Category Archives: General News

Silage Making Essentials

Five essentials to making good silage

For more information please click the link below.


Safesil is a special blend of food-grade preservatives that eradicates all the major spoilage organisms. Proven to be supremely effective across a wide range of dry matters and crops.


At 3m wide and weighing about 4,000kg with 11 individual roller rings, a SilaPactorspeeds up the compaction process almost four-fold, saving both time and fuel and can increase dry matter compaction density by up to 40% when compared to conventional tractor rolling.


O2 Barrier 2in1 is applied as a single sheet which transforms into two on the clamp; a protective, high-quality top layer covering a layer of very oxygen impermeable, polyamide vacuum film. O2 Barrier provides quick and effective clamp sealing with reduced workload, and up to a tenfold decrease in oxygen permeability.


ClampNet is a 300g/m2, heavy-duty green silage cover with seamed, stitched edges to prevent fraying or unravelling. It offers added protection from attack by birds and vermin and also helps to maintain compaction.


Made from 90 per cent re-cycled material with a life expectancy of around 15 yearsClampTiles are ergonomically designed for ease of handling. Unlike tyres, they don’t harbour rainwater and debris, and when not in use can be stacked on pallets.

An Overview of the Place for Beans – Starting and Finishing with Your Policy

By Roger Vickers CEO of PGRO (Processors and Growers Research Organisation)

Policy – a word that turns most people off – is probably an unpromising one to start an article.

It was, however, CAP reform that started some mixed farmers thinking about how best to make the most of the greening regulations to maximise their home-produced protein and reduce their outgoings. Since then the national crop area of beans, practices of home feeding, and utilisation within the feed industry in general have increased.

As a result, with a focus on produce grown and fed on farm both as preserved grains and as wholecrop silage a previous edition of KnowHow featured the feeding qualities of beans. Pages 4-9 Spring edition 2016 (‘Hold on to more profit with home-grown beans’) (link is external).

The current CAP regulations, announced in 2014, encompass the probably now well-understood ‘Three-crop rule’ and its requirements for Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs). These requirements accelerated what was an already increasing interest in UK pulse cropping – especially in field beans. Bean area rose steadily year on year following the CAP ruling, and as of harvest 2016 stood at approximately 175,000 hectares in England and Wales (source: DEFRA).

Policymakers love to make changes and, just as we were all getting used to the new situation, it was confirmed at the beginning of August 2017 that changes to the EFA greening requirements would come into force from the 1st January 2018. The changes will apply to crops from the point of sowing through to harvest. Thus encompassing crops sown in autumn 2017 and prohibiting the use of any plant protection products on EFA fallow, EFA catch & cover crops and for EFA Nitrogen Fixing Crops.(Read More)

It is too early to say what effect this will have on the area of beans sown for 2018 harvest – but what is certain is that the underlying reasons for growing them and the very real farming benefits they deliver to the rotation have not changed.

Beans are widely recognised as a low input crop. That said, to get the best out of them they cannot simply be ignored. Planning and attention to detail, from the initial field selection right through to harvest, will help to ensure that the very best crop is realised. Inputs may be few but attention is required to ensure that the crop is well established, with free drainingsoil and an unimpeded root zone. Weed competition should be minimised, sufficient nutrition should be available and, as far as possible, the crop should be maintained free from the stress of pests and disease.

As nitrogen-fixing crops, beans do not require the application of any nitrogen fertiliser and can be expected to fix about 240kg of N during the growing season, leaving behind a residue of 50-70kg for the following crop. (Value £36-£50/ha based on ammonium nitrate at £245/t) (Read More (link is external))

This nitrogen residue and the positive impact the beans have on soil structure and soil biology are a large part of the reason that cereal crops following beans are so much improved. These benefits are readily visible in a following wheat crop, but have a decreasing but still present impact for subsequent crops too. A typical first wheat after beans is likely to yield 0.8 to 1.0t/ha more. At current values this represents additional income of approximately £145/ha.

Being legumes, beans offer a very real break in largely cereal crop based rotations, giving the opportunity to control weeds both physically and with a different chemical armoury, therefore assisting in addressing the issue of developing pernicious weed populations. Weeds such as blackgrass have, in some areas, become extremely expensive or even impossible to control with conventional agrochemical tools and can have enormous negative impact on yields. In places, this has made cereal cropping almost unviable, hence beans in a wider rotation offer an opportunity to fight back and establish more robust cropping practices.

Soil borne diseases such as verticillium wilt, (Read More (link is external)) clubroot (Read More (link is external)) and take-all (Read More (link is external)) are becoming real barriers to sustainable productivity.

For growers used to producing oilseed rape and wheat, or any other crops in a close cropping sequence, the benefits of beans in extending their rotation are significant.

Of course, this does not mean that beans are without their own problems, and close sequence cropping of pulses should also be avoided. It is recommended that beans should not be grown in a closer than 1:5 rotation and seed should always be checked for freedom from stem nematode and ascochyta.

The nature of bean physiology has an impact upon annual workload on farm. A spring-sown crop opens the autumn workload window and the general maturity of the crop means it rarely competes with the winter wheat harvest. Earlier maturing varieties can be selected in northern growing areas and desiccation techniques can be adopted where even a few days can be a huge advantage.

The market for beans is diverse but the primary outlets are for human consumption and for animal feed. By far the largest human consumption market is in the export trade and depends upon having a bright and pale colour sample with good visual appearance. Crops making the grade will normally receive a premium which can be £15-25/t. The visual appearance is largely irrelevant for the animal feed market, however, a major barrier for the feed merchants is continuity of supply. In recent times this has been less of an issue and the feed merchants have enthusiastically taken the additional quantity of home-produced protein for processing. There is every indication that given reliable availability they will continue to do so.

Nor does any of this affect the fact that home- produced beans remain an excellent feed and an opportunity to retain more profit within the farm enterprise.

So often in articles such as this you will find gross margin figures quoted in an attempt to persuade you that the crop being discussed is the most profitable, or at least comparable, to others you might consider. If we did that here for beans you would find that they more than hold their own – even without trying to monetarise the many agronomic and practical benefits outlined above, most of which are misleadingly accrued in and attributed to the following crops.

In reality, crop gross margin presentations are rarely accurate, for unless they take account of an individual’s costs and performance, they can never truly represent a specific farm enterprise. The work of the PGRO is aimed at trying to improve the ability of growers to increase their output and profitability from pulse crops.

The leading growers do not have significantly greater input costs than anyone else and yet reach yields of 8 t/ha or more – measured against the average of nearer 4 t/ha. Hence, there are clearly a lot of possibilities to make a nonsense of many of the theoretical gross margins presented.

Whilst most farmers are almost certain to see the new EFA requirements as irritating, the reality is the same for all crops previously grown on EFA areas – the changes are not a peculiarity of beans. Growers are going to simply have to look elsewhere, to hedgerows, copses, field margins, catch and cover crops and fallow to meet their 5% obligations.

The key message to take away from all the above is that – with a little attention to detail – there is some serious profit to be had on farm from pulses, and that fact has not changed.

Those who have been growing beans will, hopefully, have realised that it is a crop that offers so much more than the opportunity to tick a box for the regulator and, after full consideration, will keep beans in their well-deserved place in the farm’s rotation policy.

For more information on how best to harvest and preserve home grown beans please read our spring 2016 issue of KnowHow (link is external) to find out more from other farmers on how they are benefitting from growing beans and the techniques used to maximise their return on investment.

Family Fortunes

Using crimped maize and cereals to rear and finish dairy-bred beef has transformed the fortunes of a Yorkshire farm.

Rearing pure dairy bull beef was introduced at Cross Hill Farm near Goole, as a side-line to the arable business, but today has grown to become the farm’s financially most important enterprise and enabled the next generation of the family to work at home.

The success of the dairy-beef business has hinged upon the use of home-grown feeds, with crops chosen carefully to fit the arable rotation and to provide high energy feeds for breeds which can be challenging to finish.

However, with the right feeds, the mainly Holstein bulls are sent to slaughter at 12 to 13 months, achieving deadweights averaging 230kg and returning a net margin of around £60/head – with home-produced feeds costed into the ration at their market values.

“With over 600 head going through every year, this makes the beef just as important as the arable business,” says Neil Welburn (pictured opposite), who farms with hiswife Deirdre on the largely tenanted Yorkshire farm.

The cattle were introduced to the farm in 2008, at around the time the couple’s son and daughter, Chris and Claire, returned respectively from Askham Bryan and Bishop Burton Colleges ‘full of ideas’.

Because of the low price of dairy bull calves, the family were able to purchase high numbers, beginning with around 100 head in their first year, but soon scaling up the operation.

“Initially, we bought two- to four-week-old calves from local dairy farmers, and sold them as stores at six to eight months at a local market,” says Mr Welburn.

They would remain on milk and creep feed until eight to 10 weeks, and then go on to the largely purchased ration.

“This included a bit of everything such as chopped lucerne, flaked maize, dried, rolled cereals and sugar beet pulp, but when we worked it out, it was costing us a fortune,” he says. “I’d say it was at least £40-£50/tonne more just because we were buying so much of it in bags.”

It was after about a year on this regime that two landmark meetings occurred, both of which would transform the system on the farm.

“We met Adam Buitelaar, (managing director of the Buitelaar Group which manages supply chains and processes rosé veal and young beef from the dairy herd) and we met Michael Carpenter (from feed and forage preservation specialists, Kelvin Cave Ltd),” he says.

The two meetings set off a series of changes which would lead to a shake-up of the arable rotations, significant revisions of the rations, and cattle being finished on the farm and sent directly to Buitelaar (the Woodhead meat plant in Lincolnshire) for slaughter.

“We had been growing wheat and getting around four tonnes/acre but when we met Michael at LAMMA in 2009, he told us that if we harvested three weeks earlier, we’d get closer to six tonnes,” recalls Mr Welburn. “He was absolutely right with this prediction, as that’s exactly what we did the following harvest.”

Although he accepts that some of the extra weight was accounted for by moisture, he says the dry matter yield per acre is also higher and the nutritional value of the crop at the time of the earlier harvest is at its peak.

The earlier-harvested wheat meant the grain had to be crimped – a process which involved passing it through rollers on the day of harvest to expose its carbohydrate and protein.

“A preservative is applied to the rolled grain which is then stored in an airtight clamp or plastic tube,” says Kelvin Cave’s Michael Carpenter. “The process involves a controlled fermentation and will retain the maximum possible nutrient value and give better performance than dried grain.”

Mr Welburn committed around 200 tonnes of wheat to crimping in the first year, admitting he was nervous about keeping a high value of feed ‘outside in plastic bags’.

“It came home to me when a neighbour pulled up and pointed out we had £30,000-worth of feed in those bags,” he says.

However, he says he liked the way the moist product fed and how the cattle performed, and that storing the crimp outside freed up shed space for cattle.

“The cattle did really well on it,” he says. “The minute we started feeding crimp, they stopped coughing – as we do have a problem with pneumonia which is under investigation.”

The area of cereals for crimping across the 900-plus acres the family farms increased every year, and in 2011 the decision was taken to apply the same technique to grain maize.

Everything except the grain is left in the field including the entire stover and centre of the cob. This makes harvesting much cleaner and protects the soil from run-off and erosion over the winter.

Everything except the grain is left in the field including
the entire stover and centre of the cob. This makes
harvesting much cleaner and protects the soil from
run-off and erosion over the winter.

“It’s not something that’s normally grown around here but we’ve found it fits perfectly into the crop rotation,” says Mr Welburn.

They chose to sow the maize after carrots, which are grown by a neighbour on short-term rented land and harvested in April or May. Because the maize is harvested as grain, many of the problems associated with a late harvest are overcome by the return of the crop’s stover to the land, which creates a mat under the combine on which it can travel without damaging the soil.

“I made up my mind I was definitely going to crimp the maize – I didn’t even consider maize silage or anything else,” he says.

“Our contractor had told us we could bank on yields of three tonnes/acre but may get up to six, and he was also exactly right,” he says. “We tried just 40 acres of maize in the first year, using the lightest, blow-away sandy land – the sort that would only yield two tonnes of wheat – and harvested 3.5 tonnes/acre.”

Rations were reformulated by independent nutritionist, Lizz Clarke, and included 3.5kg crimped maize, 1.6kg crimped wheat, 0.5kg crimped beans, 1.5kg baled silage, 1.5kg dry barley, 2kg of a high protein molasses feed and 1kg Trafford Gold.

She says: “Crimped grain is a superb energy source for cattle because it is slowly fermented so bypasses the rumen, which is perfect in this system when you are aiming to finish from 10 months onwards.

“It is better utilised than dried grain and particularly suits these Holstein cattle which are difficult to put weight on.

“It is equally suited to dairy cow rations, and is much safer to feed than dried grain and less likely to cause acidosis,” she says.

However, she says she has complemented the crimp in this ration with highly degradable ingredients to feed the rumen, which, on this farm, have variously included potatoes and molasses, depending on availability.

“In this system, energy is key while protein can be lower, and this ration analysed at a metabolisable energy of 13MJ/kg DM and 12% protein,” she says.

Today, the area of maize grown for crimping by the Welburn family has increased to 240 acres and will hopefully expand in the future, with most used on the farm and some sold to neighbouring dairy herds. A temporary clamp has been built from wrapped silage bales and has been filled with around 550 tonnes of crimped maize.

The monitor in the combine shows a yield of more
than 10t/ha and moisture content of 36.2%.

“This has saved a substantial cost as plastic tubes are £300 a time and we’d need at least five for this amount of maize, costing around £1500,” says Mr Welburn.

“All we now have to buy on a yearly basis is O2 Barrier 2-in-1 for the top sheet at around £300, but we’ll cut this in half and use it for the sides of the clamp the following year,” he says. “Everything else including the netting is a one-off expense so it’s a cheaper and tidier way to store the crimp.”

Meanwhile, he says that crimped maize fits in perfectly with the spring-harvested, strawed carrots which are otherwise difficult to follow, is now yielding closer to 4t/acre and appeals to local landlords as it leaves the ground in a better condition than many of the alternatives.

“Rents are high and we have to compete with land for anaerobic digestion, but the landlords like the fact that we return organic matter and structure to the soil and don’t leave the field in a mess,” he says.

“We put farmyard manure on to the land before seeding, and the only thing we take off is the grain. The combine pulls the stalks through the header and chops and lays them in a mat so there’s no mess at harvest and no exposed soil or run-off over winter.

“We feel we have found a system which dovetails perfectly with the rest of the farm, makes good use of difficult land and has doubled the turnover of the business – but most of all, it’s allowed all of the family to stay at home and work on the farm,” he says.

Main picture: The crimped maize clamp – constructed from bales.
Inset: Ingredients in this TMR include crimped maize, crimped wheat and dry silage.

Evolution, not revolution, in crimped grain preservatives

Many of the things we take for granted in our modern lives have evolved over time.

The wheel, for instance, has been around for millennia. But transforming it from a roughly hewn disc of stone or wood into a high-performance lightweight alloy rim has been an evolutionary process – the product of initiative, innovation and a desire to make something that performs better than its predecessor.

The same has been true when it comes to crimped grain preservation. Since its beginnings, in the early 1960s in Finland, it was realized that an effective preservative was essential in order to ensure a reliable and efficient fermentation and an end product that remained stable during feedout. At that time the active ingredients available that proved most effective were blends of formic and propionic acids, which ensured a controlled fermentation and good control of aerobic losses during feedout.

While using acid-based grain treatment was a huge improvement over non-treatment, the downsides were that it was potentially hazardous to use, produced unpleasant fumes and was corrosive to the machinery used to handle it. These concerns, and the resistance from users they posed, were reduced by the development of the gaseous ammoniation process pioneered by Kemira. This reduced the corrosivity and fuming of the acids to a more acceptable level without compromising their effectiveness, and Crimpstore 2000S, introduced by Kelvin Cave Ltd to UK farmers at the start of the millennium, became the benchmark crimped grain treatment.

Crimpstore 2000S was shown to out-perform biological inoculant treatments (proposed by some as an effective alternative) in controlled independent tests, with far higher nutrient retention and better aerobic stability in the treated cereals. This resulted in better energy utilisation and significant increases in milk yield in dairy herds.

Now, however, Kelvin Cave Ltd has once again raised the bar with the introduction of CrimpSafe 300, the next generation crimped grain preservative.

The product of four years of extensive laboratory and on-farm trialling in the UK and mainland Europe, CrimpSafe 300 retains the acknowledged benefits of its forerunner but with even better aerobic stability (see graph below) and minimal fermentation loss. Based on state-of-the-art human food preservative technology, CrimpSafe 300 is virtually odourless and totally non-corrosive with a pH>8.

CrimpSafe 300 is designed for ‘traditional’ crimped, ensiled grain harvested from 45% down to 25% moisture.

When grain is harvested below 25% moisture, and ensiling in a clamp or plastic tube is the desired storage method, CrimpSafe Hi-Dry is the most effective preservative choice.

Both offer unrivalled, cost effective performance, setting a new benchmark in crimped cereal preservation – but don’t just take our word for it.

Read what independent farm contractor, Frans de Boer, has to say about the new product (below).

CrimpSafe 300 assessed on south of England farms
Everything Frans de Boer does for his contracting business is carefully calculated and based on sound science, so when he was asked by Kelvin Cave a couple of years ago to test a new crimping preservative on UK farms, he was keen to take part in the product’s assessment. As a West Sussex-based farmer himself and a contractor across the south of England, it’s important that Mr de Boer can recommend products which are tried and tested in real-life farming situations.And because his own farming business now includes anaerobic digestion, he is also keen to find the best way of retaining the maximum energy value of any home-grown feed.

So, setting about the task, he introduced the new preservative, CrimpSafe 300, on his own farm and to a selected number of his clients. “The first thing we noticed was how long CrimpSafe kept the cereals and maize fresh after the clamp was open,” he says. “It was longer than anything we had ever used before and it also kept the product very well after feedout.

“This is really important to us as we sell a lot of crimp to customers and they will tend to take delivery of a full lorry-load, which may last them a week to 10 days,” he says. “They reported that the crimp kept really well and stayed cold – right down to the dregs at the end.”

Making around 1,000 tonnes of crimped cereals every year plus 5,000 tonnes of crimped maize, it is absolutely essential on a commercial basis that Mr de Boer gets the process right.

“For our anaerobic digester it’s all about getting the highest possible gas yield from our crops and we’ve opted to use crimp as part of our feedstock as we believe it’s the most cost-effective in terms of gas yield per hectare on land that is some distance from the farm,” he says. “By leaving the straw on the field we are not bringing in the part of the crop with lower gas value but returning it as organic matter to the soil as well as benefiting from a longer retention period in the digester.”

A 1,000-tonne clamp of crimped maize destined for anaerobic digestionA 1000-tonne clamp of crimped maize for anerobic digestion

Meanwhile, since cereals for crimping are harvested at 35-40% moisture and at their optimum nutritional value before they begin to senesce, they have a higher feed and gas value than more mature grain, have less disease losses and – since they are preserved in a clamp or farm tube at the moisture content at which they are harvested – they incur no drying or dry storage costs.

“I’ve never understood why more growers don’t opt for crimp rather than dry grain,” says Mr de Boer. “Why would you want to incur the fuel cost of drying grain when you are only going to make it wet when you either feed it to your stock or put it in the anaerobic digester?

“We know for a fact that we get more energy per hectare out of crimped than dry grain and if you are feeding stock, you get rumen benefits too,” he adds.

As for CrimpSafe 300, he gives it an emphatic thumbs up and will be using it for all of his crimped cereals and maize, running it through his fleet of Korte crimping machines, whether bagging or elevating into a clamp.

“Farmers trust us to do what we do,” he says. “And I am completely confident in offering this product.”

Going for GOLD – ClampNet just got even better!

Secure your silage investment with our newly released very high quality heavy duty (300g/m²) silage cover – ClampNet Gold.

Made from a finely-knitted UV-stable (there is a ten-year full UV stability guarantee) high density polyethylene (HDPE) material which will not fray or unravel, ClampNet Gold’s flexibility enables it to mould into the contours of the silage – giving it maximum contact with the top silage sheet to help maximise aerobic stability and minimise wind-lift when weighted down with gravel bags or ClampTiles.  ClampNet Gold will also protect the silage sheet from sunlight and reduce damage caused by birds and animals.

For more details and to discuss your specific needs please contact your local Kelvin Cave area manager, or call us on 01458 252281