
touching. It features an electronic sensor mounted at the end of a
break-away boom on each side of the sprayer. The boom adjusts manually
to fit different row spacings and the sensor height can also be changed
to match different trunk heights. The system is designed for use on
Progressive Ag Inc.’s LectroBlast Electrostatic Sprayers. www.proaginc.com

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The NV-851 Produce Wrapping Machine is made by San-Ai Corporation,
U.S.A, and offers packing houses the ability to wrap as many as 850 or
more pieces of produce per hour in a plastic film. The machine can wrap
a wide variety of produce, including iceberg lettuce, broccoli,
cabbage, cauliflower, bell peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, leafy lettuces
and multiple mushrooms. The NV-851 uses a mechanical method of wrapping
that begins when the operator places an item in the machine’s tray. A
sensor detects the item and activates the wrapping process. The machine
detects the subtle differences in the produce commodity size and wraps
the proper amount of plastic film around the item with just enough
pressure to prevent any bruising. An optional conveyor system can be
added to offload the wrapped produce for sorting or boxing.
www.san-ai-usa.com

Andros Engineering’s Series III Carrier is designed to place drip
irrigation tape accurately, quickly and safely. According to the
product’s designers, it can be difficult to lay drip tape accurately
because the tape rolls have to be placed so close together. The Series
II Carrier includes an arbor shaft for handling a spool of tape, a
cradle for holding the shaft and spool combination, and a brake to
control free-wheeling of the tape at the end of the row. It can be
mounted to a variety of planting implements, bed shapers or a tool bar
and can be adjusted from one line per bed to up to three lines per
40-inch bed. www.andros-engineering.com

The Valley Tracker Mobile allows growers to check the status of their sprinkler irrigation and control its operation by pressing a cell phone touch
screen. All that’s required is a web-enabled smart phone or smart PDA,
a Windows mobile browser and access to the Internet. Tracker Mobile is
included with each new Valley Tracker or TrackerSP and provides
colourful graphics to depict the current status of each irrigation
system. Using the cell phone touch screen, the grower can view
different status reports, check for malfunctions and send commands to
operate the irrigation equipment. The user can also group irrigation
systems for viewing different farms very easily.
www.valleyirrigation.com

This is just a small sampling of the new products and innovations on
display by more than 1600 exhibitors covering 2.6 million square feet
of exhibit space. Canadian innovation was well represented with more
than 35 Canadian companies exhibiting at the three-day show. There were
also companies from Australia, Israel, India, China, United Kingdom,
Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Brazil, Italy, Mexico and Korea
showcasing their agricultural advances.

Possibly the most encouraging element of the event was the grower
attendance and enthusiasm. As part of the show, a special pavilion is
erected in the centre of the show grounds, showcasing the top
innovative new products. During the entire three days, the tent was
packed with interested growers and product literature was constantly in
need of replenishment. Hopefully, this interest will result in sales in
the future months.