Agchem store is fit for the future
As featured in Arable Farming Magazine
Agchem store is fit for the future
by Arable Farming
Reducing the risk of pollution from spraying operations is a primary consideration when building or upgrading an agchem store.
Bradford Farming is developing a new spray store at the heart of Bradford Estates, Shropshire, designed to service 2,000 hectares of arable land currently transitioning into a more sustainable system, with livestock, reduced cultivations and cover crops recently introduced.
The farmland is situated in the Shropshire Middle Severn surface water catchment and with salads, potatoes and cereals in its nine-year rotation, loss to water of crop protection products, nitrates and phosphates is of concern.
A new partnership, Bradford Farming was established after a strategic review in 2019 and has brought the management of the farming business back in-house after a period in contract farming agreements.
Operations are centred at Woodlands Farm near West on-Under-Lizard and carried out by four full-time staff, supported by harvest students.
Farms director Oliver Scott has pioneered a new machinery policy, with most of the fleet leased on short-term agreements for straightforward updating as technology advances.
However, with liquid fertiliser as well as chemicals generating a year round spraying workload, there is one notable exception.
He says: We have bought a 6,000-litre, 36-metre boom Horsch Leeb trailed sprayer and JCB Fastrac 4220, plus an 18,000-litre Philip Watkins bowser.
The sprayer will be stored, filled and washed down in a purpose-designed building, which will also house the chemicals.
Funding from Severn Trents Steps scheme has been used to cover some of the costs of the spray store development and Mr Scott is looking at further projects to reduce the impact of the estates agricultural activities on the environment.
The 18x10 metre steel structure will have extensive racking for chemical packs and IBCs, with the convenient location speeding up filling and reducing risks of spills when moving products from a separate store.
A bunded concrete floor slopes to a drain at the rear, which is connected to a biofilter.
Filtered water is then pumped to a holding tank for storage until it can be irrigated onto farmland.
A covered skip is being fabricated to accommodate empty spray packs for recycling, keeping rainwater out while freeing up space in the store.
We have earmarked land at the rear of the store for a 36m wide washdown area for use with the spray boom open, so we can carry out all sprayer washing in one place and safely collect the liquid, he says.
Spray water is currently piped from the mains, but Mr Scott is exploring the possibility of reusing filtered washings and harvesting rainwater from the roof areas of new buildings at Woodlands Farm, which include a large machinery store.
With a growing population in the local area, demand for mains water will increase, and it makes sense for us to recycle water where possible.
I would be keen to tap into expertise from Severn Trent to develop the washdown area to âbest practice standards and we would then happily make it available for other farmers to visit.
At the moment there is no defined standard to follow, so we are reliant on input from our construction contractors.
For example, the store building would have been better with insulation, to avoid having to drain down the sprayer ahead of freezing conditions.
Store management is co-ordinated by arable manager Doug McCow an using web-based Muddy Boots software to give access to the team as a whole and linked to invoicing in the farm office.
All filling and mixing is carried out at the store, with the filled sprayer travelling out to the field where it is supported by the Watkins bowser.
The 18,000-litre unit, carried on a triaxle with flotation tyres, has been specified with a hydraulic jack for levelling to ensure complete emptying and has a molasses tank fitted to the front of the frame.
Large lockers accommodate chemical packs and equipment.
In combination with the 6,000-litre sprayer, this gives plenty of capacity for a days work, says Mr Scott.
We may also add a 150-litre induction hopper so the bowser operator can pre-mix to save time in busy periods.
Severn Trents Steps scheme now offers up to £30,000* match funding for farms in pesticide catchments wishing to upgrade their sprayer washdown and pesticide handling area.
The funding can be used to cover part of the cost of constructing a bunded washdown pad, roofing (or to roof an existing washdown area) and biobed or biofilter.
The washdown area can be sited in a dedicated building which may also be used for pesticide storage.
Farms in the catchments can now apply for the funding at any time and will then receive a visit from an expert adviser to help plan the project.
*Where work is completed within six months.
Other water companies offering grant funding for spray filling area projects include:
â¢ Southern Water southernwater.co.uk
â¢ Thames Water thameswater.co.uk
â¢ Anglian Water anglianwater.co.uk
Grants for rainwater harvesting are also available under the Governments Farming Equipment and Technology Fund.
Chemical store construction
The Health and Safety Executives Agriculture Information Sheet No 16 (available to download from hse.gov.uk) offers detailed advice on siting and designing chemical stores.
This includes guidance on purpose-built stores, storage inside a larger building which may also house the sprayer (Bradford Estates building is an example), converting a structure, such as a shipping container, or small-scale storage inside cabinets or chests