5 June 1998

Probing quality by load

A NEW rapid method of checking the quality of beet delivered to factories has been developed in Denmark. In theory it could permit individual loads to be turned away if they fail to meet specific targets.

In practice a small core is taken from the lorry by a probe fitted with a head flaker. The sugar content of the resulting juice is measured with an in-built near-infra-red (NIR) analyser.

The probe also incorporates a gamma-ray stone and soil detector which reveals the quality and quantity of soil on the beet, explains Daniscos Lars Jorgensen.

Also included in the system is a laser scanner which "looks" at the top of the load and using computer software works out the level of top tare.

Tested for four years at the companys Nykobing factory the equipment is said to provide results equally as reliable as those obtained from the Cocksedge system used by British Sugar. More significantly they can be available within as little as 1.5mins, according to Mr Jorgensen. However routine use of the new equipment will depend on negotiations with growers, he notes.

DS is currently seeking an external partner for manufacture.

Under current UK arrangements test results on deliveries may not be available for up to 24 hours, acknowledges a BS spokesman. However the company has always had the right to reject loads clearly unsuitable for processing after discussion with local NFU factory observers, he notes.