30 June 2000

It can pay to

do your own dirty work…

Cleaning and disinfecting grain stores before harvest is dirty

work, and paying a professional to tackle it is tempting. But

with careful planning a do-it-yourself approach can be just as

effective, according to farmers weeklys western barometer

farmer. Andrew Blake reports

GOOD storage is all about being methodical, says Richard Burt. And that applies as much to pre-harvest operations as to dealing with grain after cleaning and drying, he maintains.

The 20,000t of on-floor storage facilities at Rotherdale Farm, Throckmorton, Worcs and the three on-floor stores on nearby farms recently taken on board all lend themselves to DIY methods, he says.

"We have a very simple system. If we grew more varieties and had a lot of bins I would more than likely be employing a professional.

"However, it takes two men the best part of three weeks to clean all our stores properly and to make sure that the elevators and conveyors are working efficiently." And having a TASCC-registered store holding grain throughout the year makes it trickier than on some farms to gain access to an empty building, he says.

Hardest areas to deal with at Rotherdale are the two 100t holding bins ahead of the 30t/hr Law Denis continuous flow drier and cleaner.

"We have to put ladders down inside to gain access for hand cleaning. I wouldnt want too many more.

"We do also leave rat control to a professional, Pershore-based Premier Pest Control. We pay £400/year for regular monthly visits. We could do it ourselves but the trouble is that when staff are busy spraying, say, the monthly inspection interval soon slips to two and we could run into trouble. To be able to forget about that aspect is re-assuring."

"Cleaning out does tend to eat into the holiday windows before harvest, " says grain store manager Richard Baxter. "It usually comes just when Id prefer to be taking a week off."

However, the main single-span stores fed by central apex conveyors are constructed mainly of metal with smooth concrete floors which makes cleaning down relatively simple, he says.

Once the buildings are empty pressure washing is the first operation, using a cage on a telescopic loader to reach into the eaves. To avoid contaminating surfaces already cleaned it is important to work from the top down and from one end to the other, explains Mr Baxter.

The stores are then left to dry out before being treated with an organophosphorus insecticide. "We spray all the fabric with Actellic or Reldan at the prescribed rates through a portable sprayer, again using the telescopic to get into the roof areas," says Mr Burt.

Finally, to ensure no pests are lurking in inaccessible ducts where grain flows, Actellic (pyrimiphos-methyl) dust is mixed with a small amount of cereal and sent round the system several times before being cleaned out.

Despite regular use of Actellic no evidence of insect resistance has yet been detected on the farm.

"Our main worry is red rust grain beetle," says Mr Burt. "We cannot afford rejections and the cost of two lots of haulage. With the best will in the world there will always be some hidden away in cracks in the fabric." Correct drying and adequate cooling is the main defence, according to the Central Science Laboratory.

Rotherdale DIY methods

&#8226 Simple on-floor system.

&#8226 Pressure wash and dry out.

&#8226 Spray surfaces with insecticide.

&#8226 Circulate dust-treated grain.

ROTHERDALEDIY METHODS

&#8226 Simple on-floor system.

&#8226 Pressure wash and dry out.

&#8226 Spray surfaces with insecticide.

&#8226 Circulate dust-treated grain.

Simple but thorough grain store cleaning is the order of the day for FWs western barometer farmer Richard Burt. Here Richard Baxter sets to with a disinfectant spray.