UKgrain at Newark last week drew large numbers of farmers looking for ways to improve their grain-drying capacity for 2009.

The Turbodan trailer drier, which used to be marketed as the Farrell Trayler Drier, but is now made in Denmark and sold by Tey Farm Systems, Colchester, comes in 15t, 18t and 25t versions and dries and stirs drain in situ.

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A 700kW (1000kW in the 25t model) diesel-powered burner provides the heat, which is piped through a perforated drying floor at the bottom of the trailer. Meanwhile, a 12kW (20kW on the 25t version) pto-powered generator powers three grain stirrers (four on the 25t model) that move diagonally across the grain.

Each model will dry a full load of wheat by 4-5% in about an hour, with cooling taking a further 20-30 minutes. That means the 25t version will dry about 300t in 24 hours. Cost is £49,000 for the 15t unit, £55,000 for the 18t and £72,000 for the 25t.

The latest version of Bourne, Lincolnshire firm Martin Lishman‘s £189 fan controller uses the difference between the ambient air temperature and the grain temperature (measured by a 2m rigid sensor) to switch fans on and off. If the crop temperature is more than a set number of degrees above the air temperature, the fan (or fans) are switched on. Because they come on only when there is scope for the air to cool the grain, energy use can be cut considerably. It works for both single and three-phase fans.

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Danish firm Agrocom was at the event with its novel Agrophone mobile phone-based weed, pest and disease identification tool. More than 400 images are stored on the phone, including weeds at different growth stages. The system was launched in Denmark in April and an English-language version can be downloaded from Agrocom’s website, www.agrophone.com. Cost is £49 a year and you can download a demo version to see how it works.

This year has seen a big surge in sales of grain stirrers as farmers tried to find ways of speeding up the slow process of drying damp grain. Bridgnorth, Shropshire firm Danagri says it has sold more than 100 pedestrian-controlled grain stirrers this year compared with 60 in a normal year. As well as its £1600 80cm, £1800 120cm and £2400 180cm auger-length units, it now offers a £2800 250cm version.

BDC from Andover, Hampshire, says it sold 200 of its Grain Butler self-propelled stirrer units between August and October compared with the 15 or so it normally sells in a whole year. These come in 2m, 4m and 4m lengths and the unit travels at a speed of 1m/minute across the grainstore. All units come with the same 2.2kW motor and cost £3145. Extra augers cost £150 each and all can be run from the same motor as the flights on the longer ones are narrower.

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With limits on DON mycotoxins in grain getting tougher, more and more farmers are having to get grain tested before they sell it. One way is to send samples to a merchant or specialist laboratory, but Agricultural Supply Services from Uley, Gloucestershire, was showing the Farmer Don test kit that allows farmers to use a similar system to test their own. The basic unit costs £395, gives a pass/fail reading at the 500ppb threshold and includes 10 test strips. Each test takes about 10 minutes.

This year’s harvesting conditions have also prompted a surge in interest in grain air-conditioning units. The Granfrigor system from Germany uses a portable refrigeration unit to cool the grain to a point where the danger of heating up (and insect activity) stops. Since air-conditioners also have a drying effect, it will also dry grain from 16% moisture down to 14.5%. The portable, electrically-powered units range in price from 18,000 euros for one suitable for a 300-1500t store to 28,000 euros for one that would suit a 3000t grainstore.