Carrot Foliage Trimmer

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists in Charlottetown, PEI, have developed a mechanical device to trim a portion of the canopy of carrot tops in-between the growing rows. The carrot foliage trimmer helps control Sclerotinia rot and provides a simple way to reduce chemical pesticide use in carrot production, and increase the efficiency of disease control and the quality of products. The project is one of many funded through the Pesticide Risk Reduction Program of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Pest Management Centre.

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Video Transcript

[Carrot harvest tractor with carrot trimmer drives through a field of carrots. It trims the tops of the carrot foliage. Voice over narration]

Male narrator: Carrots are a high-value crop in eastern Canada. It is a crop than can suffer losses due to disease.

Now thanks to a device developed by Agriculture and Agri -Food Canada researchers called a carrot trimmer those losses are much smaller.

[Kevin Sanderson, research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada stands in front of a stationary tractor and a field of carrots]

Kevin Sanderson: A carrot foliage trimmer is a mechanical device that we developed and designed here in Charlottetown at the research centre here in Prince Edward Island.

[Medium image of trimmer blades cutting foliage. Image of tractor being driven by farmer.]

And basically what it does it has a series of blades on it and it runs down the carrot row and it cuts foliage off between the carrot rows to open up that canopy to help control the disease, a specific disease.

[Close up image of trimmer blades cutting foliage.]

Ah, so it has circular blades on it with blades similar to a Skil saw blade only a little bit larger and as the unit goes down the row there’s little fingers that picks the foliage up and as it picks up the foliage the blade circles around and actually chops the foliage off and the foliage drops right between the rows.

[Head and shoulders shot of Kevin Sanderson talking. Cut to Rick Peters, Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, standing in front of tractor]

Rick Peters: Sclerotinia rot is a disease of carrots and many other crops, but it is caused by a fungus known as Sclerotinia sclerotiorum.

[Close up photos of sclerotinia rot on picked carrots. Cut to close up photos of rot on growing carrots.]

And it is quite a devastating disease… just considering carrots it can contribute to sometimes close to a million dollars in losses here on the Island alone and nationally it would be a multi- million dollar impact on the industry.

[Cut back to Rick Peters, talking. Cut to farmer driving tractor]

Trimming, you open the rows up allowing air and sunlight penetration into the canopy which then dries the soil, dries the foliage and the conditions that are good for the fungus are no longer there.

[Cut back to Kevin Sanderson, talking.]

Kevin Sanderson: It is pretty inexpensive to build the unit. We’ve designed different units now that are pretty inexpensive to build, farmers can build the units for probably you know, three, four thousand dollars.

[Cut back to close up of Rick Peters, talking.]

Rick Peters: All you’re doing is trimming to create a different environment and it really impacted the fungus and disease levels…

[Image of healthy row of carrot foliage. Image of Rick Peters looking through microscope. Close up of petrie dish. Cut back to close up of Rick Peters, talking.]

… and that was quite amazing to see and then because it was so successful it was also amazing for me to see how quickly it moved from research to tech transfer and then to be adopted around the world.

[Cut back to Kevin Sanderson, talking.]

Kevin Sanderson: I guess the Eureka moment for me was, ah, when we put the carrots in storage and when we actually did our counts of the disease versus disease carrots in the untrimmed section and diseased carrots in the trimmed section and it was quite obvious that we had a hundred per cent control, so that was for me that was the true test.

[Close up of a healthy bunch of carrots lying on the dirt.]

[Mike MacKinnon, carrot producer, Brookfield Gardens, standing in front of carrot field.]

Mike MacKinnon: It’s amazing what a little…. Sometimes what little stuff will make the big difference right…

[Mike MacKinnon in carrot field, pulls a big bunch of carrots from the soil and holds them up.]

and it helps….found a big difference since that thing was developed.

[Cut back to Mike MacKinnon,talking.]

A real big difference in the quality of the storage yep, definitely.

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