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Nelson Irrigation's R33 Rotator
 

   
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Tracking Applications for EPA Data

Do you get a little annoyed when someone tells you how to do something when they don’t know all the facts?

I know I do.

Well, potato growers have the opportunity to take proactive action in the sustainability and traceability agricultural movement through a program with the National Potato Council.

There’s no avoiding the increasing demand for sustainable measures throughout the food industry. From producer to processor to shipper to retailer, all are impacted and the best measure of action is to seize as much control of the issue as possible.

Who knows better then the farmer application uses and amounts used in his operation? No one.

Unfortunately, any discussion of sustainable standards also includes more paperwork. It’s onerous and time consuming but if growers don’t take control of the situation then it will, by default, be overseen by government fiat.

That is where the NPC’s data collection program my provide some form of relief from EPA’s formula of using default assumptions in determining rates of usage by farmers.

During a recent conversation with Don Sklarczyk, former NPC president, he said that while serving on the NPC’s environmental affairs committee prior to his term as president, they continually ran into the problem of lacking true application data for crop protection products.

Without reliable data from growers, EPA was forced by legal challenges to use default assumptions in determining rate of usage by farmers. The default assumption is the maximum application of crop protection material the label allows and the maximum amount of applications.

The bottom line was that the potato industry lacked true application information and that was negatively impacting the ability to use crop protection materials, Sklarczyk said.

NPC is trying to preempt and recalibrate the EPA’s formula by collecting data from growers showing real rates of application and amount of application.

According to Sklarczyk the data collected by Agridata Partners will be grouped to create data sets of information without identifying any single grower’s information.

Sklarczyk said that they hope to have enough growers in 2010 providing information to generate reports that surpass any previous available information. The value of the information to provide true use will have tremendous value for the potato industry and Sklarczyk encourages all growers to participate while also assuring that an individual’s information will not be revealed or compromised.

Through the NPC’s initiative growers may reclaim some of the ground lost in the initial drive toward sustainable standards. It won’t be easy, but if you don’t do it someone else will and the level of annoyance may increase exponentially.


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Jonathan Whitworth
USDA

 

Market Report

Acrylamide is the latest problem area in the food industry and it seems that the potato industry has taken the hardest hits. Eight years ago, Swedish researchers reported the presence of elevated levels of acrylamide in baked and fried starchy foods processed at high temperatures, such as bread, cookies and french fries.

At the University of Idaho’s Kimberly Research and Extension Center, Sanjay Gupta, a potato postharvest physiologist, has been researching acrylamides for almost five years and last year received funding from the Idaho Potato Commission to develop potato varieties with reduced sugars in an effort to lower acrylamide levels in potatoes.

But first, what is acrylamide and why the red flags?

Acrylamide is a white, odorless crystalline solid, soluble in water, ethanol, ether and chloroform. Industrially it is used to synthesize polyacrylamides, used as thickeners in the treatment of waste-water, gel electrophoresis, glues, cosmetics and paper-making. Acrylamide is a known carcinogen that has been shown to cause cancer in animals.

Therein lies the problem for the potato industry.

Acrylamides are formed through a process called the Maillard reaction at temperatures above 248° F.

Plants naturally contain starch and the starch converts to sucrose, a substrate the reducing sugars of glucose and fructose. When these foods are cooked, fried or baked at temperatures above 248° F, the reducing sugars combine with the amino acid asparagine creating acrylamide.

The Maillard reaction begins slowly, but when the temperature increases to 338° F there is a huge increase in the level of acrylamide formation, Gupta said.

Obviously, the creation of acrylamides in our foods has been going on since human beings discovered fire and the benefits of cooking food.

“It is in nature and you’ve been eating it long before,” Gupta said. “They have been eating and nothing happened and all of a sudden it becomes a big deal, but it’s also a little bit about consumer education and sometimes people try to blow it up just for their own benefit to scare people.”

Gupta said that the European approach where they look at overall consumption is a better approach in developing a warning system regarding acrylamide.

“Europeans, they try to look at how much a person consumes, like coffee has only 2 to 3 micrograms, but you drink more coffee than you eat french fries every day. Per serving would be a better indicator,” Gupta said.

Gupta’s current acrylamide research has two goals, he said.

“What we are trying to do is find a potato variety that accumulates a less rate of sugar. My research is two-fold. One, I’m working with the breeders in the early selection, when they select the crosses and try to select the good varieties. One of the main corrections they are looking for is good sweetening resistance. That means when it is stored in the cold it will not accumulate too much reducing sugar,” Gupta said. “Conversion is controlled by an enzyme. The enzyme converts the sucrose into glucose and fructose.

“I’m using that enzyme as a marker to help breeders in the breeding program and that will save them time.”

The second part of his research, funded by the Idaho Potato Commission, has him studying Idaho-grown varieties, store them in different temperatures and then determine how much acrylamide the varieties accumulate at the differing temperatures.

 

Nelson Irrigation's R33 Rotator

In March Nelson Irrigation, based out of Walla Walla, Wash., announced the release of the R33 Rotator. The R33 uses Nelson’s Rotator Technology to provide longer throw distance, fight the wind and deliver uniform coverage. Nozzle sizes are available in 9/64”, 5/32”, 11/64” and 3/16”.

John Rowley, Nelson’s Rotator product manager, said the development of a sprinkler with the R33’s specific flow performance began about five years ago.

Created as an upgrade to replace the Nelson F33 brass sprinkler, the R33 is primarily made of engineered plastics after years of testing for maximum strength, impact resistance and long-term durability after extended exposure to the sun.

The R33 has a new patented two-speed drive mechanism that alternates between faster and slower rotation speeds. The faster speed pulls the distribution of the waster in while the slower speed extends the throw radius. The location of fast rotation segment is covered over by a slow rotation segment incrementally with each rotation.

The R33 is suitable for permanent-set, portable pipe and wheel-line application for all type of crops, including forage crops, vegetables, grain, and pastures, as well as tree and vine crops.