Agsort founder and veteran potato farmer Greg Jones, of St. Augustine, at one time laid claim to being the largest, daily-volume, chip potato shipper in North America, harvesting, washing, sorting, and loading as many as 4,600,000 pounds of potatoes per day, enough to fill 92 tractor-trailer loads.
These days he’s shipping out high-tech farming equipment, principally his potato sorting invention called the E-sorter, which he debuted at the 2012 Potato Expo in Orlando earlier this month (yes, farmers have expos, too!)
Jones created the E-Sorter, he told the trade magazine, The Packer, because he wanted to give growers a better option at a better price, noting that there many of the current high-tech sorting and grading machines are designed with the process in mind, but not the grower.
“If the growers can’t afford to buy the machine, it’s no good to anyone,” he told the Packer.
“I started working on this idea while I was still farming,” Jones said at his booth on the Potato Expo trade show floor. “I worked on it for three years then and another five after I got out of growing.”
According to the Agsorter website, “The core of the system is the scanner module. The sealed enclosure of this is approximately the size of a short file drawer and installs/uninstalls in the same way. Inside there is a clear plastic tube, fastened in a vertical position to the top and bottom of the enclosure, with matching holes to allowing the product to pass through, falling straight down from top to bottom. This is where the scanning takes place.”
The machine uses nearly 1,500 infra-red, red, green, and blue LEDs which flash on and off independently 100,000 times per second, enabling it to sort 8-9 potatoes per second per lane – about a large truckload every 30 minutes.
You can see the E-sorter in action in the rather mesmerizing video below.