Recycling waste clay and topsoil from the construction industry could help producers slash the cost of a new silage clamp or allow them to increase specification significantly without incurring extra charges, says Will Wilson of Silostop Agri.
Using clean ‘MuckAway’ – material removed from urban industrial, housing and civil engineering projects during site preparation – is not only technically preferable to many other options it is also highly cost-effective and environmentally beneficial, he believes.
“The bottom line is that every day construction contractors are removing thousands of tonnes of high quality material of the exact type required to build the sort of modern high capacity silage stores encouraged by the Environment Agency and Planning Authorities.
“You only have to look at the amount of new housing and warehousing going up around the country to realise how much of this material there is available.
“Whilst it’s a construction company’s worst nightmare to try and dispose of this with significant legislation and fees involved, it’s a silage clamp builder’s dream.
“In conventional clamp construction the material, often a mix of clay and topsoil, is perfect for levelling bases and correcting levels on site.
“In the case of an ARK Agri silage clamps, it’s particularly beneficial as the material is perfect for supporting our unique sloping wall systems that allow better compaction and more material to be conserved than in traditional clamp designs.”
With this in mind, ARK Agri has set up the first of what it hopes will be several ‘MuckAway’ partnerships with construction and haulage contractors to identify and deliver suitable material to farm businesses building new clamps, Will Wilson says.
“Historically ‘Muckaway’ has been tipped in areas like disused quarries or land fill sites but there are limitations to this method and the transport costs and fees are considerable.
“But by accepting this material, producers have access to a relatively low cost building material with the money saved being used, for example, to subsidise their planning application, Environment Agency approval and even support the installation of a full ARK agri system.
“It’s a win-win all-round, the ‘Muckaway’ contractor gets a cost-effective site to tip material, the farmer gets a new subsidised clamp and we get to build a higher spec. sloping wall installation.
“Such clamps reduce the likelihood of pollution incidents and are welcomed by the Environment Agency and, because they are also extremely easy to hide with only the earth banks being visible, they are also popular with planners.”
Partnership is the way forward
One of the first contractors to work with ARK in this way is P. J. Browns of Crawley, West Sussex, with several successful on-farm projects now in place.
“It’s a great partnership,” says the company’s Jim Legate. “We’ve worked directly with ARK Agri silage clamps not just in supplying the ‘MuckAway’ material but also with the farm businesses themselves to establish the optimum amount of material required to build and subsidise the clamp to the best effect.
“We are a well-established muck away contractor operating our own fleet around the M25 and being sure we take care of our customers is essential on these projects.
“We offer planning and Environment Agency advice through a team of experts and put in place substantial checks when we deliver material to site.
“This begins with ensuring the correct documentation is in place and continues to monitoring the site as material is tipped.”
Jim Legate also points out that ‘MuckAway’ can also be used in other farm building projects.
“We want to complete more of the ARK agri silage clamps in the future, but we also want to form long relationships with our farmers so we can carry on the ‘MuckAway’ scheme into future projects like lagoons and yard extensions.”
How ‘MuckAway’ can add 10% to silage clamp capacity
“MuckAway’ has particular relevance to the ARK agri sloping walled silage clamp system as it can form the earth banks required to support a concrete panel held at 23 degrees in the company’s unique and patented design, says Will Wilson.
“The sloping wall design means the walls are extremely durable not moving under the pressure of modern clamp machinery and the earth bank provides a safe working platform for operators to cover and uncover clamps.
“Furthermore it means material can be safely stored above the height of the wall and we estimate this can add as much as 10% to the capacity of the clamp for a given footprint.
“Compaction against the clamp walls is also enhanced and ARK have many years experience in clamp design to bring these elements together to make the storage of silage in their clamps more efficient.”
There are now over 200 ARK agri systems in use in the UK across livestock and renewable energy plants.