Students Support Farmers in Food Safety

Kansas State University’s Technology Development Institute has designed and constructed a water disinfection demonstration trailer to showcase water treatment technology options to farmers and promote food safety.

The project resulted from a collaboration with Londa Nwadike, state extension food safety specialist for Kansas and Missouri. Nwadike has a joint appointment with Kansas State University and the University of Missouri as an extension associate professor of food safety.

Food safety continues to be an important issue for fruit and vegetable producers across the region. Knowing the various technologies available to treat water used with produce is a critical first step in promoting food safety.

Nwadike obtained a Missouri Specialty Crop Block Grant from the Missouri Department of Agriculture to fund the creation of the demonstration device, with the goal of helping farmers understand their options so they can select the technology that best fits their situation. Manreet Bhullar, K-State food scientist, provided input on selecting four effective water treatment systems to be used for demonstration on the trailer.

Once the technologies were selected, Bhullar contacted the Technology Development Institute, or TDI, in K-State’s Carl R. Ice College of Engineering to assist with the engineering and fabrication of the device. TDI generated a schematic of the device and its proposed flow path. Once approved, TDI fabricated the device in the newly equipped shop facility.

“TDI has been an excellent resource to help us with not only this demonstration device, but also our other proposals through the Food Science Institute and the Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources,” said Bhullar. “Incorporating their engineering expertise into our grant applications has made the grants more competitive and has allowed us to tap into new streams of funding to continue expanding our research.”

The demonstration trailer is currently being housed at the Olathe Horticulture Research and Extension Center; however, Missouri and K-State extension personnel plan to showcase the system across the region this summer and fall to continue to promote food safety across the region.

This project was completed in support of the K-State 105 initiative with the assistance of the K-State Technology Development Institute, a U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration University Center, providing a broad range of engineering and business development services to both private industry and university researchers to advance the commercial readiness of new products or technologies.