Receiving a different harvest
In mid-August, just as the intensive work on harvest reception is starting up, we get in touch with Ann-Sofi Karlsson, Operations Manager Grain, from her office for the day – the car. Ann-Sofi has a hectic time between her grain plants Borlänge, Hedemora, Härvesta, Umeå, Kungsängen, Vendel and Hargshamn.
We get a chat about Hargshamn where the trucks have just started to roll in, and a queue has formed. The harvest reception has just started, and Ann-Sofi says that they have received about seven percent of the estimated forecast for this year's harvest. At Hargshamn, which is a so-called main plant, i.e. a facility that is either adjacent to the consumption of grain or has export opportunities, the harvest reception usually lasts for about 4-6 weeks. Ann-Sofi says that the harvest will certainly continue well into the autumn as this year is a very special year, with drought followed by large amounts of rain. When it rains as much as this year, it can be difficult for the farmer to bring out the heavy agricultural machinery as the ground has to bear that heavy weight. The grain may also be too wet. For the farmer, wet grain also means extra costs as it costs to dry the grain.
“We have already seen high water levels this year. Optimally, the grain moisture content is about 14 per cent, but now it has been up to 20 per cent in some batches”, says Ann-Sofi.
Hargshamn is open around the clock, between 06.00 to 24.00 for external suppliers and between 24.00-06.00 for internal deliveries between Lantmännen's different plants. Ann-Sofi goes on to say that the plant only accepts wheat, that they sort according to qualities and needs to be processed to flour, feed and, new for this year, gluten wheat which will then be delivered to Agroetanol.
Every day, about 100-150 trucks, and a few tractors, are expected to come to deliver their grain. No appointment is required, the trucks roll in as they arrive. However, the farmer must have provided a delivery declaration in advance with all the information on what he or she delivers.
“A truck comes in and rolls up on a large scale where we have a weight capacity of up to one hundred tons. While on the scale, a representative sample of the grain is taken through a spear-like object (Rakoraf). Through this, pre-sorting and analysis of water content is carried out to determine how urgent it is to start drying, as well as the protein content, which should preferably be 11 percent. The protein content is an indicator of whether the wheat should go to feed or to the mill to be ground into flour. The analysis also determines the baking qualities of the wheat”, she explains.
In addition to the tests and analyzes that are done initially, samples are also sent to a laboratory in Helsingborg, one of thirteen accredited laboratorios in Sweden, to more accurately determine the qualities that lay grounds for the farmers' final payment for their grain.
“The weights are usually ready when the farmer leaves the scale, and the quick analyses give the farmer a finger idea of the qualities and decide where they should tip. Most of the time, they tip on a plate of 10,000 square meters divided into the different qualities. In addition to the slab, there is also a tipping pit”, Ann-Sofi continues.
On the plates, the grain is laid like pyramids so that the water can easily drain in case of precipitation.
“Actually, it makes no difference whether the grain is out in the field or on the plate, but many who are not into farming often react to the grain lying out in piles. But it is perfectly fine, and the farmers can come and drop off grain even when it rains”, Ann-Sofi continues.
When the grain then enters the plant, it goes through a magnet and then on into a cleaning machine. In two wet-silos, the grain is collected into larger quantities before it then goes on to the dryer. In a new drying plant that was inaugurated in 2019, the goal is to bring the water content down to the target of 13.8 percent. A slightly higher number goes well for feed wheat.
After that, the grain goes on to silo containers or to a flat warehouse while waiting for the end customer. In total, Hargshamn has a storage capacity of 50,000 tonnes of grain.
Ahead of the hectic harvest reception period, Ann-Sofi and her process operator Gustav Ehn have worked intensively to train the reception staff of 12 people so that everything should run as smoothly as possible when the farmers' trucks roll in.
"It's so cool to once again be up and running with harvest reception and staggering to think that next year's harvest coincides with my own 25th anniversary at Lantmännen. I really have a fantastic job, Ann-Sofi concludes.
Years at Lantmännen: 24 years! I am a "farmer's daughter" and started vacuuming seed in the silo in Uppsala. I have no agronomist education or so but stayed because it was so damn fun. I am passionate about what I do and after a few years I became responsible for the silo. Today I am Operations Manager Grain with responsibility for multiple grain plants and with Hargshamn as my main base.
Best thing about Lantmännen: That it is varied – no two years are the same and that makes it exciting all the time. I love the contact with the suppliers and taking care of staff. Over the years, I have also become quite confident in my role, which is nice.
Favorite product from Lantmännen's range: Wheat flour is the best! It is possible to do so much of it and I hold it really close to my heart.
Career tip: Be yourself, responsive and humble.