9 June 1995

Molasses puts cash in bank

SPREADING molasses on the silage clamp with a farm-built applicator is saving a Somerset dairy farmer £2000 a year in additive costs.

Michael Churches, who milks 90 cows at Godney Farm, near Wells, switched from using an inoculant additive to molasses in 1994. He stopped feeding the molasses through a lick feeder and now spreads it over the silage crop as the grass is clamped.

Mr Churches says. "Spreading molasses on the clamp at silage time has two advantages: Because we are self-feeding, we know all the cows are getting molasses and we are also saving on additive costs. In the past we bought both additive and molasses."

Rather than buy a specialist applicator, Mr Churches built his own tractor-mounted device, which took third prize in the Farmers Brainwaves competition.

Comprising a 200-litre (45gal) drum and 2m (7ft) wide spreading boom, the applicator is fitted behind a Case IH 1494 tractor which is dedicated to clamp rolling at silage time. A contractor fills the clamp using a JCB wheeled loader.

"Because molasses is so viscous the applicators boom quickly fills up and acts as a holding tank. It then dribbles the molasses out evenly across the full width."

Target application rate through the 50mm (2in) diameter boom is 1gal/t. "It works out at about one applicator tankful per four 10t trailers," Mr Churches explains.

He estimates the cost of building the 200-litre (45gal) capacity applicator was about £50. &#42

Michael Churches hitches this molasses applicator to his silage clamp-rolling tractor. Contractors mow, chop and cart the grass.