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Crop cleaning and separation is easier on a Hertfordshire farm which has taken delivery of a vibrating sieve cleaner from McArthur Agriculture. Groundswell founder upgrades with crop sieve cleaning facility

• Vibrating sieve helps add value

• Intercropping into crop rotations

• Helps improve farm resilience

Crop cleaning and separation is easier on a Hertfordshire farm which has taken delivery of a vibrating sieve cleaner from McArthur Agriculture.

Groundswell co-founder John Cherry, of Lannock Manor Farm, near Hitchin, first saw the JK Machinery JCM VibroMAX 10133 when McArthur Agriculture exhibited the sieve cleaner at last year’s two-day regenerative farming event.

Mr Cherry said he recognised that the machine would prove an essential piece of kit as he and brother Paul increase the amount of intercropping as part of their regenerative and agroecological farming practices.

“After discussions with McArthur Agriculture, I took the decision to invest in a VibroMAX,” explained Mr Cherry.

“We had previously been using an old two-sieve pre-cleaner to separate crops but we often had to put crops through it twice, and one of the crops would still not be as clean as we wanted.”

“Mono-culture does not happen in nature, so we are planning to increase intercropping into our crop rotations. This will help improve soil health by increasing water and nutrient utilisation, driving up pest and disease resistance and weed suppression.

“But with larger amounts of crops to separate it was clear that we needed to upgrade our cleaning and grading capabilities so that we could add value to harvested crops on-farm.”

‘Best results’

The JCM VibroMAX 10133 is a triple decked machine equipped with three vibrating sieves which clean and separate crops to a high standard in a single pass, each crop being aspirated individually, via twin aspirators, to ensure the best results.

The performance of the JCM 10133 range of cleaning and grading equipment can be controlled through the changing of sieves and adjustment of several process variables, including machine angle and vibration frequency.

Mr Cherry has been experimenting with intercropping for around eight years mainly growing peas and rape as both were relatively easy to separate and clean using the old pre-cleaner.

He is looking to grow twin crops of wheat and beans; oilseed rape and peas; and peas and beans – with the aim of reaching a stage where each field contains two or more combinable or non-combinable crops.

“Many farmers are looking at intercropping trials, which can add complexity to crop rotation. But it also allows savings to be made on inputs and the combination of potentially smaller yields of both crops can deliver a larger yield than one crop grown alone.”

The Cherry family have farmed for 31 years, converting to a zero-tillage production system in 2010. “Intercropping is the future as it becomes an integral part of regenerative farming,” explains Mr Cherry.

“We started Groundswell seven years ago out of frustration that no-one was putting on a summer show that we wanted to attend,” he adds. “Its popularity goes from strength to strength and in 2022 we welcomed over 5,500 delegates.”

Groundswell’s growth reflects the snowballing of interest in regenerative agriculture, says Mr Cherry – not only from farmers but also from policymakers attracted by the ‘public benefits’ of such systems, including carbon sequestration.