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Modernisation of Agricultural Holdings Case Study

The purchase of an asparagus grader by A.E Browns

Background
The farm grows sweetcorn, squash, pumpkin, asparagus, strawberries and cereals over 1400 acres. Over the last 5 years A.E Browns asparagus production has increased due to new plantings and the maturing of existing beds. Through experience it is known that asparagus graders produce the best results when the asparagus is freshly cut from the field. The farm previously had an old low-capacity grader.

About the project
The project was to replace A.E Browns existing low capacity asparagus grader with a new higher capacity grader. The new grader sorts and weigh spears as well as records the number of kilos processed thus improving the grading efficiency of the operation as well as increasing the capacity.

When freshly picked, the spears are firm and crisp and therefore the trimming operation produces an evenly cleanly cut sample a prerequisite for the market. The higher capacity enables all of the day’s asparagus to be processed on the same day as it is cut increasing the quality of the finished product.

In some seasons asparagus growers can experience “flushes” caused by temperature changes, this puts pressure on the picking and therefore the grading of the of the asparagus. If it is not cut in time the tip will start to flower leaving the spear un-saleable. The grader purchased weighs all graded products to a set weight ready for bunching or packing into boxes ready to be sent to retailers.

How does LEADER funding help?
LEADER is able to provide up to 40% grant assistance for some projects that seek to modernise agricultural holdings by purchasing equipment that adds value to farm products. The applications are made on a competitive process and a maximum grant available for a single project is £50,000.

The grader was put to great use in 2011 when the first spears were cut in early April, as a result of one of the hottest spring months on record. Ben’s asparagus achieved a Royal seal of approval when it was selected for the menu at William and Kate’s wedding.

For more information on LEADER funding contact Carol Flux on 01983 201563 or email Carol Flux