BeetLog (AKA Connected Beet)
(Feature image credit: Martin Lishman Ltd, UK)
The ‘Connected Beet’ was a highlight of the IIRB 2018 Congress for me. It’s a 3D printed ‘sugar beet’, with a sensor inside that reads number and magnitude of impacts on the beet as it moves through a harvester, or any other process a beet may go through. It also has the ability to give an instant, or near instant, read out to an app – this is why it was called the ‘Connected Beet’ by Tereos, the co-developers. The manufacturer of the beet calls it BeetLog.
BeetLog is manufactured by Martin Lishman, from the UK. They’ve produced similar products for potatoes, apples, and avocados, which have apparently been very successful in achieving industry adoption. For sugar beets, I believe that the product is new. What is not new is that we know impacts in the sugar beet harvesting and handling process causes breakage, wounding, and bruising. This damage will increase sugar loss in storage and as such should be reduced as appropriate. ‘As appropriate’ as there is of course a cost to reduced damage at harvest. The cleaning process is not only a major source of damage, it’s a major source of cleanness. And less cleanness costs both transport and penalties at the factory. Finding that optimum in this equation – or near enough – is a year-by-year, machine-by-machine, field-by-field challenge. BeetLog is possibly a valuable tool to have in the tool-kit for this challenge. For our part, we don’t have an explicit need for them in our research program for 2018, no matter how much fun they’d be to start using. And at cost of something like €2000 each (don’t take that as gospel – it was more a guess than a quote), we need an explicit use for them. We also want to see how useful they’ve been for the others we know are using them.
If you’re looking to order a BeetLog, contact Martin Lishamn. If you want them for 2018, do it now: they’re currently manufactured on demand, so the turn around is close to 12 weeks.