ENGINEERING: Crop Circles Of The Beneficial Kind
Recent Western Cape Business News
Constructed with strong 1.31 mm galvanised steel, the crop circle rings protect grain from rain, wind and wildlife while saving on storage and transport costs. Originally developed in Canada, the concept was fine-tuned to perfection in South Africa by Unigrain, which was awarded sole franchise for the system in Africa.
Anton Fick, of Fick Sementwerke in Piketberg recalls: “Frikkie Barnard of Unigrain Storage came to our yard looking for an alternative to the original foundation design which was a double brick wall filled with reinforced concrete. The use of precast foundation beams was already an improvement on the economic front, but not without drawbacks. We then looked at the L12 Terraforce display in front of our office and it soon became clear that they represented the solution, economically and from the ease of installation point of view.”
Barnard says that placing the panels is often not sufficient to prevent water, mice or porcupines from reaching the grain: “The Terraforce blocks make it harder for water and rodents to get underneath the panels, as it lifts the entire structure of the ground by 150 to 200 mm.”
A 21 m crop circle uses 155 Terraforce blocks and the first installation was undertaken by farmer Rudolf Eksteen of Moorreesburg. He was impressed with the ease of installation. “All that is required is a level piece of ground with a matching diameter.” Packing the versatile blocks on a circle marked out around a central foundation hole is a breeze, although requiring some basic construction skills.”
“The area inside the circle is then filled level with sand or soil and compacted. Unigrain then proceeds with the erection of the specially profiled steel collar, the industrial strength tarps and ground moisture barriers for the temporary grain storage systems, available with vents, lifting straps, and auger chutes.”
“At regular intervals around the perimeter, the structure is secured to the ground with specially designed ground anchors. Further support is provided by individual Terraforce blocks that are filled with concrete at those points. The unit is now ready to be filled with grain.”
This grain storage method offers the producer a number of advantages;
• Saving on transport cost and reduction of risk due to long transport routes.
• Increased quality upgrades potential.
• Self control over grain and competitive storage costs.
• No capital investment for producer.
• Increased harvesting speed by up to 30%, again resulting in less risk.
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