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Potato Store design: the Dutch, the American or the British way?

 Ray Andrews and his team
February 27, 2012
Potato store operators must ensure they specify both airflow and air pressure when planning new stores, says Ray Andrews, from crop storage specialists Crop Systems Limited.

If they only specify air flow, they run the risk that their store will not work efficiently in bad years, because the store’s fans simply will not be able to maintain airflow through wet or dirty crops.

While there is much discussion on the correct airflow at the moment – and specifically about the merits of airflows used in Dutch and American stores – he questions whether the figures these countries use are relevant for the UK. In particular he warns against quoting figures for air flow volume without pairing it with system pressure:

“British potato growers should recognize the risk of adopting systems that are not proven in British conditions. The penalty for failure is severe, and store operators should stick to some basic rules when equipping new facilities.

“Different equipment suppliers specify fans that are bare quoted at anything from 40 cubic feet per minute to 90 cubic feet per minute per tonne (cfm), but do not quote the pressure.

“The widely accepted British standard is 40 cfm at two inches water gauge pressure, a combination which has been proven over decades to be appropriate for British conditions. That is why Crop Systems Limited has always used it when designing stores.

Potato Storage in boxes

Mr Andrews says adding an inverter to a poorly designed fan system and the problems multiply, while adding one to a well-designed system enables operators to run them at full speed when needed, but then cut speeds when less airflow is required:

“As you can run a fan at 80% capacity for just 50% of the electricity, there are significant cost savings to be made. In Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research Trials (INVERTER TRIAL S402) on over 15 stores, reducing fans speed to 80% gave a corresponding volume of 80% - proof, if any were required, of the value of inverters.

“Store design needs to take into account worst case conditions, late harvests, lots of wet soil and excess tonnage. These are exactly the combination of problems that will test a store to its limits and cause it to fail if it is not well enough equipped”.
Companies in this Article
Crop Systems Ltd from the United Kingdom designs and installs potato and crop storage controllers and equipment for farmers, growers and produce suppliers