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B-hive Innovations collaborates on ground-breaking project to reduce potato bruising and waste

B-hive Innovations, a cutting-edge, agri-tech research and development business, is partnering with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) on a collaborative programme called TuberTurgor. The aim is to reduce the risk of potato bruising and develop technologies that could effectively minimise supermarket waste.

The business secured funding from Innovate UK as part of its Analysis for Innovators (A4I) programme to support the nine-month project. The collaboration with scientists at NPL will focus on investigating non-destructive methods of measuring turgor pressure in potatoes.

Turgor pressure is the force inside cells that pushes outwards, enabling cells to withstand shocks and reducing bruising.

The research team aims to gather extensive data and proof of concepts to develop tools that can automatically sort different fresh produce based on its bruising risk. This could be crucial in reducing waste and optimizing the supply chain.

Dr Barbara Correia, UKRI Future Leaders Fellow and lead of the TuberTurgor project at B-hive, emphasized the need for early detection measures to tackle potato bruising caused by prolonged droughts from rising global temperatures.

Such periods of drought increase the susceptibility of potatoes to bruising damage during handling. Dr. Correia highlighted the importance of investigating methods to minimize bruising and reduce the impacts on growers and supermarkets.

Exploring Testing Methodologies

Collaborating with NPL, B-hive will examine a range of techniques to measure turgor pressure, including physical hardness measures, ultrasonic and spectroscopic testing, and high-resolution imaging approaches.

The team will define the research protocol before conducting the first testing phase from August to October. This information will inform the subsequent testing phase, which will gather extensive data using the most promising techniques, continuing until the completion of the project in March.

Dr Tony Maxwell, technical lead at the National Physical Laboratory, expressed excitement about applying NPL’s expertise in measurement techniques to an issue that directly influences agricultural productivity and the environment, while Dr Andrew Gill, general manager at B-hive, explained that the TuberTurgor project aligns with their goal of helping supply chains minimize waste.

Bruising leads to significant losses in productivity and reputational damage for both growers and supermarkets. Securing funding for this project is a significant step toward maintaining high-quality end produce and assisting growers in managing their crops effectively.


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