30 June 2000

He did it his way…

BUILDING his own specialist seed store is set to save a Norfolk grower over £100,000 and produce a plant that is up to industrial specifications.

"The overall cost should come in at under £95,000," says Alan Kendall, who with father John runs Ingham Farms at Ingham near Norwich.

"That compares with over £250,000 if the job had been done professionally," he says.

Farm labour input has not been included in the calculation, he concedes. But the work is being done between other jobs on the 132ha (327 acre) unit.

The decision to up-date the grain handling facilities was made three years ago.

"As professional seed producers we felt we needed a professional set-up," he says.

But the existing 240t bin store with underfloor drying could not cope with the doubling of wheat yields since its construction in 1954, nor did the 12t/hr throughput match the current combines 22t/hour capacity.

"And the last thing we should be doing with high grade seed is putting it on the floor," he comments.

A quote of £125,000 for putting up a shell with floor, walls, and doors formed the yardstick for the DIY project. "But we felt we could do a more complete job ourselves for less."

Prior notification planning rules, limiting the footprint of the building, meant it had to be tall to accommodate 18 bins, of 40t each. An industrial designer produced drawings for a structure 36m long, 10m wide and 10.5m to the eaves.

"We used a contractor for the outside ground work and spent £26,000 having an industrial power floated floor with a glass smooth finish laid. The job of erecting the steel frame went to a friend who is a professional steel fabricator."

A quote of £29,000 for the purchase and fitting of cladding persuaded Mr Kendall to take a more hands-on approach to the construction.

"I paid £12,000 for the Plastisol coated steel cladding, £1750 for a second hand access platform and £2250 for a grit blaster and compressor.

"Whilst two of our farm staff stayed on the ground, Jack and I put on a helmet, climbing gear with safety harness and set to work. The job took 48 man hours to complete."

Inside, simple design features have been carefully thought through.

"The walls are white so we can see where they are not clean and with no windows and only artificial light birds will not be attracted in. There are no nooks or crannies so rodents are discouraged too, but an ultra-sonic rodent protection system will be fitted, just in case."

The bins, which have been salvaged from the old store and other farms, will be mounted on legs and fitted with hopper bottoms.

A perforated steel suction manifold at the base of each will connect to a 160mm (6.3in) main suction pipe and 20,000cfm centrifugal fan.

"We will be sucking not blowing and all conveyors and elevators will be fitted with suction hoods."

A 15-year-old batch drier and a salvaged Simplex 25t cooling bin will be installed in a separate compartment in the store to minimise dust movement.

Cash raised from the sale of a cottage and redundant buildings should cover the whole cost of the project, and the 720t store will be on-line for harvest 2001.

INGHAM FARMS SEED STORE

&#8226 Designed to industrial standard.

* Flat floor eases cleaning.

* Equipped with second hand kit.

* 720t in 18x40t bins

COST COMPARISON

Commercial estimate: £250,000 estimate

DIY costs to Date

Design drawings £3,600

Ground work/floor £26,000

Steel frame/cladding £22,000

10 Salvaged bins £1,000

* excludes labour

Yield progress

When the original grain store and batch drier was installed at Ingham Farms in 1954, Bersee wheat was yielding about 5t/ha (2t/acre). Last year wheat yields averaged more than twice that, with the best hitting 12.32t/ha (4.93t/acre).

Before and after…cladding on the specialist seed store at Ingham Farms was put up by grower Alan Kendall and farm staff, cutting construction costs considerably. Inside, everything is above ground for ease of cleaning and bins are being reconstructed with hopper bottoms.

Cost comparison


Commercial estimate: £250,000

DIY costs to Date:

Design drawings £3,600

Ground work/floor £26,000

Steel frame/cladding £22,000

10 Salvaged bins £1,000

* excludes labour

INGHAM FARMS SEED STORE

&#8226 Designed to industrial standard.

&#8226 Flat floor eases cleaning.

&#8226 Equipped with second hand kit.

&#8226 720t in 18x40t bins.