Over 100 years ago Albert Poucher purchased Lodge Farm, Bardney Dairies. At that point, the farm was a ‘mixed farm’ growing a variety of crops and managing several different animals. 5 generations later the family is still farming at Lodge Farm.
In the early years on the farm, the focus was building up the 100-cow milking herd, it was the necessity to feed these animals high-quality forage. This later saw the farm diversifying into ‘green crop drying’. With the need for such a large amount of good quality hay, a proportion of the yearly crop would be artificially dried inside, ensuring it wouldn’t become victim to the good old British weather! A process that seems totally unfathomable nowadays, the fresh grass was hung on large frames to be dried, it was whilst the grass was being dried that some of the smaller pieces of hay would inevitably fall to the floor, this would then be swept up and put into sacks to tidy up. When a local feed merchant spotted these sweepings and saw the potential for it as a great animal feed.
Work began in 1944 to install three green crop driers, one being a slightly larger capacity drier than the other two. The output of the larger drier being around 2 tonnes of dried product per hour, as appose to around 750kg each for the smaller two. The newly installed machinery began production in the summer of 1945 and was continually used until winter 1965. All the dried product was made into ‘Meal’ a green flour-like product, which was then manually bagged into 25kg paper sacks, this meant the men that worked in the drier at the time were kept fit carrying around those large sacks.
With this side of the business booming, it meant that a single, larger capacity drier was needed, and in late 1965/early 1966 a Van Den Broek type F drying plant was installed. This new drier had the capability to produce around 50 tonnes in a 12-hour shift, which was 8 tonnes more than the previous three driers could manage collectively! 1966 also saw the purchase of a pelleting machine.
The Next big changes to be made on the farm were, the installation of an automatic meal bagging plant in 1977 and the purchase in 1981 of a microprocessor to automatically control the operation of some of the drying plant. The microprocessor reduced input costs significantly and raised the output of the drying plant, a very valuable investment.
2012 saw the birth of the Emerald Green Feeds brand meaning a slight change in production styles, more feeds were bagged and fewer were stored for bulk sales. Although the 1966 drying plant is still used today, there are now several new and updated additions to the process allowing for the introduction of Emerald Green Feeds. A baling machine was purchased from Italy meaning the Grass-tastic and Alfalfa-mazing products could join the range of feeds as well as the smaller bagging machine used to package treats and samples, the drying plant is constantly evolving to meet the demands of the business.
As well as the updating and evolution of the drying plant the harvesting machinery has moved on over the years too. Purchasing of a new forage harvester and mowing machinery has taken place to keep up with the demands and the speed of the drying plant.
Who knows what the next developments at Lodge Farm will be, watch this space to find out.