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Farm businesses are taking advantage of changes in the planning system to upgrade grain drying and storage facilities. Planning changes make it easier to upgrade stores

• Larger buildings with less red tape

• Easier to optimise farm productivity

• Permitted development rights eased

Farm businesses are taking advantage of changes in the planning system to upgrade grain drying and storage facilities.

Changes made in 2018 make it possible to construct an agricultural shed of up to 1,000sqm – a significant increase from 465sqm – without the need to submit a full planning application, says farm adviser Killian Gallagher of Gallagher Planning.

These permitted development rights are still subject to a prior approval process – but this involves considerably less red tape than a standard planning application.

The entire process is also cheaper, less complex and quicker.

Robert Huddlestone, of Huddlestone Produce, used permitted development rights to upgrade his  continuous flow drier with square bin storage, which had been in place for more than 40 years at Groves Farm, Howden, East Yorkshire.

Mr Huddlestone says his old grain drying and storage system had become unreliable and unable to cope with modern harvest demands.

The time had come to upgrade and reap the benefits to the changes in permitted development rights, he adds.

Productivity boost

“We harvest around 200ha of wheat as a break crop to the swedes we grow for the wholesale markets,” he explains.

“It was key that a new grain-drying and storage plant delivered the efficiency and productivity we needed so that harvest could be completed as quickly as possible.

“We can’t hold up work around our main crop of swedes which take up most of our time and manpower.”

Mr Huddlestone worked closely with Scott McArthur, director at McArthur Agriculture, with input from BDC Systems, on the options for a new plant which was designed to take full advantage of the change in legislation.

Prior planning approval was obtained to construct a galvanised steel portal framed shed (42m long x 23.5m wide x 11.75m to the apex) with precast concrete grain walls. The plant also had to operate with the existing 100Amp power supply.

Drying capacity

McArthur Agriculture and BDC Systems designed the grain processing plant to optimise the permitted space, and deliver the required capacity to dry around 2,500t of wheat at 20tph when drying feed wheat down from 20% to 15% moisture content.

The shed is divided into seven 6m bays. Bays 1-6 are for grain storage and bay 7 houses the intake, Skandia Elevator AB grain handling equipment and a Svegma SVC 4/4 continuous flow drier, both supplied by BDC Systems.

“We chose a Svegma drier because we have to finish harvest as quickly as possible so is likely we will need to combine grain with a high moisture content,” says Mr Huddlestone..

Lateral fixings

The Svegma has a lateral fixing system which means there are no fixings or ledges inside the grain column to hinder the grain flow, which is really important if grain comes in wet.

Grain enters the plant via a Skandia KTIG 20/40 40tph trench conveyor fitted into a hopper recessed in a concrete trench in the wet grain bunker. The conveyor transports the grain to a pair of Skandia SEI 35/14 40tph belt and bucket elevators.

The drier feed elevator is fitted with a dust and chaff remover to pre-clean the grain before it reaches the drier. The dry grain is fed into the grain store by a Skandia KTIB 20/40 40tph curved chain and flight conveyor.

Build quality

“Skandia conveyors were chosen not only because of their build quality, but Skandia’s range of section lengths and curve options allows for the design of a compact grain handling solution without compromising on reliability,” says BDC sales director Andrew Head.

This was crucial for Mr Huddlestone’s plant as to keep to the 1,000 sqm footprint the drier, grain handling system and control room had to be housed in one bay.

The plant was completed within the timescales set despite Covid lockdowns, and has easily kept up with the combine.

“Before the installation of the new plant the previous five harvests had, on average, taken around 100 hours,” says Mr Huddlestone. “Last year we had our biggest yield yet and harvest took just 70 hours.”

This time saving has been solely down to the new future-proofed plant which allows us to dedicate resources to our other revenue generating business enterprises.

“I am confident that the plant will continue to meet our requirements for many harvests to come.”