CU LTIVATION AND TECHNOLOGY Ten years of Smart Grader practical experience: ‘grading much more seed’ process of retiring from the family business. ‘At a certain point I’ll be the only one here who’s grading 100 hectares of seed potatoes, as we don’t have any extra personnel. His brother Patrick is also part of the company, but he also works as a salesman at a mechanisation company in the region and he’s not involved in the grading activities because of that job. Further reasons are: grading more potatoes in the right sizes, less inspection work and the ability to grade problematic lots with major defects and deliver according to NAK standards. We try to grow as many elongated varieties as possible, because these offer the greatest advantage for the Smart Grader.’ Understanding and fun are part of it When the Smart Grader arrived, the jump grader wasn’t immediately chucked out, Uitdewilligen says. ‘To get some experience with the Smart Grader, we first ran a year with the old and the new machine, which wasn’t such a bad decision. We also had to get used to electronic grading. Apart from the fact that there were a few technical shortcomings, which were neatly resolved, we had to learn to discover the many possibilities of the technology. How to set the machine as accurately as possible for the various parameters such as length and external defects. You need to have both understanding and fun in the process. I’ve made it into a sport to set the grader as accurately as possible.’ And that’s proved to be quite a success. ‘We now grade 15 to 20 percent more for size than with the jump grader. You can calculate what that yields on 100 hectares of seed potatoes with an average yield of 45 tons per hectare.’ Only this year, that calculation doesn’t work. The crops in the Zeeland-Flanders region in the Netherlands were hit hardest by drought in the past summer. ‘This season’s yields per hectare are a third lower’, says Uitdewilligen. Prices compensate for some of it, but that’s relati vely limited. ‘We only have 4 hectares of free Spunta, the rest is in the pools of Stet Holland and Den Hartigh.’ GEJO GRADING SERVICES DEMONSTRATES NEW SMART GRADER EVOLUTION AT ITS OWN LOCATION GeJo Grading Services of Luttelgeest is a company that was founded in 2009 by Gerard Blok (l) and Jos Broeders. GeJo Grading Services of Luttelgeest is a company that was founded in 2009 by Gerard Blok and Jos Broeders. The company’s head office is the Blok tree nursery in the village of Luttelgeest. Ever since the development of the Smart Grader which, at the time, took place at Miedema in Winsum, Broeders has been closely associated with the grading technology and has remained involved as a consultant in sales and services under the banner of both Miedema and Dewulf from the Belgian village of Roeselare. Last summer, Dewulf decided to stop the sale of machinery and found GeJo Grading Services willing to take over. Until then, the production of the grading machinery always took place in Winsum and, according to GeJo, this will continue to be the case. Blok and Broeders have recently set up a demo machine at the Luttelgeest site to introduce interested parties to the possibilities of electronic grading. Here, seed potato growers can bring along their own seed potatoes and experience for themselves what options the machine has to offer. This is the latest model with a new logo and a slightly different colour scheme in red/black. The name of the machine is Smart Grader Evolution. This new model incorporates all the practical aspects that experience has shown still required improvement. These include even better cameras and associated lighting. Also, a double air pressure system for the ejection of tubers has been installed. The single blower is for small tubers, and the system doubles the air pressure when bigger tubers pass through. Furthermore, the machine is completely digitally operated. The control panel has disappeared and all settings are now run via monitor, tablet, smartphone or PC. When investing in the Smart Grader, it is possible for entrepreneurs to make use of the Vamil and Mia tax and environmental investment deduction schemes. 20 Potato World 2019 • number 3 Pagina 19

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