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Fifty years of research celebrated at Sutton Bridge

PUBLISHED: 08:00 07 June 2014

Ray Andrews of Crop System

Ray Andrews of Crop System

Archant © 2010

Potato growers from across the region will be among those attending a landmark celebration of research into the storage of Britain’s staple crop.

Fifty years of work at what is now the Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research facility, run by the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board’s Potato Council, will be marked at a special event on Thursday July 3.

Gimingham-based Crop Systems, which designs and builds potato storage equipment, is sponsoring the day which will include seminars, open day style mini-workshops and demonstrations around the site.

Ray Andrews, managing-director of Crop Systems, said: “We are always striving to get better and better at storage and at Sutton Bridge they have been carrying out research for 50 years.

“We think that is quite special and wanted to be part of the event.”

He said there was constant demand to improve storage, with demands for less chemical involvement and – the big driver – greater energy efficiency.

Highlighting the advances being made, he said a system they had designed recently for a packing company had reduced their carbon footprint by 80pc.

The storage day, preceded by a celebratory industry dinner at King’s Lynn on the evening of July 2, is aiming to attract more than 200 key players from the potato industry.

A spokesman said: “This is an exceptional networking and business opportunity for all those involved in growing, storing, packing, processing and retailing the crop in this multi-billion pound industry.”

The then Potato Marketing Board’s Sutton Bridge experimental station was officially opened by Lady Mary Soames on April 15, 1964.

Sutton Bridge was the first dedicated research centre established to improve post-harvest handling of potatoes. It now concentrates on improving the quality of produce by undertaking research into different methods of storage as part of industry technology transfer.

In the past half century, the potato industry at all stages has been transformed. There has been a dramatic increase in average yields from 24t to 45 tonnes ha although total national production has dipped from 6.5m tonnes in 1964 to about 5.5m tonnes last year.

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