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paces

9 February 2001

Final five go through their

paces

With five excellent finalists

in the MGA Milk and Meat

from Maize Silage

competition, picking a winner

wasnt easy.

Marianne Curtis joined the

judges for the final round

WEST

SELF-FEEDING, block calving and a forward thinking attitude to straights buying make for a simple, profitable system at Andrew Stevenss Leaze Hill Farm near Lechlade, Glos.

Judges were impressed by the simplicity of Mr Stevenss feeding system which incorporates layers of brewers grains, rape and wheat in maize and grass silage clamps. His 280-cow autumn calving herd self-feed these from clamps.

In previous years, 2kg/head of concentrate was parlour fed, but this has been increased to 5kg/head of a 35% concentrate because, unlike previous years, milk quota is not limiting.

Many producers would be envious of the straights costs Mr Stevens achieved this year. "I bought brewers grains last May at £14/t and rape meal last February at £77.50/t."

Maize silage accounts for two thirds of total forage on a freshweight basis and costs £30/t DM to grow and harvest. Different varieties are grown according to soil type.

"On Thames gravel where there is only 1ft of topsoil, I am looking for drought tolerant and late maturing varieties for maximum yield. But on heavier river meadow land, I go for an earlier maturing variety."

Although waste was low in Mr Stevenss maize clamp with little aerobic spoilage, judges believed some improvements could be made. "There was waste on both shoulders of the clamp which could have been improved by better rolling at the edges," said MGA judge John Morgan.

Total annual feed costs, including forage are about 4p/litre. Rolling average yield is 7200 litres and there are plans to expand the herd to 320 cows, said Mr Stevens.

Incorporating straights into maize silage clamps makes for a simple self-feeding system at Andrew Stevenss Leaze Hill Farm in Glos.

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paces

14 April 1995

Dutch slurry giants show

paces

A CONVOY of massive self-propelled slurry tankers made the trip over from the Netherlands to appear at Muck 95.

Dwarfing their trailed tanker companions, these £130,000 plus machines obviously have a rather limited market in the UK. But back home in Holland they are becoming increasingly popular, with most of the nations livestock slurry now injected by contractors.

Injection is the Dutch farmers only option by law; legislation first introduced in 1991 in certain regions now applies to the whole country.

Frans Albers, of tanker manufacturer Veenhuis, says although farmers have been forced to inject by the government to reduce ammonia levels in the atmosphere, they also recognise the benefits of the system over surface spreading.

"The most popular method is to shallow inject into grassland to a depth of 1-3in – shallower in clay soils, deeper in sandy soils," Mr Albers explains.

"Because the ammonia is retained in the soil, rather than lost to the atmosphere, the crop is better able to use the nutrient value of the slurry. And the farmer can reduce his fertiliser bill."

The Netherlands has vast quantities of pig and cow slurry to inject, which explains the move to contractors and their 300hp plus self-propelled machines. There are 3000 Dutch contractors, 2000 of whom run slurry injection equipment, says Mr Albers.

"Although I am unsure of the future legislation position on surface spreading versus shallow injection in the UK, the more progressive farmers will recognise the benefits of shallow injection. Why lose the nutrient value to the atmosphere when it can be used to cut bagged fertiliser costs?"

All the Dutch self-propelled machines on display at Muck 95 were fitted with the disc-type equipment popular in the Netherlands.

Topping the price range at £190,000 was Mr Albers Veenhuis VTT300. Powered by a 300hp Mercedes engine, the four-wheel-drive/four-wheel-steer machine was fitted with a 12,000-litre (2600gal) tanker and has a claimed output, including filling time, of 125t/hour. Also available are 400hp and 600hp versions.

At the other end of the price scale, costing "just" £139,000, was the Vredo VT1806 Multi Function Tractor. Fitted with an 11,500-litre (2500gal) tanker and weighing up to 14.5t gross, the 192hp unit was equipped with in-cab computer controls to give infinitely variable output independent of forward speed. The tractor can also be used as a general-purpose power unit for operations such as forage harvesting and ploughing.

Completing the Dutch triumvirate, the £175,000 Vervaet Hydro Trike has one fewer wheel than its counterparts. The 365hp three-wheeler was coupled to a 14,000-litre (3000gal) tanker at the NAC but can also carry a muckspreader or fertiliser spreader on its load platform.

Three Dutch self-propelled tankers dwarfed other machines at the slurry demo. The £139,000 Vredo four-wheeler (foreground) was the baby of the bunch with a 190hp Deutz engine mounted between its axles.

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