Native Son farm is a small diversified vegetable farm in Tupelo Mississippi, who had been washing vegetables by hand and started looking at automated wash lines. With zero experience on automated washing, he began first researching the common barrel washer, reading reviews, and watching videos online. Will Reed reached out to Deerfield Supply out Kentucky who distributed AZS equipment. Upon meeting Harvey from AZS, he learned about the rinse conveyor, which is less aggressive on the crops than a barrel washer. It is also designed with cleaning in mind which has a high level of food safety appeal.
With the desire to put it to use before the end of the season Will ordered one up, and had it delivered in just a few weeks. His cost, including freight, was ~$6,800 and took delivery in early December. Native Son Farm, being a small, organic, diversified farm is the minority in their area and didn’t have many collogues to reach out to for advice, so reaching across the states and finding other farms similar to them via Instagram was the best way for research and collaboration.
Will hasn’t had the machine very long and still is experimenting with settings, and crop conditions but some early data he shared is as follows:
Crops washed: Carrots, Kale, winter radish, spinach, turnips
Throughput achieved: ~150lbs/hr per person on the line. With a 4 person crew, ~600lbs/hr can be achieved.
Comments: It’s fairly large for small wash areas (approximately 3’ wide by 12’ long) and you need space on either end for loading and sorting of produce
It’s fairly loud to work around and takes 3-4 people to have an efficient production run.With pretty muddy clay soil conditions cleaning it has to be done regularly. Cleaning out the valves and nozzles to keep it from clogging can be needed as often as every 15 minutes and a deeper cleaning including removing the mud from the bottom of the unit needs to be done after a run time of about 2 hours. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because a break is needed after a 2 hour run time and having a quiet moment is appreciated.
Will is hoping to use it on a weekly basis during large batch runs, as opposed to a daily small number of crops but does point out that the machine is very versatile and will be able to clean a large variety of crops. Will is looking forward to integrating this rinse conveyor into farming practices this upcoming season and seeing the value it provides over washing vegetables by hand. We look forward to following up after a season of use and hearing how it works for his highly diverse farm after it gets used for regular weekly production.