We are seeking input regarding a research and education project with the goal of consolidating postharvest information in a single set of resources.
Our proposed project aims to consolidate existing knowledge, best practices, and new developments in postharvest equipment, infrastructure, and buildings into a web-based handbook, workshop curriculum / educational materials and recorded videos.
This survey is voluntary and anonymous. Summarized and anonymized results will be included in a grant project proposal and also on our website (go.uvm.edu/ageng). Please direct any questions to Chris Callahan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-447-7582 x256.
The survey should take an average of 3 minutes to complete.
To download the PDF version of this plan click here!
Farms that need to cool smaller volumes of produce can also benefit from forced air cooling. Whether cooling stacked pallets, pallet bins or individual cartons, the same principals apply. A smaller pallet cooler was noted on the previous page, but this concept can be scaled down even further to fit your needs. Here is a prototype, that could fit on a countertop with-in a walk-in cooler.
Constructed of 2×4’s on top of a horizontal base made from 1/2” plywood cut 24” deep and 44” wide. Angled reinforcements were needed to stiffen the assembly.
A downloadable/printable pdf of this article is available here.
The preservation of quality in fresh market and storage crops on small and medium-sized farms in the Northeast depends on the rapid reduction of pulp temperature and maintenance of relatively low temperatures to slow metabolic respiration.
There is strong foundational work showing that rapidly reducing the temperature at the start of the cold chain increases product quality when delivered to the consumer. Postharvest handling is critical for fresh produce farmers and the markets they sell to. Effort and expense invested in growing fruits and vegetables can be wasted without good handling practices at and following harvest (Gross 2014). Consumers expect the best from fresh produce. Quality and freshness are ranked with high importance among consumers. Farmers market respondents respectively rank quality (63% ) and freshness (59%), as highly important factors in their buying decisions. Nearly 87% of the respondents indicated that availability and quality of fresh produce affected their decision about where to purchase (Gorindasamy 2002).
Precooling involves flowing a controlled, chilled fluid (air or water) over the product to improve heat transfer for removal of field heat to depress respiration and initiate the cold chain. Continue reading Forced Air Cooling On The Farm
This presentation discusses several different options for record keeping and tracking of produce safety documents and farm logs on an online interface. This was recorded at the Great Lakes Expo in Grand Rapids Michigan December 2017 and given by Chris Callahan UVM Extension, Ag Engineering.
UVM Extension and others supported the recent installation of a 341,200 BTU/hr (output) multi-fuel biomass boiler at the Vermont Farmers Food Center (VFFC) in Rutland, VT. The boiler heats the Farmer’s Hall building with the capability to use several alternative fuels to displace propane. The boiler was fueled primarily on wood pellets but was also able to feed and burn grass biomass pucks. This demonstration project carried a cost premium when compared to a typical propane heater installation. That premium is paid back over time due to recurring fuel cost savings. A simple payback period of 2.2 to 8.0 years is feasible against a cost premium of $51,255 for the boiler depending on the fuel used and the amount of use. For more details about the project and the economic performance please see the report.
Recent testing at the Meach Cove Trust has demonstrated strong economic and technical feasibility of grass-based biomass combustion fuels. The use of solid, densified, cellulosic biomass fuels has been well demonstrated with wood pellets in residential and light commercial systems and wood chips in larger, often centralized systems. The Grass Energy Partnership of the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative has been exploring an alternative form of fuel; grasses densified in a specially developed processor to take the form of 1.5”-2.0” round cylindrical pucks. Grass fuels may be produced on otherwise marginal agricultural land, sometimes in perennial production and even in buffer strips offering environmental benefit. Additionally, fuel can be made by densifying agricultural residue or biomass harvested from idle pasture or fields. We have referred to this fuel as “Ag Biomass”. The testing summarized in this report has demonstrated the technical and economic feasibility of such fuels.
We recently completed a project aimed at improving the ability of Vermont vegetable farms to store crops such as beets, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, onions, squash and sweet potatoes, all of which have unmet demand in late winter when local supplies run out.
The physiology of these crops allows them to be stored for many months after harvest if specific storage conditions are met. However, several distinct sets of conditions are optimal for different groups of crops, and achieving each condition requires careful control and monitoring of temperature and relative humidity in storage. Currently, Vermont’s commercial vegetable farms rarely achieve the optimal conditions due to lack of sufficiently separated storage compartments, and lack of modern environmental monitoring and control equipment.
This project installed environmental monitoring equipment to improve storage conditions and ultimately the quality of 1,736 tons of winter storage crops at 9 farms throughout Vermont . The cumulative market value of these storage crops produced during the 2012-2014 growing seasons was $3.5 million. Improved storage monitoring led to better control of storage conditions, in part through automated notification to farmers when abnormal conditions were occurring. This allowed for prompt correction of problems such as open doors and failing or inoperative cooling equipment. Losses of storage crops (cull rates) were reduced from ~15% to ~5% of stored volume. Sixty-six energy efficiency measures were also implemented at 5 of these farms, saving a total of 40,269 kWh of electricity and $5,800 annually. The systems deployed have increased the confidence of growers to expand their winter storage of Vermont-grown vegetables, leading to an increased supply of local produce outside of the traditional growing and marketing season.