Court Lodge Farm

Grain Store's Performance Outshines Weather, extracts from the South East Farmer, September 2012

Martin Boulden’s new grain store at Court Lodge Farm in Kent has already allowed him to dry milling wheat and catch the early premium market. 

From the beginning of August, Mr Boulden was cutting wheat at 19% moisture content and the new store was processing it at 25 tonnes an hour. “The system was easily keeping up with the combine,” Mr Boulden said. “The store and dryer has allowed us to achieve a better price for our crop.” By the third week in August, Mr Boulden was cutting wheat at 14% moisture content - like everyone else - and it was going through the system and into the big bulk store. “We had no difficulty in drying the crop very quickly.” The farm is 2,000 acres, and the main crops are barley, wheat, oats, oilseed rape, peas and beans. 

Although the farm has been hit by rain, Mr Boulden said the lack of sunshine had probably had more impact on wheat quality, and the wet weather had exaggerated disease problems... This year, yields are down because of the disease pressure. “I think things will even out over the two harvests,” said Mr Boulden, who added that the millers would find it hard to import to make up any shortfall because there is not much milling wheat about. “There is none coming out of Russia and the Black Sea area and the rest of Europe is keeping it to themselves. Spain and north Africa has been very dry, and there has been a terrible drought in the United States.” The general shortage, he said, is keeping the market buoyant. 

In these circumstances, the new grain store has proved invaluable. Torran Construction were the main contractors, supplying the grain store and all the technology to go with it. “Everything went to plan,” said Mr Boulden. “Their attention to detail and the construction of the building was outstanding.” Scorpion also dealt with the planning for the store in conjunction with Simon Kenny of Rural partners based in Northumberland. “When I first spoke to Scorpion’s representative for the South East, he said that he and his associate, planning specialist Simon Kenny of Rural Partners Ltd would handle the planning,” Mr Boulden remembered. Torran Construction dug the grain pits, floor and prepared and laid the concrete. “I was very pleased with the standard of their work,” Mr Boulden said. Darren Godden Plant Hire, based locally in Aldington, prepared the site, dug out the earth and put 1,800 tonnes of material through a crusher. BMS Electrical were recommended because they have installed similar systems: they installed all the system controls, including a programmer for the dryer. “They worked very effectively,” Mr Boulden said. 

AMS Engineering were in charge of the fabrication work on the wet grain pit, the hopper which sits inside the intake pit, the inspection platforms, safety barriers and the walkways on top of the dryer. “That all had to be made to measure to suit the job. We are more than happy with the installation and performance of the equipment” said Mr Boulden.