New trading platform can help boost arable margins from spring-sown crops

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The massive shift this season into spring-sown crops has left many growers searching for additional ways of increasing their margins per hectare.

Since spring-sown crops are known for their slim margins, feed preservation specialists, Kelvin Cave Ltd, have advised growers to consider crimping as a means of increasing their value. A new trading platform has promised to facilitate the process of trading crimp from farm to farm, enabling arable producers to link with buyers easily and securely, including livestock farmers and those using crimp for anaerobic digestion (AD).

Operational benefits of crimping cereals include bringing harvest forward by around three weeks and extending the window for autumn cultivations.

“This could help arable producers bring crop rotations back on track after the wet autumn and winter, while spreading the use of machinery, labour or contractors at a busy time,” says Michael Carpenter, northern area manager for Kelvin Cave Ltd. “Harvest can also be carried out in more catchy conditions and – if we have a repeat of last year’s weather – it could potentially be brought forward to miss the autumn rains.”

For livestock producers, the concentrate feed produced by crimping is safer to feed cattle and sheep and of a higher nutritional value than dry rolled grain.

“The fibre in crimped cereals is more digestible, protein more available and the sugar content is higher,” he says.

Recent research has also demonstrated that crimping destroys the viability of blackgrass seed, so removing a potential barrier to trading, particularly for the buyer.

“Dry matter yield per hectare can be up to 20% higher with the earlier harvest, as the crop is harvested before grain losses from birds, shedding and fungal infections,” continues Mr Carpenter.

“As a result of the earlier harvest, straw yield and quality are also higher, which could be a significant benefit in a year in which it is already forecast to be in short supply,” he says.

However, he believes an easy means of farm-to-farm trading will give the process even wider appeal, and cites the brand new online trading platform, Farm to Farm (www.farmtofarm.co.uk) as an important adjunct to trade.

The online platform is an extension of an established paper publication whose main focus until now has been the trading of farm implements and machinery. However, now its founder and managing director, Tris Baxter-Smith, who also farms in Northamptonshire, has witnessed the benefits of crimping, he has added crimped cereals and pulses to the trading service he offers.

Where appropriate, the platform also offers finance, haulage and the collection of AHDB levies, making the buying and selling process simple and straightforward and removing any risk.

Commenting that he also plans to crimp cereals grown on the family’s own arable farm, Mr Baxter-Smith says: “As farmers, we have been moving towards more spring cropping, but we’re concerned about margins and harvest dates, so if we can improve both by crimping, we are happy to give it a go.”

Michael Carpenter believes that in the post-coronavirus and post-Brexit climate, farm-to-farm trading will become increasingly important.

He says: “As the value of the pound has slipped and tariffs are threatened on imports, growing livestock feed in the UK will become increasingly cost-effective, also reducing food miles and increasing the UK’s food security.”

He says other benefits of harvesting and preserving cereal at up to 45% moisture include its easy storage in a clamp or farm tube and the absence of drying costs.

He says checking grain moistures is an important part of successful crimping and will dictate the amount and type of preservative applied.

“Gauging moisture at up to 45% has, until recently, been a matter of guesswork and experience,” he says. “However, with modern moisture meters, such as certain models of the Finnish-manufactured Wile, we can now achieve an accurate reading for high moisture cereals.

“If cereal moisture levels are between 25% and 45% we recommend using the preservative, Crimpsafe 300 but if the grain is drier – below 25% moisture – we’d recommend Crimpsafe Hi-Dry,” he says. “These products can be used on all cereal crops, maize and pulses.”

For more information about the crimping process, please contact Kelvin Cave Ltd on 01458 252281 or Michael Carpenter on 07817 977701.

What is crimping

Crimping involves the rolling of cereals, maize grain or pulses through a crimping machine to expose the carbohydrate and protein, and the application of a proven preservative such as Crimpsafe 300 or Crimpsafe Hi-Dry. This ensures a controlled fermentation and maximum nutrient retention once stored in an airtight clamp (or plastic tube). CrimpSafe preservatives allow cereals and maize grain to be crimped and ensiled at moisture contents from 16%-45%, although the best nutritional benefits come from grain harvested above 25% moisture. Crimp must remain sealed for at least three weeks and can then be fed or used in anaerobic digestion throughout the year. Pulses can also be crimped successfully with some minor adaptations to the process.

Caption:  Michael Carpeneter

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