Local potato supplier Greenvale has reduced its water usage by 70 per cent at its Floods Ferry site, as well as unveiling an innovative new water efficient irrigation system.
The Cascade system has been running at Greenvale’s Floods Ferry site for a year and forms part of the company’s Green15 initiative which aims to reduce the overall environmental impact of water use by 50 per cent by 2015. Cascade is also running at the Tern Hills site in Shropshire and will be rolled out to the Duns site in Berwickshire later in the year.
Cascade combines existing technology with state of the art computer controls to create a fully automatic continual circulation and treatment system for the washing of root vegetables.
As well as slashing water usage Cascade improves product quality as potatoes are washed in constantly recycled clean, chilled water which reduces the risk of bacterial cross contamination. This increases the shelf life and also improves the appearance of the potatoes.
Sand and soil from the potatoes is also filtered out of the water using Cascade and can then be reused and sold on so that almost everything is recycled.
The Cascade system has won a host of awards including the UK Water Efficiency Award 2012, the Re-Fresh Innovation of the Year Award, the Food Processing Environmental Initiative Award, The E.D.I.E Award for Water and Wastewater, The Footprint Award for Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and a Golden Green Apple Award.
Greenvale has also introduced a new irrigation system which is highly targeted, significantly reduces damage to crops and can help to save water.
The system uses mini sprinklers which are fixed permanently into the same field while the crop grows. The system ensures each potato only receives the necessary amount of water each day therefore helping to save water. It also limits stress to the plants as there is a constant supply of water which makes for better utilisation of nutrients and gives an increase in tuber numbers.
The quality of the crop is significantly improved with the gentler sprinklers ensuring the potatoes have improved size uniformity and a reduced risk of common scab. At tuber initiation or at tuber bulking, the key to applying water is ‘little and often’ which can be delivered by this system.
Ewan Stark, Head of Agronomy at Greenvale’s Duns and Burrelton sites, said: “The sprinkler irrigation system provides simple and effective water management at the push of a button. Whilst being incredibly easy to manage, the system will also give growers a significant increase in tuber numbers and save water as there is less run off from the fields and much less water lost through evaporation.”
Greenvale handles 600,000 tonnes of potatoes every year operating from three packaging facilities located across the UK.