Lethbridge (Rural Roots Canada) – A research team out of Lethbridge College is looking at a unique technique that could improve quality control checks on potatoes: infrared technology. 

The researchers say using infrared technology would be far less invasive than the current, more destructive, quality testing method of cutting them open. That takes good potatoes off the production line for random testing, which is both costly and time-consuming. The cutting-edge, near-infrared hyperspectral imaging technology would test potato quality more quickly, cutting down on that destructive element.

Dr. Chandra Singh, Applied Research Chair in Agricultural Engineering and Technology at Lethbridge College, is heading up this project. He believes the technology could be a game-changer for potato processors. 

“If you cut ten potatoes and only one is bad, you throw them all out. And since it’s a manual operation, you have to look at the labour costs. Using this technology could save a lot of money,” says Dr. Singh. 

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Dr. Singh says infrared could determine and detect internal defects, greening, specific gravity – a measurement of the solids or starch content relative to the amount of water contained in a potato – and sugar content.

“Potatoes from the outside look very similar, and defects aren’t always detectable. That’s why we started looking at this technology and thinking about how we can apply it.” 

There’s still much research to be done on this three-year, half-a-million-dollar project. Much of the funding comes from Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR) and Alberta Innovates.

You can learn more about the project by visiting the RDAR website.

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