Serving the Farming Industry across East Anglia for 35 Years
A future-proof grain processing facility is helping a Bedfordshire estate meet its drying and storage requirements. Farm manager William Haupt worked closely with BDC... Hi-tech facility adds value to grain

A future-proof grain processing facility is helping a Bedfordshire estate meet its drying and storage requirements.

Farm manager William Haupt worked closely with BDC Systems and Thurlow Nunn Standen (TNS) to design and install the processing plant at Woburn Farms, part of the Bedford Estates, near junction 13 of the M1 motorway.

The estate includes 1480ha of arable crops, grass and stewardship. It grows feed and milling wheat, malting barley, milling oats, beans, peas and oilseed – with contract agreements across a further 660ha.

The farm previously worked with BDC Systems to install a grain processing plant in 1993. Now 30 years later, it was too small and had worked hard in recent years to handle a larger area and higher output combine harvesters.

“The increasing amount of high-quality grain and pressure of completing timely harvests was creating a bottleneck at the dryer,” says Mr Haupt. “We could only store 60% of our grain, forcing harvest sales of the remainder or the need to invest in external storage.

Twin intake system

“Storing grain on farm also meant lots of double handling as we utilised multiple smaller buildings across various sites, resulting in inefficient cooling capabilities and high labour costs around handling and monitoring the stored grain.”

Before this upgraded installation, Mr Haupt visited another facility designed by BDC Systems. It incorporated a twin intake system over a single large grain pit – giving the ability to switch between crops without needing to stop the plant.

The twin intake system also included a wet storage capability. Automated functionality provided by the control panel made it possible to batch dry and clean grain on a contract basis, without having to drop grain into the main bunkers.”

BDC then introduced TNS to the Woburn Farm team. Working together – and using specialist teams of suppliers and subcontractors – the two companies managed the entire project from design, build and commissioning.

Regular site meetings and good communication across the different teams saw TNS complete the new plant in time for harvest 2023. It delivers an additional 8,800 tonnes of storage – excluding a 500t intake capacity.

The new plant consists of four Skandia 60tph intake chain and flight conveyors, a Skandia aspirator pre-cleaner, a Zanin rotary drum cleaner – also fitted with a Skandia aspirator – a Svegma 68tph continuous flow drier and two Skandia belt conveyors.

Mr Haupt elected to install BDC’s Moisture Monitoring System. All equipment is housed within a specially constructed building which, with roof mounted PV panels, was designed with sustainability in mind.

Grain entering the plant follows one route with a drier bypass so it can be taken in and processed through the pre-cleaner and soon to be installed optical sorter, without going through the drier. The drier feed conveyor overflows back to the intake.

Different routes

The grain can take different routes from the dryer or cleaner – into storage or to bulk out on a Skandia chain and flight conveyor. All routes from the drier can include the Zanin rotary drum cleaner.

“We are installing the optical sorter so that we have the capability to remove any ergot from grain, which adds value to the site,” says Mr Haupt.

The plant has been designed with a 30-year lifespan and a return on investment through efficiency gains and increased marketing strength within 20 years. But Mr Haupt believes that the optical sorter will deliver a return in five years.

Because the farm can now clean and dress grain to ensure it meet exact market specifications, a larger percentage of its combinable crops are worth more and attracting a premium.

Working with BDC and TNS has allowed Woburn Farms to benefit from a future-proofed grain processing plant that allows us to set and achieve the highest standards of grain handling and storage for both the farmed estate and its clients, says Mr Haupt.