14 November 1997

New store is state-of-the-art

A NEW grain store, commissioned in time for the 1994 harvest, transformed crop handling, cleaning and drying at Timothy Everetts Ashley Farm near Kings Sombourne, Hants.

It provides storage and drying capacity for 200ha (500 acres) of arable crops, supplementing additional capacity at nearby co-operative Hampshire Grain.

With the intake pit and cleaning plant housed separately to keep dust and debris to a minimum, roller shutter doors to deter rodents and birds, and a de-humidifier and fan housed internally to minimise exterior noise, its a design that meets modern standards.

But the feature that most pleases Mr Everett is the conveyor system. Almost on its own it produces an even, uncompacted, level fill of grain.

"Its a marvellous idea that eliminates a lot of the labour and hassle involved in properly filling a bulk store," he says. "It means I can get through harvest with just the two of us and no casual labour, yet still use the buildings storage and drying capacity to the full."

The steel frame, steel clad store, designed and installed by Alton-based Alison & Garwood, provides 800t of on-floor drying and storage capacity in two bays either side of a central timber air duct.

The filling system comprises a full-length feed conveyor down the centre of the store and a filling conveyor that covers the full width of the building just above the top of the air tunnel. Mounted on rails, it can be moved by hand from one end of the store to the other.

Manufacturer Nigel Perry of Perry of Oakley, Dunkeswell, Devon, describes the Levelling Conveyor as simply a chain and flight conveyor with an open bottom above the storage floor.

"It discharges from the end nearest the air tunnel first, before progressively filling across the store once the grain reaches the underside of the conveyor," he explains. "Once that portion of the store is full, the conveyor is moved forward by hand so that the process can continue."

A 2.4m (8ft) wide inlet hopper means the conveyor always has access to one of the feed conveyor outlets which are spaced 1.8m (6ft) apart.

The gentle cascading action, once the initial heap in one corner has been formed, results in a loose fill with free airflow characteristics which, combined with the level finish, results in even airflow resistance and efficient drying.

"Sensor switches provide an alarm when the conveyor is nearly finished in one position and shut the plant down once it has," explains Mr Perry. "But on most farms, the tractor driver will keep an eye on things, moving it forward when necessary to keep everything running and perhaps using the last trailer load of the day to fill in any troughs."n

Timothy Everett: "The store is filled level and even with minimal supervision.