21 November 1997

Mobile dressing heaps on gains

MOBILE grain cleaning is proving an invaluable aid to growers keen to boost the value of poor quality grain.

While many mobile operators offer a service, Re-So Seeds of Stafford has pleased numerous growers with its high capacity machine.

Richard Hatherell, who farms 220ha (540 acres) of cereals at Hazlecote Farm, Kingscote, near Tetbury, Glos, is a typical beneficiary. He harvested nearly 400t of Hereward milling wheat this year with 74-76kg/hl bushel weight which would have been accepted with a £1 a point deduction, but high screenings.

"Several merchants tested it. Results showed levels varied from 6-10%," says Mr Hatherell. The buyer would have taken the crop up to 3% without deductions, then at £1 a point to 6%. "But they wouldnt take it above that."

Rather than risk a hefty price cut, Mr Hatherell called in Re-So Seeds. Its four-screen mobile cleaner worked at 25t an hour to clean the whole heap in two days.

Bushel weight rose to 76kg/hl and screenings dropped to 4-5%. About 15t of screenings and admixture was removed.

Cost effective

Re-Sos costs came to just under £1000. Mr Hatherell reckons he spent a further £250 on farm labour and machinery. Assuming he sells the cleaned crop for a £30/t premium (half has already been sold at that level), even after writing off the 15t lost during the process and allowing a £2/t deduction for screenings, he stands to gain about £8000.

Malting barley grower Justin Scott, director of Harnage Estates, near Newport, Shropshire, also used the Re-So dresser to reduce screenings. "We recently cleaned 200t of Halcyon. Screenings ranged from 12-27%, and I hope we have got that down to 6% or less."

Samples taken during dressing suggest that is the case. A further 320t of Pipkin and Halcyon underwent the same treatment last week. Allowing for dressing costs, and a 10% loss in weight, Mr Scott reckons he will still gain about £18/t. "Removing 10-15% screenings can also bring the nitrogen level down by about 0.5%. That is useful on borderline samples."

Although biggest gains come from upgrading quality crops, dressing feed wheat can also pay. Worcs grower Paul Hinwood grew 400t of Riband wheat at Pool Farm, Cleobury Mortimer. It had been sold forward on a contract stipulating 72kg/hl, but tested four points lower at 68kg/hl, risking deductions of £6/t.

All the wheat was dressed using Re-Sos machine. Specific weight climbed to 72kg/hl. "We have since sold it all with no problems."

Mr Hinwood reckons he made just over £1/t after taking all costs into account. "There was quite a lot of work involved. But it paid for itself by making the grain saleable."

Re-So director Frank Littlehales reckons this could be the busiest season yet in the nine years he has had the machine. It is the only one of its type in the country, and demand is high.

"Weve done about 15,000t of barley, about 5000t of low bushel weight wheat and a few hundred tonnes of oilseed rape."

Cost is £54 an hour, with some travelling time included. Throughput ranges from about 15t an hour on high screening barley up to 40t an hour on cereal-infested oilseed rape.n

Well dressed: High-screenings malting barley gets the Re-So treatment at Harnage Estates in Shropshire. The bolder sample should give a boost of £18/t.

GRAIN GAIN

&#8226 High capacity mobile dresser.

&#8226 Reduces screenings.

&#8226 Improves specific weight.

&#8226 Quality crops pay best.

&#8226 Lightweight feed wheats also profitable.

&#8226 Cost – £54/hour.

&#8226 Throughput – 15-40t/hour.