26 May 1995

Sensor to sort out the spuds

POTATO sorting by hand could be but a painful memory in years to come if a technique proposed by Andrew Muir, of the Scottish Centre of Agricultural Engineering, comes to fruition.

"Each potato disease has its own light spectre when illuminated with infra-red light," he says. "If a sensor is constructed which can detect these particular wave bands, then it would be possible to link it to a sorting system."

Mr Muir, who reports that he has received financial backing for his project to the tune of £600,000, believes that it is possible to construct a system capable of sorting potatoes at a rate of 10/sec. Those which are diseased or blemished would be ejected from the conveyor by a jet of air.