What is Quality Enhancement?
Shape, colour, uniformity, size, taste, shelf-life all impact on marketable yield and value of crops, particularly fruit and vegetables. Quality enhancement is the improvement of these important qualitative values, so that crops look better, taste better, last longer and have a better marketable yield. Quality enhancement reduces waste both on farm (less rejected crop) and in the home (less wasted food).
Environmental Stresses Reduce Quality and Increase Incidence of Physiological Disorders
Understanding and manipulating a plants physiology can help improve crop quality.
Many crops do not make the grade because of physiological disorders, addressing these improves marketable yield and reduces waste
Using Plant Science to Improve Quality
Farmers are increasingly under pressure to meet consumer demand for perfect looking food, and much of the fruit and vegetables produced never make it off farm due to being the wrong size or shape, or having a physiological disorder. Post harvest a high proportion of fruit and vegetables sold is thrown away as it rots before it gets eaten. Finding ways to deliver the best grade food, with as little waste as possible both on farm, in the supply chain and by the consumer is a good way of improving sustainability and food security.
At Levity we are using our scientists understanding of plant science and agronomy, to develop products farmers can use to improve the quality of their crops. Our research is helping improve size, uniformity, colour and flavour in crops. It is preventing physiological disorders like Bitter pit (apples) and cavity spot (carrots), making strawberries firmer, cherries redder, lettuces last longer, preventing bruising in potatoes and much more. Our products are increasing yield, and reducing waste for growers around the world.
Fruit & Veg Crops are Rejected on Farm due to Quality
Fruit and Veg Bought is Wasted in the Home
World's Land Surface is Used to Grow Food Never Eaten
What We Do
Levity use a unique combination of crop science and agronomy to find better ways to grow crops. Our scientists are researching how plant physiology can improve agricultural inputs to develop products that help farmers produce better yields.
Levity have world class research facilities split between two sites at Myerscough Agricultural College and Lancaster University. Our team of scientists enjoy unrivalled access to formulation and development labs, testing labs, controlled environment growth rooms, experimental glasshouses, field test sites and a huge array of analytical equipment.
Lab to Land
What sets Levity apart is how we approach product development. We bridge academia and industry, taking the very latest in academic research and finding ways to put it to practical use to solve problems for farmers. Our products start on a farm where our expert agronomists take time to understand the challenges faced by growers, we then go back to the lab and apply crop science in research programmes. The products that emerge are tested around the world in rigorous independent trial programmes before we are finally ready to go back to the farm with a new product.
Stress from poor growing conditions is the single largest driver in food quality. Stress increases physiological disorders, and reduce shelf life by depleting calcium from cell walls. It reduces colour as antioxidants are used up fighting stress toxins. It decreases uniformity as more fruit and tubers are aborted by growing plants. Levity’s science team study the effects of different kinds of stress on crops, and find ways to help crops cope better. Whatever the stress, be it salinity, temperature, drought, or frost Levity’s approach of using crop science to drive research and development can help bring farmers new and better products to improve crop quality.
Size & Uniformity
The size and uniformity of crops has an impact on price and saleability, every year millions of tonnes of undersize fruit goes unsold. Levity’s research team are developing ways to improve the average size of crops like potatoes and carrots by directing the crops energy to the harvested parts of the crop. Our approach also improves uniformity, getting the highest possible fraction of yield into the best grade.
Physiolgical disorders in fruit and vegetable crops are a major cause of crop losses. Farmers apply calcium to to crops to prevent them, but results can be erratic. Levity’s research into how plants absorb calcium is helping them to develop more effective products that work at much lower rates. Our research into better prevention of physiological disorders is helping reduce losses of apples (bitter pit), tomatoes (blossom end rot), potatoes (internal browning), celery (black heart), carrots (cavity spot) and lettuce (tip burn).
Shelf Life & Quality Parameters
Many crops have key quality parameters that make the difference between sale and landfill. Levity take the time to understand farmers needs and then use their crop knowledge to fix these key issues. Stem weight in cut roses, sugar levels in soft fruit, colour in processing tomatoes, uniformity in table grapes are all issues Levity’s research is helping to solve. Shelf life improvement is fundamental to food security in a world where 60% of fruit and veg is discarded due to spoiling before it gets eaten. Levity has a large scale research programme on shelf life improvement and our products are helping produce longer lasting fruit and veg.
The Apple Results… LoCal™ Technology*
Lowered Calcium Application Rate
Improved Bitter Pit Control
Resulted in Marketable Yield Increase
* Data from American Field Trials 2013
Quality in crops is a neglected issue, but it is of vital importance. If everyone in the USA ate the FDA recommended amount of fruit and veg there would not be enough in the world to supply the USA. That just goes to show how much need there is globally to increase fruit and vegetable production. Currently we throw away either in the field or the home ore than half of all the world production. By focussing on getting quality up we also increase yield and availability, and give hard working farmers a better return at the same time.
There are far too many arbitrary quality parameters facing farmers, that keep food from reaching the market. By helping farmers to make the quality criteria given them by the supply chain we make a real difference both in terms of sustainability (less waste in the system) and farm income.