Grain Cleaner Takes The Bugs Out Of Drying

A new grain cleaner is proving a highly effective solution to the problem of removing bugs and weeds from thousands of tons of grain and pulses dried under contract each year by Notts farmer Peter Onions.

Mr Onions, who farms 450 arable acres at Shelton Lodge, near Newark, has an OPICO Model 595 Quiet Fan batch dryer equipped with a Sky-Vac grain cleaner. A new replacement machine is on order.

In addition to drying his own crops the machine is used throughout the year for contract work. "We've sufficient grain storage to act as trouble shooters for all the big grain merchants as well," says Mr Onions. "We handle everything - all cereals, linseed, oil seed rape, beans and peas."

The work entails taking in a lot of rejected, dirty grain for cleaning and drying. "A lot of mills now require completely bug-free grain, so we put all this through the drier, heat it up a fraction which kills the bugs, then take them out with the Sky-Vac."

"The grain screener does a brilliant job, and is also very effective for pulling out nasty green weeds, especially from oil seed rape."

Mr Onions is now on his seventh OPICO machine. "We use the machine all through the year, apart form December when everything stops for Christmas turkeys. We're taking in 150 tons of milling wheat now that's at 16.5-17 per cent moisture content. As we finish a contract for one merchant, so somebody else rings up with a reject load. The machine's never idle for more than a couple of days."

Great care is taken to ensure that the machine is operating at maximum efficiency, which means it must be filled to maximum capacity. "We go to great lengths to ensure that the dryer is level," says Mr Onions. "This enables us to fill an articulated lorry with two 12.5 ton loads from the dryer."

Reliable and efficient

The dryer's reliability is 100 per cent, say Mr Onions -"otherwise we wouldn't use it." It is also extremely efficient. "The computerised control system is fabulous. The gas it saves is unbelievable."

Ease of operation is another important factor. "The great advantage is that you can leave the machine," says Mr Onions. With wet wheat, for example, the dryer keeps going until midnight sometimes. "I can leave the machine, have some supper, take a bath and then turn the dryer off at 11.30 p.m. in my pyjamas! The men come in at 6 am so it doesn't stand idle for long. It's just a matter of organisation."

Depending on how much work is done and the type of crop it has been used to dry, each OPICO machine is kept on the farm for two or three years before being traded in for a new one. "It depends on how many beans we put through. Beans are a killer. If we don't do a lot of beans we keep the dryer three years, sometimes four."

The machines also hold their price well, says Mr Onions. "Other batch dryers have come and gone but they were copies of the OPICO and imitations aren't usually very good."

Cleaner working environment

The new Sky-Vac grain cleaner is purpose built and designed to fit easily on all standard pto drive OPICO grain dryers whether new or existing.

It removes trash, dust and fines from the working environment. Grain cleaning is improved, as is sample quality and bushel weight.