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Spudmobile in the works for Wisconsin potato and vegetable growers

The much-anticipated traveling billboard for Wisconsin’s potato and vegetable industry, also known as the Spudmobile, is now well on its way to completion as the growers announce their partnership with two Wisconsin-based companies to finish the interior and exterior elements of the project.

CGS Premier in New Berlin and Cineviz in Green Bay both have extensive experience taking everyday vehicles and turning them into unique promotional tools that are fun and educational for those who go through them.

CGS Premier will design, re-model, fabricate and be responsible for the execution of many creative design elements. Cineviz will create the digital technology, the educational elements and much of the interior design.

“The Spudmobile will have something for everyone,” WPVGA Executive Director Duane Maatz said in a press release. “There will be interactive games for children, cooking tips and recipes for families. We are very confident we have chosen the right companies to accomplish our goals.”

The announcement to work with CGS Premier and Cineviz comes about one month after the WPVGA purchased a 2012 Holiday Rambler Ambassador specifically for the development of the Spudmobile.

After several discussions with the potato and vegetable industry, the two companies say they’re privileged to work with a group so committed to the education of our youth and consumers.

“We couldn’t be more excited to work with the Wisconsin potato and vegetable growers on this exciting project,” CGS Premier Director of Business Development Trey Patterson said in a press release. “While we have been building vehicles and displays for the past 20 years, this project is especially exciting for our team as it is helping a Wisconsin association raise awareness about the benefits of buying locally grown potatoes.”

“The opportunity to bring to life the dream of the WPVGA is a real honor,” said Scott Koffarnus, Cineviz chief executive officer and creative director. “We look forward to developing an immersive mobile experience for all ages to enjoy and learn about potato agriculture in Wisconsin.”

Ultimately, Maatz said this is a forward-thinking set of objectives, looking into the future: “This Special Project is brought to you by farmers who care about their consumers as well as providing for future generations. They’re farmers who plan to continue to produce a safe, wholesome and affordable food supply for families across the country,”

Updates for the Wisconsin Spudmobile will be posted on its Facebook page and new website.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Refrigeration Roundtable: Commissioning ‘TLC’ works wonders

Just like their HVAC counter-“parts,” supermarket refrigeration systems need commissioning and recommissioning to maintain peak performance and make the most of today’s energy-efficient refrigeration systems.

Commissioning for maximum performance was one of the topics for discussion during the 2013 ContractingBusiness.com Refrigeration Roundtable, held during Comfortech 2013 in Philadelphia. Contractor and supermarket manager panelists were asked to share their opinions on store commissioning, how often they commission, and some word about results. Paul Burd, manager of refrigeration and store service for Sunbury, Pa.-based Weis Markets, said commissioning and recommissioning is a regular event at Weis stores.

Brad Morris, Giant Eagle; Paul Burd, Weis Markets; Steve Hagen, Sprouts Farmers Market; Harrison Horning, Hannaford Bros.“We commission new stores within two weeks of opening. We see a payback in about a year and a half, so it’s a good payback,” Burd said. “The key to commissioning is keeping it in that condition. We lock the controllers once we have the stores set up where we want them to be. It sometimes upsets the technicians, because it’s easy for them to go in and raise or lower a set point by 2 pounds. But that’s energy. The key is to keep the system in that condition and not let things get changed.”

Burd also commissions outside air dampers.

Read more: Weis makes strategic moves into sustainability

“When we do an air balancing, we make sure we mark the dampers’ position during commissioning, because a technician, when he’s out there in the middle of the night and feels the store is warm or humid, blames it on outside air. So he cranks the outside air dampers and walks away from it. Yes, the building cools back down, but we make sure we have that mark to go back to, and keep things fine-tuned. We’ll probably go back every three to five years to perform recommissioning on a store.”

Burd shared that Weis Markets brings in a third-party individual to monitor utility bills.

“We meter everything in our stores: compressors, condensers, circuit loads, HVAC, everything,” he said. “He drills down on an individual store, and when he notices excessive energy usage, goes into the system to see if things are in override or not running, whatever it may be.”

Supermarket News

Why crop rotation works: Change in crop species causes shift in soil microbes

July 18, 2013 — Crop rotation has been used since Roman times to improve plant nutrition and to control the spread of disease. A new study to be published in Nature’s The ISME Journal reveals the profound effect it has on enriching soil with bacteria, fungi and protozoa.

“Changing the crop species massively changes the content of microbes in the soil, which in turn helps the plant to acquire nutrients, regulate growth and protect itself against pests and diseases, boosting yield,” said Professor Philip Poole from the John Innes Centre.

Soil was collected from a field near Norwich and planted with wheat, oats and peas. After growing wheat, it remained largely unchanged and the microbes in it were mostly bacteria. However, growing oat and pea in the same sample caused a huge shift towards protozoa and nematode worms. Soil grown with peas was highly enriched for fungi.

“The soil around the roots was similar before and after growing wheat, but peas and oats re-set of the diversity of microbes,” said Professor Poole.

All organisms on our planet can be divided between prokaryotes (which include bacteria) and eukaryotes (which include humans, plants and animals as well as fungi). After only four weeks of growth, the soil surrounding wheat contained about 3% eukaryotes. This went up to 12-15% for oat and pea. The change of balance is likely to be even more marked in the field where crops are grown for months rather than weeks.

Analysis has previously relied on amplifying DNA samples. This limits scientists to analysing one taxonomic group at a time such as bacteria. It also means that everything present in that group is analysed rather than what is playing an active role. Every gram of soil contains over 50,000 species of bacteria so the task is enormous.

There are relatively fewer actively expressed genes, or RNA. It is now possible to sequence RNA across kingdoms so a full snapshot can be taken of the active bacteria, fungi, protozoa and other microbes in the soil. The research was carried out in collaboration with the University of East Anglia and The Genome Analysis Centre on Norwich Research Park.

“By sequencing RNA, we can look at the big picture of active microbes in the soil,” said PhD student Tom Turner from the John Innes Centre.

“This also allows us to work out what they are doing there, including how they might be helping the plants out.”

“Our work helps explain the experience of farmers in the field,” said Professor Poole.

“The best seed needs to be combined with the best agronomic practices to get the full potential benefits.”

“While continued planting of one species in monoculture pulls the soil in one direction, rotating to a different one benefits soil health.”

Seeds can be inoculated with bacteria before planting out, just like humans taking a dose of friendly bacteria. But this does not achieve the diversity or quantity of microbes found in this study.

The scientists also grew an oat variety unable to produce normal levels of avenacin, a compound that protects roots from fungal pathogens. They expected the soil to contain higher levels of fungi as a result, but instead found it contained a greater diversity of other eukaryotes such as protozoa.

The findings of the study could be used to develop plant varieties that encourage beneficial microbes in the soil. John Innes Centre scientists are already investigating the possibility of engineering cereal crops able to associate with the nitrogen-fixing bacteria normally associated with peas.

“Small changes in plant genotype can have complex and unexpected effects on soil microbes surrounding the roots,” said Professor Poole.

“Scientists, breeders and farmers can make the most of these effects not only with what they grow but how they grow it.”

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Why crop rotation works: Change in crop species causes shift in soil microbes

July 18, 2013 — Crop rotation has been used since Roman times to improve plant nutrition and to control the spread of disease. A new study to be published in Nature’s The ISME Journal reveals the profound effect it has on enriching soil with bacteria, fungi and protozoa.

“Changing the crop species massively changes the content of microbes in the soil, which in turn helps the plant to acquire nutrients, regulate growth and protect itself against pests and diseases, boosting yield,” said Professor Philip Poole from the John Innes Centre.

Soil was collected from a field near Norwich and planted with wheat, oats and peas. After growing wheat, it remained largely unchanged and the microbes in it were mostly bacteria. However, growing oat and pea in the same sample caused a huge shift towards protozoa and nematode worms. Soil grown with peas was highly enriched for fungi.

“The soil around the roots was similar before and after growing wheat, but peas and oats re-set of the diversity of microbes,” said Professor Poole.

All organisms on our planet can be divided between prokaryotes (which include bacteria) and eukaryotes (which include humans, plants and animals as well as fungi). After only four weeks of growth, the soil surrounding wheat contained about 3% eukaryotes. This went up to 12-15% for oat and pea. The change of balance is likely to be even more marked in the field where crops are grown for months rather than weeks.

Analysis has previously relied on amplifying DNA samples. This limits scientists to analysing one taxonomic group at a time such as bacteria. It also means that everything present in that group is analysed rather than what is playing an active role. Every gram of soil contains over 50,000 species of bacteria so the task is enormous.

There are relatively fewer actively expressed genes, or RNA. It is now possible to sequence RNA across kingdoms so a full snapshot can be taken of the active bacteria, fungi, protozoa and other microbes in the soil. The research was carried out in collaboration with the University of East Anglia and The Genome Analysis Centre on Norwich Research Park.

“By sequencing RNA, we can look at the big picture of active microbes in the soil,” said PhD student Tom Turner from the John Innes Centre.

“This also allows us to work out what they are doing there, including how they might be helping the plants out.”

“Our work helps explain the experience of farmers in the field,” said Professor Poole.

“The best seed needs to be combined with the best agronomic practices to get the full potential benefits.”

“While continued planting of one species in monoculture pulls the soil in one direction, rotating to a different one benefits soil health.”

Seeds can be inoculated with bacteria before planting out, just like humans taking a dose of friendly bacteria. But this does not achieve the diversity or quantity of microbes found in this study.

The scientists also grew an oat variety unable to produce normal levels of avenacin, a compound that protects roots from fungal pathogens. They expected the soil to contain higher levels of fungi as a result, but instead found it contained a greater diversity of other eukaryotes such as protozoa.

The findings of the study could be used to develop plant varieties that encourage beneficial microbes in the soil. John Innes Centre scientists are already investigating the possibility of engineering cereal crops able to associate with the nitrogen-fixing bacteria normally associated with peas.

“Small changes in plant genotype can have complex and unexpected effects on soil microbes surrounding the roots,” said Professor Poole.

“Scientists, breeders and farmers can make the most of these effects not only with what they grow but how they grow it.”

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News