RE S EARCH IF THINGS ARE GOING WELL, WE ARE ASSESSING APPROXIMATELY 10,000 CLONES PER DAY NOW The Dutch plant breeding station, Agrico Research, beds out 100,000 first generation seedlings each year, and to be able to lift these efficiently, a new lifter has been developed. Gerrit Swart, a breeder working for the Dutch trading company, says that the new trial field lifter is a big step forward. “In the past, the clones were lifted by a row digger, after which we, as growers, had to stoop and walk past them to evaluate the seedlings. We placed a sign at each seedling that seemed interesting enough to keep. Then a group of pupils followed who put the potatoes in trays. The trays are still used, but we can now manage without the pupils by using automation”, says Swart. When the lifted plants arrive at the top of the lifter, the breeders of Agrico Research can easily evaluate the material. tubers of each plant are kept together. “We have found hardly any mixtures in second generation clones”, Swart emphasises. Agrico Research beds out 100,000 first generation seedlings each year, and to be able to lift these efficiently, a new lifter has been developed. “If things are going well, we can evaluate 20 rows of 270 metres, that is approximately 10,000 clones per day”, Swart works out. Each plant, so each potentially new variety, is transported via a steep conveyor belt with separators above it to a picking belt. Due to the fact that the travelling speed, belt speed and separator speed are synchronised, the Each nest of potatoes is transported via a steep belt conveyor with separators above it to a picking belt. Direct transport of waste When the lifted plants arrive at the top of the lifter, the Agrico Research breeders can easily evaluate the material. If the produce of a plant meets the goal of its hybridisation, Swart and his colleagues select six tubers and put these in a special chitting tray. If a plant does not meet its hybridisation goal, it is transported to a wooden crate and removed. Swart says that the direct transport of the material in the wooden crates is also a big improvement. “In the past we had to lift the plants that had not been selected separately with a lifter, which often caused problems, particularly when the weather conditions were no longer favourable.” Golf ball as boundary Between the various hybrids there is always one metre of space and a golf ball is set on the ridge. As soon as the ball appears on the belt, the growers know that the next hybrid is approaching. To avoid mistakes, the ball is put in a compartment together with the potatoes. In addition, the administration is done immediately on the lifter, to ensure that we know precisely which hybrid is in which tray and which compartment. ● As soon as the balls appears on the belt, the growers know that the next hybrid is approaching. 28 Potatoworld 2006 Pagina 27

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