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from the Agricultural Engineering Program

Over the past month I've been hearing an awful lot about food storage, both refrigerated and not.  For those of you who had a chance to complete the food storage survey, thanks!  The results are summarized below and in a bit more detail on the blog. Anyone who is planning to attend the NOFA-VT Winter Conference will hear more on this subject from me and have a chance to provide additional feedback. Based on the results of the survey, it looks like we'll be developing a farmer / processor course on cold storage for the coming year.

Also, if you grow in heated greenhouses and are interested in a pellet/corn boiler (250kBTU/hr input) let me know. We're in the process of determining the discount we might achieve with a volume purchase among several growers.

In either case, now may be the time of year to take stock and consider equipment maintenance and upgrades.  Be sure to check into Efficiency Vermont rebate programs that might be relevant to you.

As always, send me your thoughts on where you think the most significant technical challenges are in your operation. My complete contact information is provided on the left hand side of the AgEng blog and at the bottom of this eNewsletter.

Please forward this along to others that may be interested in signing-up to receive future eNewsletters automatically. If you have a mailing list please feel free to share this email with that list. 

Chris Callahan, PE
UVM Extension
Howe Business Park - 1 Scale Ave, Suite 55
Rutland, VT 05701
802-773-3349 x277 - chris.callahan@uvm.edu

The USDA regularly produces its Agricultural Handbook 66 - "The Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery Stocks" to help guide long term storage of these products. The handbook is dense with info on optimal storage conditions for everything from Jerusalem Artichokes to Watercress. Each crop is given a brief overview which summarizes the expected loss when stored at certain conditions and also a summary of respiration rates to help with the sizing of any refrigeration
that may be needed.


Many Vermont growers are probably familiar with the green book from 1986.  But did you know that a newer version is available online?  I was surprised to see how much the online version had that the printed version did not and (believe it or not) some recommendations have changed.  As you are putting things in storage for winter markets and other outlets, consider reviewing the revised Handbook 66 online. You may be surprised by what you find.


Are you considering any equipment upgrades in the near future.  Check Efficiency Vermont's webpage to research available technologies and to see if any of their many incentives apply to you. They have a set of rebates specific to agriculture and some for commercial refrigeration which may apply to folks with refrigerated storage on their farm.  Been thinking about an outside air economizer to take advantage of the chilly winter air in your walk-in?  Check out the rebates.  They even have some programs focused on heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems which may apply to greenhouse heating with a pellet furnace or boiler.

Thanks to all of those who took the time to respond to the food storage survey several weeks back.  The information you provided has been really helpful.  A clear desire for additional programming in this area was expressed, and I'll be working to develop that.

Here are the survey result highlights:

  • 82% of respondents expressed interest in a formalized course on food storage topics with the overwhelming majority preferring classroom / workshop format and/or a webinar.
  • 66% of respondents have plans to expand your food storage capacity in the next 24 months.
  • While most respondents expressed concern about the utility costs of their storage systems, relatively few (37%) currently know those costs.
  • 60% are storing in multiple zones (Temp and RH), but the overall knowledge of optimal storage conditions is relatively low (see USDA Handbook 66).

For the complete results check out our website. 



Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. University of Vermont Extension, Burlington, Vermont. University of Vermont Extension, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or familial status. UVM Extension helps individuals and communities put research-based knowledge to work.