As part of continued business expansion and initiatives to increase processing efficiencies, Suffolk Produce Ltd (SPL) made the decision to invest in brand new vegetable handling equipment from Tong Engineering.
Based on the East Coast of Suffolk, SPL is a conglomerate of 11 family farms, specialising in high-volume crop production for the fresh produce, packing and processing industries. Farming a combined land base of over 30,000 acres of land, the agricultural group grows a high tonnage of onions, carrots, potatoes, parsnips and swede, which are lifted and distributed to packers, processors, wholesalers and supermarkets across the country.
As well as Nurture, Assured Produce (RTFA), LEAF and Field to Fork accreditations, SPL is highly regarded as one of the country’s most energy efficient agricultural firms. Working in conjunction with Natural England ELS and HLS schemes, the east coast grower has introduced a long-term sustainability plan that incorporates generating electricity via an anaerobic digestion system and specifying energy-efficient farm equipment.
“With a number of large growing sites across the region, SPL prides itself on providing high quality, high volume crop throughout the year,” commented Harry Kester from SPL. By working alongside our sister company, 3Ms, we have developed a bespoke growing plan that allows us to provide a secure crop supply by growing early and late varieties, as well as traditional types.
“However, to ensure optimum crop quality and meet demand for field-fresh produce delivered on tight deadlines, time really is of the essence. Continuing our investment in innovative machinery is key, especially equipment that allows us to reduce the time taken to grade and box crop, while ensuring the gentlest of handling.
“After researching a number of different options, we came across Tong’s Fieldloader – a mobile system allowing crop inspection straight from the harvester and direct loading into bulker lorries for immediate distribution. By working in partnership with Tong, we were able to specify a completely bespoke unit, designed with our exact needs in mind.
“Featuring a single infeed hopper leading to a 12-row coil cleaner, soil conveyor, twin side conveyors, soil under-conveyor, dual inspection stands and, finally, an extending elevator, the custom system is perfect for our mobile handling requirements. What’s more, the Fieldloader is manufactured with Tong’s Blue Inverter Technology – a state of the art energy management package that uses electric inverter drives to ensure exact energy delivery and power on demand. This guarantees low running costs and minimises our energy usage.
“Although we haven’t run it at full-tilt, the system does exactly what we imagined. We’re now able to outload over 600 tonnes of crop on this one machine every day, which can then be distributed to our customers directly from the field.
“As this eliminates the need to transport crop to a central location for boxing, we have significantly reduced handling time, which allows us to meet tight deadlines and exceed customer expectations. What’s more, as the system has been developed with gentle handling in mind, crop gets to its end destination in optimum condition, ensuring a long shelf life while maximising profitability.”