Is crimping way forward?

2 July 1999

Is crimping way forward?

Established in Finland for

30 years, processing green

grain could find a place on

UK farms. Andy Moore

spoke to a new crimping


CRIMPING, or cracking crop three weeks before ripeness at 35% moisture, may seem to go against the grain in many peoples eyes.

As a new process in the UK, crimping consists of cracking any farm grown feed at a high moisture content, ensiling and then feeding it to livestock.

Grain is harvested as normal with a combine and then cracked using a machine known as a crimper to expose the starch.

Higher moisture

According to Finnish crimper manufacturer Korte, the key advantage is the opportunity to combine crops earlier with higher moisture contents. Harvesting earlier, for example in late June, enables growers to drill break crops such as stubble turnips or forage turnips between cereals.

Korte also claims grain DM yield an acre is 30% higher, with grain losses reduced by 6% to 10%. Similar yield increases are claimed for earlier cut straw which is softer and contains less dust.

It adds that because grain is cracked rather than crushed, more nutrients are retained, resulting in a more palatable feed for livestock.

Crimping contract

As a recent purchaser of a Korte crimper, contractor Gerry Down, who is based near Wincanton, Somerset, plans to start a crimping contract service this year.

The 2000 S2X2 machine was supplied by Kortes UK distributor SAS Kelvin Cave based near Langport, Somerset.

In operation, the machine is pto-driven with simple chain and sprocket drive. Grain can be loaded into the hopper by telehandler, tractor loader or combine auger. It then falls into two sections – each for two pairs of rollers. The dimpled or fluted titanium rollers crack the grain which then drops to a central auger. If the grain is harvested too dry, it can be moistened using a spray bar which directs water onto the rollers.

After the central auger, grain is transported through a discharge arm via paddles. To adjust grain flow onto the rollers and hence processing speed, two slides either side of the hopper can be altered.

To accommodate grain type and vary rolling aggression, the distance between the rollers can also be adjusted using a 4t integral bottle jack which is secured with lock nuts. A stone trap and magnet protect the drive rolls.

So far, Mr Down has a total of 1200t of grain allocated for the crimping service. This is mostly from small mixed farms growing 6-8ha (15-20 acres) of cereals.

"As farmers face low grain prices and the stringent crop assurance scheme, crimping offers a self-sufficient way of using crop," says Mr Down.

Harvesting moist grain means combine forward speeds have to be reduced by about 20%, with cylinder speed increased and sieves opened, says Korte.

Outstrip work rates

With crimping outputs at 40t per hour, and reduced combine speeds, he reckons the machine will outstrip the work rates of even the largest harvesters.

The large appetite is afforded by a 1500 litre hopper with power supplied from a 142hp John Deere tractor.

"The machine is able to crimp two-thirds of a tonne of grain every minute. This means if the crimper worked out in the field, two or three combines might be required to keep pace," predicts Mr Down.

"To meet the hourly rate charge and pay off the purchase price, the machine must be kept running continuously during the harvesting operation."

As to crimping location, work will be carried out mostly at the customers yard, with grain hauled between field and farm.

For machine transport to farms, the crimper – and telehandler when required – is carried on a low loader trailer.

Hauling and loading

The aim is to supply a man to operate the crimper, with hauling and loading relying more on farm labour. Depending on the customer, there are plans to hire out two combines to bolster the crimping service.

After crimping, grain can be ensiled in an existing forage clamp or, to reduce spoilage, in a dedicated clamp. The maximum time between combining and ensiling is 24hrs before deterioration occurs.

In addition to cereals, Mr Down also intends to process maize, peas, beans, soya, rape and linseed.

Other autumn contract work will include using the crimper for dry rolling grain. "Having a 30t capacity instead of the usual 9t for dry rolling, the crimper will have a much greater output. And because the machine cracks rather than crushes grain, dry feed value should also be higher," Mr Down concludes. &#42

Main picture: Grain processing outputs are up to 40t/hr for the Korte 2000 S2X2 crimper.

Above:Two pairs of titanium rollers each side of the crimper are used to crush rather than crack green or ripe grain.

Left: Crimping grain offers growers an alternative to falling grain prices and the crop assurance scheme, says contractor Gerry Down.

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