25 Aug 2016
by Dave Ahern

POSTED IN Grain management
POSTED IN harvest preparation



With harvest within weeks for much of the nation, it's a good time to turn focus to what happens to your grain after it comes out of the field. At IntelliFarms, we're passionate about smart grain storage, and our goal is to help farms see storage as a tool for saving money and even generating profit, rather than just being a capital expense. 

We offer some tips as you prepare to store grain this year:

  1. Establish a storage strategy. When are your delivery dates? How wet are you harvesting? Do you use a dryer? Are you planning to hold grain long-term into next spring or summer? Is your crop typically over-dry already by the time it gets to the bin? These are all questions you need to be asking yourself, as it will affect what type of bin you use to store and could make you take a second look at your fan configuration. If you're still constructing grain bins for this year, these considerations should factor into decisions about dimensions as well.

  2. Ensure you have the right amount of cfm. Drying grain requires 1-2 cfm per bushel. Aerating/cooling requires approximately 0.1 cfm per bushel. Not having enough fan power could limit your ability to deliver grain at optimum moisture by contract dates, and it could lead to issues in drying or cooling grain to safe storage conditions quickly enough to avoid mold and insect damage. Keep in mind that deeper grain depths and more compact-fill commodities (like wheat or sorghum) will require greater fan power to push drying fronts through the entire grain mass. IntelliFarms can provide consultation on this topic and can run models to help you discover optimal cfm for your storage needs.

  3. Consider supplemental heat. For those of you who have shorter drying days or higher-humidity climates, considering a heater for your bin may be beneficial. The purpose of the heater is to displace humidity, not create additional heat. In doing so, it can make what would normally be unproductive air productive toward drying down the grain. 

  4. Have a monitoring or management plan in place. Your entire year's worth of work could be in your grain bins. Why wait until it's time to empty it to see how you fared? Remote bin monitoring systems available today enable you to keep an eye on your bin conditions, often from anywhere in the world. With temperature and moisture cables in place, you can get a full picture of your grain bin, react to trouble spots, and get a better understanding of when your grain is ready to go to market. IntelliFarms always advises to tie cables down to the bin floor with a strong fishing line before loading grain in order to get the most accurate measurement. Also, automated systems like BinManager can help manage your grain by signaling fans and heaters to run, leading to cost and labor savings. 

  5. Clean, sanitize and repair the bin and electrical wiring. Before loading your grain in the bins, go down the checklist of cleaning out any debris in and around the bin and sanitizing it thoroughly. Inspect and repair any cracks in the foundation, sides, roof and vents. Also inspect and repair electrical equipment and wiring for corrosion, damage or exposed wires.

  6. Safety first. In 2014 and 2015, there was a combined 62 grain entrapments and 31 deaths. There have already been a few entrapments and deaths this year. IntelliFarms enforces and recommends a "zero entry" policy for bin management. Monitoring and management systems eliminate the need to manually probe the grain. Successful managing stored grain can reduce or eliminate crusting that prompts some people to enter bins. Have a rigid safety policy in place on your farm when it comes to your storage. Simply put, you can't put a price on a life. 

When crop prices are low, you can't afford to lose grain in storage. We hope that these tips will help you set up your bins for success this year. Contact IntelliFarms at any time to speak with one of our Grain Specialists about strategies for managing your stored grain and other commodities this year and beyond. IntelliFarms also offers monthly Grain School courses to dive deeper into the science and best practices of grain storage management. Register for upcoming sessions here.