Devon Grain, the farmer-owned co-operative that provides storage for combinable crops grown in the county, is just weeks away from completing work on new silos that will take its capacity to 25,000 tonnes in time for harvest 2014.
An investment of close of £750,000 by the 100 plus members will significantly increase opportunities for arable farmers to store their wheat, barley, oilseed and oats – including organic produce – at the site, just off junction 28 of the M5, near Cullompton.
Manager Duncan Lyon said: “For the last few years we have been over-capacity; we’ve been struggling to meet demand. This will ensure we can take all that our farmers produce.”
He said the store, which sends grain to a range of customers, from animal feed manufacturers to companies making organic porridge, had close links with Kernow Grain in Cornwall and Cannington Grain in Somerset. Although primarily taking cereals from Devon farmers, the Cullompton store, also has members and those renting storage who come from farms in parts of Somerset and Dorset.
Jerry Alford, chairman of Devon Grain, said there was a growing demand for grain storage off the farm that met the highest hygiene standards. “Often existing storage on the farm is old and there is a lack of workforce to manage it. We can sort all that our for our members,” he said.
Farmer and cheesemaker Mary Quicke, of Newton St Cyres, near Exeter, is a director of Devon Grain. She said: “As a co-operative grain store it was set up in the 1980s. Increasing capacity in this way means farmers who are not always able to store grain on the farm have got somewhere to take it.”
The current capacity of the Devon Grain store is 20,000 tonnes so adding a further 5,000 will make a substantial difference. Mr Lyon said it would be the last major expansion possible on the Cullompton site.
The store, which had an original capacity of 8,500 tonnes when it opened for the 1983 harvest has seen successive extensions that have added extra storage and facilities.
It is part of the Openfield network of grain stores and operates two Svegma continuous flow grain dryers – fired by mains gas and a cleaner that can pre-clean grain at rate of 80 tonnes per hour.
There is also a chilling unit on site that will quickly cool grain even when under high ambient temperatures.
There is an on site laboratory meaning each load of grain can be sampled on intake and at loading out for quality including moisture, nitrogen, screenings, admixture and, in the case of oilseed rape, oil content.