B-hive Innovations, the agri-tech research and development business established by Branston, has announced that it is partnering with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) on a collaborative programme to reduce potato bruising.
Named TuberTurgor, the nine-month project has attracted funding from Innovate UK under the Analysis for Innovators (A4I) programme. It aims to investigate non-destructive methods of measuring turgor pressure in potatoes, with a view to understanding and reducing bruising and physical damage in tubers. Ultimately the project could allow potatoes to be categorised according to bruising risk so appropriate management actions can be taken.
TuberTurgor project lead at B-hive, Dr Barbara Correia, who is a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, said, “Growers and supermarkets are increasingly impacted by potato bruising that is brought on by prolonged periods of drought from rising global temperatures. This can drastically increase susceptibility to bruising damage during handling, so there is a supply-chain need to investigate how this can be reduced through devising early, non-destructive detection measures.”
According to B-hive, the project will test a series of prospective methods to measure turgor pressure using a range of techniques, including physical hardness measures, ultrasonic and spectroscopic testing, and high-resolution imaging.
Dr Tony Maxwell, technical lead at the National Physical Laboratory, added, “NPL has a long history in the development of measurement techniques, and we are excited to be able to apply our expertise to an issue that so directly influences agricultural productivity and the environment.
Dr Andrew Gill, general manager at B-hive, commented, “The TuberTurgor project is our latest fresh-produce analysis initiative, which has been devised to help supply chains minimise waste. Bruising contributes to enormous losses in productivity and reputational damage for both growers and supermarkets. We are delighted to have secured funding that could help to retain a high overall quality of end produce, as growers face ongoing challenges to manage their crop.”