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Recycled waste clay and topsoil from the construction industry can help slash the cost of a new silage clamp – or increase specification without... Partnership builds bigger and better silage clamps for less

How recycling reduces clamp costs

Recycled waste clay and topsoil from the construction industry can help slash the cost of a new silage clamp – or increase specification without extra charges.

‘Muck-away’ material removed from industrial, housing and civil engineering projects during site preparation is highly cost-effective and environmentally beneficial, says Will Wilson, of clamp experts ARK Agri.

“The bottom line is that everyday construction contractors are removing thousands of tonnes of high-quality material of the exact type required to build the sort of modern high capacity silage stores encouraged by the Environment Agency and planning authorities.

“You only have to look at the amount of new housing and warehousing going up around the country to realise how much of this material there is available.

Perfect base

“It’s a construction company’s worst nightmare to try and dispose of this with significant legislation and fees involved, [but] it’s a silage clamp builder’s dream.

“In conventional clamp construction the material, often a mix of clay and topsoil, is perfect for levelling bases and correcting levels on site.

“In the case of an ARK clamp, it’s particularly beneficial as the material is perfect for supporting our unique sloping wall systems that allow better compaction and more material to be conserved than in traditional clamp designs.

With this in mind, ARK Agriculture has set up the first of what it hopes will be several muck-away partnerships with construction and haulage contractors to identify and deliver suitable material to farm businesses building new clamps, says Mr Wilson.

‘Win-win’ arrangement

“Muck-away has historically been tipped in areas like disused quarries or land fill sites but there are limitations to this method and the transport costs and fees are considerable.

“But by accepting this material, producers have access to a relatively low-cost building material with the money saved being used, for example, to subsidise their planning application, Environment Agency approval and even support the installation of a full ARK system.

“It’s a win-win all-round. The muckaway contractor gets a cost-effective site to tip material, the farmer gets a new subsidised clamp and we get to build a higher specification sloping wall installation.

Less risk

“Such clamps reduce the likelihood of pollution incidents and are welcomed by the Environment Agency and, because they are also extremely easy to hide with only the earth banks being visible, they are also popular with planners.”

Muck-away has particular relevance to the ARK sloping walled silage clamp system as it can form the earth banks required to support a concrete panel held at 23 degrees in the company’s unique and patented design, says Mr Wilson.

“The sloping wall means the walls are extremely durable not moving under the pressure of modern clamp machinery and the earth bank provides a safe working platform for operators to cover and uncover clamps.

“Furthermore, it means material can be safely stored above the height of the wall and we estimate this can add as much as 10% to the capacity of the clamp for a given footprint.

High oxygen barrier film

Such developments combined with modern Silostop high oxygen barrier films (HOBs) are giving producers a real opportunity to move their forage production forward and make the most efficient use of home-grown feed materials while minimising environmental impacts, he believes.

“Building a new clamp rather than relying on baled silage can help dairy farmers reduce costs, minimise use of plastic on-farm and lower their carbon footprint significantly.

“Over 20-years, the cost of ensiling each tonne of silage would be halved, use of plastic would be nearly 20 times less and associated C02 production would be reduced by nearly 95%.”

There are now over 200 ARK systems installed across in the UK.