For a few years now Chichester Grain has been aware of the fragility of the old silo system which was well passed its design life. The oldest ones are 47 years old! Despite many repairs and updates they have become outdated and uneconomic to use. It has been costing much more to fill and empty them than we get from our growers in charges. The final nail in the coffin was a full health and safety review, last year, which more or less condemned them. They were very labour intensive taking 2 members of staff 3 months every year to empty.
There has been a major shift, over the last year or two, in the commodities our growers wish to store here. The first is a move to Group1 wheat (in a normal year we produce up to 25% of Sainsbury’s in house bakery flour in collaboration with Frontier and Rank Hovis, Southampton). Virtually no group2 or feed wheat is grown. Secondly there has been a major move to growing malting barley. There is major demand from our marketing agent for more room to store malting barley.
The store has spent the last year obtaining the planning permission required to build another flat store to replace the old silos. Harvest 2017 stretched the drying and cleaning capacity beyond limits. This was especially true with the increased tonnage of malting barley. To maintain quality it is essential that both malting barley and quality wheat are dried and cleaned very quickly to maintain quality at harvest. With this in mind we have also obtained planning consent for a new drying and cleaning plant which will be sited between the existing and new shed at the far end of the site.
To make this economically sensible the board of directors applied for a grant. As usual these things have taken longer than planned but we are delighted that we were successful and obtained a 40% grant in mid March. Because of the ongoing timetable, to qualify for the grant, this has to be completed by August 2018 and the grant drawn down by September 2018. In reality we want this all up and running for harvest 2018. With this in mind we have appointed contractors and the project has already started. The plan is to have everything completed by mid July.
The new flat store will have a capacity of some 10,000t and will be split down the middle. Grain will be cooled by underground ducting which will be much more efficient. The grain drier will be rated at 40t per hour and will have a separate intake pit with a capacity of 80t per hour and there will be a wet holding silo for 150t. Included will be a state of the art cleaner allowing removal of screenings and impurities so that we can enhance quality.
The new shed and cleaner is planned to be used mainly for malting barley but not exclusively. Linked to our well equipped laboratory and highly trained staff we will offer a first class service to our members, Frontier and non-members. We have recently moved into a new office / laboratory and will have an automatic sampler installed prior to harvest 2018.