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TechUpdate
from the Agricultural Engineering Program


Greetings!

It won't be long now until cooler stocks are slightly spare and greenhouses and high tunnels are heating up. Look for notices about upcoming greenhouse tours and remember to let me know if you have any interest in a biomass boiler for greenhouse heating.

In other news, the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund recently released a series of videos on Bioenergy in Vermont that are worth a look. Slides from the presentations given at the 2013 VVBGA meeting are available online now. The remote monitoring project is going strong and we'll be looking at instrumenting greenhouses for side-by-side comparisons of energy efficiency improvements this Spring.

My best,

Chris Callahan, PE
UVM Extension
Howe Business Park - 1 Scale Ave, Suite 55
Rutland, VT 05701
802-773-3349 x277 - chris.callahan@uvm.edu
John Williamson of State Line FarmThe Vermont Bioenergy Initiative (VBI), a project of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
recently released a series of videos summarizing their farm-based bioenergy related projects through-out Vermont.

This project has benefited from the participation and support of several UVM Researchers and Outreach Professionals. Visit the YouTube channel  for all the videos.

Data equipment
As an engineer, I love data.  It turns out farmers do also.  The power of data is three-fold. 
  1. It is inspired by inquisition.
  2. It then raises additional questions, and
  3. With further review, it should answer the original questions and improve life.
     This remote data monitoring project allows for wireless sensors to be placed in the location of interest to measure, record and transmit temperature, relative humidity, illuminance, voltage, and many other parameters to a remote server for review.  Data monitoring can be done around the clock and recording can be as frequent as every 30 seconds. The real benefit of this system is that it is always on and that reveals system behaviors that would otherwise go unnoticed.
     The principle behind the remote date monitoring project is to allow for easier access to process data for Vermont's growers and to demonstrate this type of system. As farms push the seasonal envelope in response to increased local demand, year-round production and long term storage of fruits and vegetables will be increasingly important. I plan to use this system at multiple locations in Vermont to collect data on refrigerated storage, greenhouse and high tunnel production, and whatever else comes along that is interesting and valuable.

Read the full article...

2013 VVBGA Annual Meeting 

 

I had the pleasure of joining the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Grower's Association on January 28th for their annual meeting.  This event is packed with presentations ranging from the latest pests to farmer outreach in distant lands.

 

My talk was on crop storage, and it was a great chance to summarize my recent work in this area.

 

The presentation slides are available at the VVBGA's website. I'm still very grateful for the responses to the food storage survey, and we discussed these at the meeting.  I also highlighted 5 things I think are critical considerations for VT growers storing vegetables and berries.

  • Zoned Storage 
  • Measurement and Monitoring
  • Scouting
  • Cooler Audits
  • Technical Resources

 Small Scale Postharvest Practices 

  

This guide from the UC Davis Postharvest Center is jam packed with information relevant to VT's small-scale growers seeking improved post-harvest handling and processing. I think it is a nice companion to the  New England Vegetable Management Guide and USDA's Handbook 66

 

"The three main objectives of applying postharvest technology to harvested fruits and vegetables are:

  1. to maintain quality (appearance, texture, flavor and nutritive value)
  2. to protect food safety, and
  3. to reduce losses between harvest and consumption.

Effective management during the postharvest period, rather than the level of sophistication of any given technology, is the key in reaching the desired objectives. While large scale operations may benefit from investing in costly handling machinery and high-tech postharvest treatments, often these options are not practical for small-scale handlers. Instead, simple, low cost technologies often can be more appropriate for small volume, limited resource commercial operations, farmers involved in direct marketing, as well as for suppliers to exporters in developing countries."

 

Read the full article... 

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