UVM Extension Ag Engineering


Shedding Some Light in the Shed – Lighting for Indoor Work on the Farm

As the days shorten and we turn the clocks back, it may be a great time to think about installing or improving lights in some of our indoor spaces. Maybe you could use a bit more light to see the drill size marking in the workshop. Or, perhaps, you’d like to be able to sort carrots better with a bit more visibility. Or, maybe that corner were you perch with the laptop and order forms could use some task lighting.

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Giving a Dairy Barn New Life at New Leaf Organics

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A video version of this case study is available here and a printable PDF is available here.

Jill Kopel owns and operates New Leaf Organics in Bristol, Vermont and has over 19 years of farming experience. After many years of growing crops and growing the business she made the decision to invest significantly in her wash/pack space to improve many aspects of the farm. 

Jill now is able to wash her carrots inside the brightly lit space out of the rain, blazing sun or cold temperatures.
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Project Planning for Postharvest Efficiency, Profitability & Food Safety (Free 8-Part Packshed Webinar)

The UVM Extension Produce Safety Team has developed a video series focused on postharvest upgrades for your farm. Whether your project is organizing a relatively simple outside wash station or building a full packshed from scratch, we share the principles and practice with examples to help you make the most of it.

An outline of this training is available in written form in the blog post Planning an Efficient and Safe Wash/Pack Area.

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The Ag Engineering Podcast

Where we talk tools, tips and techniques to improve the sustainability of your farm

Andy was awarded a 2019 Northeast SARE Grant to produce The Ag Engineering Podcast. In this podcast, we share tools, tips and techniques to improve sustainability on your farm. It was launched in December 2019. This podcast features short-format, easy to digest, topic-centered episodes that dive right into the details. This project is supported by an advisory team of farmers who help guide the overall development of the podcast.

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Safe and Efficient Drying and Curing of CBD Hemp

UVM Extension Agricultural Engineering, Resource Innovation Institute, Efficiency Vermont, and VT Division of Fire Safety recently teamed up to provide a webinar as part of the UVM Extension NW Crops and Soils Team Hemp and UVM Extension New Farmer Project series. This session focused on safely and efficiently drying and curing hemp to support customer quality needs. Continue reading “Safe and Efficient Drying and Curing of CBD Hemp”

A Visit to Market Farm Implement

While in Pennsylvania for a conference, I made a side trip to Market Farm Implement in the south western part of the state. They are a popular manufacturer, importer and dealer for small scale vegetable crop machinery. Market Farm Implement have ads in publications like Vegetable Growers but their online presence is limited which poses challenges in discovering their company in today’s digital age. This motivated the visit to see behind the curtain and check out what they have going on at their facility. I met with Dave Moore and he showed me around their 3 buildings full of small scale equipment ranging from soil prep, cultivation, planting, harvesting, sorting and more. Here is a playlist of videos about various equipment we talked about and photos shown below to give you a look inside for yourself.

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Washing Machine Greens Spinners: Cleaning Tips

Washing machine greens spinners are often used for drying greens on small farms. They do require attention to cleaning and maintenance in order to keep them in sanitary working condition. This blog post highlights some tips to cleaning your greens spinner and provides links to six videos that focus on how to best clean these machines. You can watch the whole playlist below.

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Necessity is the Mother of Invention: Across The Fence TV Segment on DIY Handwashing Stations

Across The Fence recently featured one of the latest projects we’ve been working on: “Improving Handwashing Stations“. This project focuses on a hands-free, mobile handwashing station for use on farms, at farmers’ markets, or in other public spaces.

This work was also highlighted in the Bennington Banner on June 9, 2020.

Improving Handwashing Stations

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A downloadable PDF of this blog post and assembly guide is available here.

Handwashing has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of transmission of human pathogens between people. But, sometimes we are inconveniently far from the closest wash room and sink. Hand washing stations provide a portable means of washing hands on farms, at farmers’ markets, and at recreational sites. This guide was motivated by a desire to improve current handwashing station practice with a focus on minimizing or even removing all contact between the user’s hands and surfaces of the station.

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Spray Tables for Produce Farms

Would you rather listen to this blog post? You can listen and learn about these spray table options via this episode of The Ag Engineering Podcast.

Spray tables are commonly used to rinse bunched produce or crops with relatively high soil load. They are typically made from a porous horizontal material supported by a framed structure. A very common approach is to use 2×4 lumber for framing and either hardware cloth or welded wire fencing stapled to the top. Although this approach is inexpensive and uses readily available materials this design has two main downsides:

  1. Wood and galvanized metal are not very easy to clean completely.
  2. Wood and galvanized metal will wear over time with repeated soaking and drying cycles.

If we apply the principles of hygienic design to a spray table it becomes clear that we should think about the cleanability of the materials and their assembly while also thinking about how the materials will hold up over time.

Below are some options for spray table materials and approaches that should help make yours easier to clean and more durable. These options are sorted by lowest per square foot cost to highest. Support structure and legs were not accounted for in the cost.

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