On our veggie farm, we use a cold water pressure washer to clean out our plastic harvest bins every week. Nobody really likes the job, and it takes a long time. We have played around with different systems for cleaning them, but none seems ideally efficient.
Roxbury Farm bought a conveyor-belt, self contained bin washer last year. They said it cost them a lot of money, but has some serious "quality of life" benefits: put a dirty bin on the belt, listen to the pressure washer do it's job inside, pick up clean bin from other end.
I think there's an opportunity for a farm-built bin washer that would be reasonably priced and could be customized for different size bins. Here are some requirements and ideas about how this might work:
- able to wash the inside and outside of bins;
- capable of handling different size bins;
- is efficient for one person or two people to operate, so that the operation doesn't involve standing around wasting time;
- would use a standard pressure washer to power the nozzles, so that farms could use an existing pressure washer or shop around for a good deal for the pum that makes it work.
- breweries/wineries use special pressure nozzles to clean the inside of tanks; they send a stream of high pressure water in at 360 or 180 degree pattern. These could be repurposed to wash the inside of a bin from all angles without the nozzle needing to move;
- on our farm, bins are usually dirtier on one side than the other. So maybe it's only necessary to have one high pressure nozzle in the washer, and the rest lower pressure nozzles. If bins could be fed in either open-side-up or open-side-down, the operator could choose which side is dirtier and orient it toward the high-pressure nozzle.
Anyone have a good bin-washing system on their farm? Have you used a "real" bin washing setup like Roxbury's? Any ideas for developing this project?
I'll try to post some photos of the Roxbury set up.
Hearty Roots Community Farm