A new wool sheet compactor could eventually cut the British Wool Marketing Board’s £1.6m transport bill by about 30%.

The £14,000 machine, designed by Hampshire farmer Ferris Whidbourne, compacts up to nine of the BWMB’s new shape wool sheets into a single bale weighing 0.5t.

By reducing volume by two-thirds, without damaging fibres, it is possible to carry more sheets on lorries travelling from local collection points to grading centres.

“The packages stack and handle more easily and allow weights of about 12t to be transported on a lorry, at least double the load possible with individual wool sheets,” said Frank Langrish, BWMB chairman.

The cost saving would be reflected in wool price received by producers.

“We know producers are unhappy about returns, but we have to invest some of our income in improving wool handling efficiency and controlling transport costs.”

The BWMB stand also featured a new on-farm packing machine which can compact the equivalent fleeces needed to fill three wool sheets in a single bale.

Mr Langrish said the packer would be particularly useful for cutting transport costs in outlying areas like the Highlands and Islands.