Weald Granary has secured a grant worth 40% of its £1.9m expansion programme.

This follows recent planning approval at the Mereworth, Kent, site for development of a range of high-speed intake and loading-out facilities and a further 6250t storage silo, taking total capacity to 64,500t.

The grant was awarded by the South East England Development Agency under the Rural Development Programme for England.

Weald Granary chairman Andrew Brice said the development, which will be ready for next harvest, largely aims to improve operational efficiency at the co-operative, which has 180 farmer members.

“It will be of major benefit to our members, providing additional storage facilities, improving turn-round times at the weighbridge and speeding up intake and outtake,” he says.

Construction is planned to start in January. The additional storage is expected to be booked before then.

Mr Brice reckons demand has been driven by members’ experiences this harvest, which saw the most loads hauled off-farm and into store soon after combining.

They were safely dried down, with quality kept intact, in contrast to many on-farm units, he says. “It is this that is driving interest from growers in the south east, and I wouldn’t rule out further expansion before 2010.”