Left: The AVSealer with true temperature control; Right top: Spectrum Technologies's WaterScout sensor; Bottom: Control weeds without harming the cover crop with Aurora Gold Hard Fescue..

Left: The AVSealer with true temperature control; Right top: Spectrum Technologies’s WaterScout sensor; Bottom: Control weeds without harming the cover crop with Aurora Gold Hard Fescue..

Fresh-cut packaging machine

Key Technology has redesigned its AVSealer for packaging fresh-cut produce to include a "true-temperature" control and CE mark for sealing consistency and to meet the highest safety standards, according to a news release. The CE mark is a mandatory European label that indicates conformity with European health and safety requirements.

The new true-temperature control eliminates burn through and seals that don’t hold while reducing energy use. Bags up to 18.5 inches wide can be sealed with the AVSealer at the rate of 4 to 6 bags per minute with vacuum and up to 8 bags per minute without vacuum.

The semi-automatic packaging machine heat-seals a variety of bag sizes with or without a vacuum and has an optional gas flush cycle to maximize production flexibility and satisfy the demands of a wide range of fresh-cut applications, all on one system. Its small size (only 73 pounds) and open design make it easier to clean than traditional closed-chamber heat sealers that often weigh 100 to 400 pounds.

For more information, visit http://key.thomasnet.com/ category.

Web site for used equipment

John Deere has overhauled and redesigned its MachineFinder Web site (www.MachineFinder.com) to make it easier for customers to find the equipment they’re looking for and to improve the user experience. The revamped MachineFinder Web site features an advanced search and browsing system, built-in shipping integration, and the ability to save searches, according to a news release from John Deere. Google maps can help users view equipment locations and obtain driving directions, and a new detailed gallery allows views for higher quality equipment photos and information. Shipping integration offers a link to a network of specialized tractor and heavy equipment haulers, allowing users to obtain immediate shipping cost estimates and receive competitive transportation bids. Additionally, users can register a profile on MachineFinder, allowing them to save selected equipment, searches, and user settings. There is also a link to John Deere Credit for financing information.

WaterScout soil moisture sensor

Spectrum Technologies, Inc., has introduced a new sensor called the WaterScout that measures soil moisture with little or no disturbance to the root zone. The thin, tapered shape allows for easy insertion into the soil or growing medium and can be used with a handheld reader. Or, the sensor can be buried to track soil moisture changes over time with a data-logging weather machine. For more information, call (800) 248-8873 or visit www.specmeters.com.

Ripening test for apples

The Dutch biotechnology company NSure, which developed the pear ripening test called RipeNSure in 2007, has developed a similar test for apples. The assay test measures the activity profile of pear or apple fruit genes, and by determining which genes are active, conclusions are drawn as to how far ripening has proceeded, explains NSure’s Managing Director Monique van Wordragen. The response time of the assay is no more than two working days, and samples can be taken on site at the orchard. According to NSure information, the result of a single analysis is an indication of the average ripening stage for a plot of trees. Two analyses performed within one week time in between enables NSure to calculate the optimal harvest time for long- or short-term storage in pears. Since RipeNSure’s introduction to the Dutch market in 2007, pear growers, fruit consultants, and fruit auctions have used the technology. See www.nsure.eu for additional information.

Electric, all-terrain vehicles

Barefoot Motors of Ashland, Oregon, recently launched their electric, heavy-duty all-terrain vehicle designed for agricultural applications. Their new product, the Model One, is 100 percent electric, is four-wheel drive powered by a dual motor, and weighs about 800 pounds. It is a zero emissions vehicle, clean and quiet, and can be powered by renewable energy sources. Visit www.bare footmotors.com for more information.

Lower energy bills

Seattle, Washington-based Powerit Solutions is helping cold storage operators lower their monthly utility bills. Using Demand Response technology, a large commercial cold storage facility of fruit in California’s San Joaquin Valley reduced its monthly power bill by 17 percent, with a 35 percent decrease in peak power demand and a 13 percent reduction in daily kilowatt usage. For more information or to read case studies from recent clients, visit their Web site at http://poweritsolutions.com.

Vineyard cover crop

Aurora Gold Hard Fescue is a perennial grass cover for vineyards from Rose Agri-Seed, Inc., of Canby, Oregon. The noncreeping fescue cover crop, which was developed using natural plant-breeding techniques, is designed to help control weeds, soil erosion, dust, and mites. It is tolerant of low rates of glyphosate, which, when applied at low rates, can control weeds, weedy grasses, and invasive species without damaging the cover crop. Because it is shallow rooted, it will not aggressively compete with vines for water and nutrients. It is low growing, requires little mowing, and is tolerant of drought and shade.

For more information, contact Rose Agri-Seed at (503) 651-2130.