The Duke of Gloucester Prince Richard has been in Hemswell to open a grain storage facility which has undergone a £10 million expansion.
Woldgrain Storage Ltd, based at Hemswell airfield, has just completed the final stage of a five-year expansion plan that has increased its total storage capacity from 20,000 to 85,000 tonnes.
The Duke’s tour on Friday included the laboratory where grain is tested on arrival and the control room, from where the whole plant is managed - here he was able to see a lorry unloading into the plant, and another being filled.
And the Duke was ‘very interested’ in the facility, according to Woldgrain’s managing director John Burnett.
Mr Burnett said: “The Duke was very interested.
“Having been a farmer and landowner himself, he knew an awful lot more than I thought he was going to which was good.
“He asked really interesting questions, technical questions as well.
“He was especially interested in the laboratory; he hadn’t seen quite such a sophisticated laboratory before and he was very interested in the testing process and the machinery, how quick it was.
“We also demonstrated the new logistics software that we are using, so he was very interested in that.”
The expansion has been possible due to a grant from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the support of Woldgrain’s co-operative members.
Woldgrain, which is owned by farmers, allows members to store their combinable crops in optimum conditions, and to pool their resources allowing them to add value to their products.
Mr Burnett said: “We went up to the control room and we loaded one lorry and unloaded another through the computer system that controls the plant.
“He was very interested in that as well and wanted to know how long it would take and other various things.
“Finally we showed him inside one of the big silos. He wanted to know what all the bits were in there and how much it would hold and so on.”
Claxby farmer Andrew Lyle has been a member of Woldgrain for decades - and is excited about the expansion.
Mr Lyle, who supplies bread company Warburtons, said: “It will benefit me because it’s a cost effective way of storing grain.
“It makes you realise how special it is when the Duke is interested in it.
“It’s obviously a valuable part of the farming industry.”
Rosemary Cade, who owns Manor Farm at Osgodby, is also pleased with the new facilities.
She said: “My farm can’t cope with the pace of modern farming machinery so it’s good to have a facility like this.”
Frontier Agriculture, which has 20,000 tonnes of storage at Woldgrain, works with the farmer members to increase the opportunities for them to sell their crops to end consumers.
Frontier grain origination team leader Andrew Hill believes the developments will bring advantages to local farm businesses.
He said: “The most important thing about the investment at Woldgrain is that it helps growers in the region to add value to their crops, in a strategically placed location that is close to many consumer destinations.
“In an increasingly volatile market, adding value and having good access to markets is vital.”