28 April 1995

Leek washer copes with huge volumes

JETTED water, steel knives and rubber fingers are used by an automatic leek washer/trimmer to give crop throughputs of up to 6000 leeks an hour.

Built in Denmark by Dunkaer Maskinforretning, the Aeroe washer is an electrically-powered indoor unit intended for use by farmers growing more than 40ha (100 acres) of leeks.

Standen Reflexs Alex Mathias, who is importing the Aeroe to the UK, explains: "It is becoming increasingly difficult to find the labour to trim and prepare the crop out in the field – the traditional method. This system reduces that labour requirement and brings the job indoors."

Although the trimming/washing process itself is fully automatic, staff are still needed to feed on to and remove the crop from intake/discharge conveyors.

From the intake conveyor, the crop is subjected to an initial jet washing which removes the worst of the soil from the roots. Trimming knives then trim the roots before outer leaf stripping by two-fingered drums.

A second series of knives trims any remaining outer leaves and the crop is delivered out of the machine for sizing after a final blast of water.

Optional equipment includes a 2000-litre (440gal) underground water tank which allows the cleaning water to be recirculated.

Priced from £23,000 in the UK, the Aeroe will be targeted at specialist leek growers.

"There is an initial market for about 15 of these machines. After that demand has been met, the market will probably fall to about five units a year," Mr Mathias says. &#42

Six thousand leeks an hour can be cleaned with this Danish-built machine now being imported by Standen Reflex. Price is £23,000.