New onion storage: quality always wins
The new onion storage with condensation drying installation from Smits Akkerbouw in Nagele, which was built last year, immediately proved its worth in this year with high energy costs. "In the end, quality always wins," says Jac Smits when it comes to the storage efficiency of the new box storage, which is equipped with a climate computer with an energy management module.
Smits Akkerbouw is a family business consisting of three cousins who are active at various locations in the Noordoostpolder in the cultivation of, among other things, seed and consumption potatoes and yellow and red seed onions and carrots. The storage and processing activities of the various crops are divided over the three business locations. Now all onions and part of the potatoes are stored at the location in Nagele. This is more efficient in terms of logistics and ultimately benefits the quality. There has also been a desire for some time to switch to box storage and to store as few onions as possible in bulk. Box storage ensures a nicer color of the product and it provides flexibility in terms of delivery options. In addition, there were plans to do more with the generation of sustainable energy and to use this in a smart way in storage. To this end, a new storage facility will be built in 2022 for box storage with a total capacity of 4,000 tons of product.
Make plans with custodian advisor
"I already had a Vision Control storage computer from Tolsma-Grisnich in the existing storage facility, which is why I invited storage consultant Paul den Engelsen together with the construction company to discuss the plans for the new building," says Smits. "In any case, I also wanted to talk about condensation drying." The reason for consciously opting for condenser drying was that it benefits the quality of the product because storage can be carried out at a lower temperature without temperature fluctuations. In addition, the relative humidity can be kept at around 80% independently of the outside air by means of condensation drying. This keeps a nice color on the onions.
Although the initial idea was to purchase one new central fixed cooling installation that would also replace the existing cooling, it was ultimately decided to gear the design of the storage to the use of plug & play condenser drying units. The fact that these units are also equipped with the natural refrigerant propane fitted well with the desire to realize a sustainable storage facility. An additional advantage is that they fall under the Energy investment deduction scheme. Ultimately, four cells were included in the design, of which two cells are fitted with a suction wall and two cells of 1,000 tons each are equipped with the condensation drying units. The storage cells are located to the left and right of a spacious covered storage/processing area.