Serving the Farming Industry across East Anglia for 35 Years
A smart-web temperature monitoring system is helping to maintain and monitor crop quality in a Norfolk grain store. Remote grain monitoring system cuts costs

• Purpose-built bespoke facility

• Easier to monitor grain quality

• More efficient and lower costs

A smart-web temperature monitoring system is helping to maintain and monitor crop quality in a Norfolk grain store.

Centralising the grain storage in a single location to ensure easier transportation and improve quality control has been a key priority for Waldersey Farms, near Downham Market.

The business recently completed a two-year project to increase its grain storage and drying capacity. This involved the construction of a purpose-built facility designed and built by crop storage engineer Mike Bennett, of Bennett & Company.

Established in 1981, the farm includes more than 2,600ha of winter wheat, 600ha of both oilseed rape and sugar beet and more than 400ha of potatoes, says Waldersey’s quality assurance manager Rebecca Young.

“Before the new store, we harvested most of our crops below 15% moisture because we didn’t have the drying capacity, which meant we were often weather reliant at key times,” explains Ms Young.

Flexibility and control

“Two new grain stores offering 15,000t of combined storage, along with new drying and cleaning facilities will enable the business to begin harvesting crops at higher moisture levels of 18%, offering us more flexibility and control.

“Speeding the throughput of grain into the stores via improved drying and cleaning systems should also help us prevent backlogs from building up. This, in turn, means that the combines can keep working.”

The new facility was onstalled by grain storage engineer Mike Bennett, of Bennett & Co. Work commenced in January 2021 and involved sinking more than 1,000 concrete piles up to 8m deep into soft fenland soil to support the silos and infrastructure.

Grain comes into the storage and drying facility via a mechanically emptied, shallow surface intake pit. A 150t/hr grain conveying system then transports it via one of four elevators to an aspirator pre-cleaner which removes chaff and dust.

The newly cleaned grain then goes to one of three 500t hoppers, then into a 90t/hr capacity drier and finally into one of two storage buildings. These have capacities of 5,000t and 10,000t, served via a second conveyor which runs across the top of three silos.

“A belt conveyor with a tripper system ensures that grain is then evenly distributed across the floor of each store making a continuous heap,” says Mr Bennett.

Compared to the challenge of constructing the entire system on fenland soil, the eventual decision on the choice of monitoring system for temperature and humidity control of the stored grain was relatively straightforward.

“I’ve been designing and constructing grain stores for many years now and the logical choice has almost always been the WTM smart grain storage system, designed and manufactured by specialist crop storage equipment manufacturer Robydome.”

The WTM system can manage up to 16 grain stores. Temperature data from grain probes within the grain pile – including ambient humidity and temperature – is fed back to the WTM control box located in an operations room.

Quick and reliable

Data is then relayed in real time to a secure webpage which the grain store manager can accesses via mobile phone. This means any changes to grain store temperature and condition can be implemented at any time of day or night, from any location.

“The WTM is an intelligent, instinctive system that’s easy to set up with all the data stored in the control box for increased security,” says Mr Bennett. “You don’t need a desk top computer in the control room.”

This means risks to the computer from dust or humidity are eliminated. The software on the WTM is easy to use, with the latest WTM-2 model boasting more capacity and features, as well as faster and more reliable data storage.

“The WTM-2 also produces more detailed grain quality reports that show readings from all the grain sensors in a store, rather than just a summary of the highest, lowest and average temperature readings,” says Mr Bennett.

“The ability to control fan operation remotely and more precisely by pre-setting temperature and moisture parameters boosts grain quality and results in significant energy savings ­– reducing storage costs over time.”