Source: ABC – NSW Country Hour – Melissa Hamling

“Anything can affect spinach. One day you can look at it and program that we will be harvesting a certain amount the following week, and in the meantime all you need is a little spot on the leaf, be it heavy rain or disease or whatever, and people won’t want it. “It’s got to look like a nice bright green lawn with nothing coming through it because the consumer wants their bag of spinach to look perfect every time. They don’t want to open it up, tip it into a bowl and out pops a weed or a yellow leaf,” he said. After the spinach is harvested it is sent to the processors to be triple washed, but before that Mr Fagan said he’d done all he could to ensure the spinach leaving his farm is perfect.

“We can’t have animals roaming across here, we can’t use manure on this crop. Everything has to be spot on because we can’t have a food safety scare come from here.” To help with quality control at harvest time, Mr Fagan is now working on an optical sorter to attach to the harvester that will knock out anything that’s below par colour-wise. “It’s got numerous optics on it that sense the colour of whatever goes past so we’ve programmed it to let bright green go through and take out brown, yellow or anything else. “At the moment we are trialling it so we don’t ever have any problems with foreign bodies like sticks or Poplar leaves. There’s more and more pressure on us now to make sure no one gets a leaf in their salad bowl.”