With innovative tools becoming more available for salad greens production from field prep through harvest, mixed greens are becoming more attractive for farmers. Postharvest handling and wash/pack still causes a bottleneck for many farms. Today we share some knowledge on a piece of equipment recently adopted at Jericho Settlers Farm in Jericho, VT.
This Greens Washline is made by China Joy Equipment. They call it an “Air Bubble Washing Machine.” This has been an affordable piece of equipment to allow their farm to scale up greens production for $13,900. Mark Fasching from Jericho Settlers Farm was gracious enough to share some of his experiences sourcing this machine from the other side of the world.
The purchasing details are as follows:
- Purchased through Alibaba.com via a grower selected vendor: $7,500
- Ship to Boston: $900
- Tariff to get out of customs: $2,500
- Shipping broker: $1,000
- Local electrician had to redo some wiring, add new fuses, add new waterproof control box: $2,000
Total Cost: $13,900
How much can you wash?
With two people we can push through and average of 150 pounds per hour. We’re typically washing 500 pounds in a session. That time includes the whole process of washing spinning and recording data. If the greens have some weeds in them and need pick time before going in the washer which can double the time.
Acquisition of this equipment involved lots of communication about the machine. The manufacturer can add items if you ask, so ask for photos and videos of what they are offering. For example, the conveyor belt was originally stainless mesh in the photos but we asked for a plastic belted conveyor which they swapped out at no cost. They built the unit for us and then sent photos and a video of the machine to us via email. We wired the money to their bank in Hong Kong. This was scary but there were no issues. We worked with a US shipping broker to line up customs and shipping paperwork.
If you are considering a machine like this be ready to spend money on electrical updates. They can do both 3 phase and single phase. We ended up burning up a variable frequency drive (VFD) speed control in their electrical cabinet. They did send us one in the mail at no cost and their upgraded VFD included a fan for cooling. An electrician went through the unit and ended up putting in fuses to protect electrical components and pumps (air and water). He also upgraded the control box to NEMA 4 (indoor/outdoor enclosure) and made it bigger. The original control box was small and not a great waterproof design. This probably led to a build-up of heat that fried the VFD.
The machine is working well now. Chinese stainless steel is pretty thin. Some rust spots are showing up on the frame which is likely a coated steel.
Even with all the added costs it’s still about half the price of a US or European counterpart. If I had to do it again I would have AZS custom build a unit.
See a video of this washline in action to get a better sense of how it works!