Why Grain Storage Management Matters

Growers invest a lot to produce a crop, from before the seed hits the ground through to harvest, yet still run the risk of shrinkage or over-drying during storage. Of the 20+ billion bushels of US on-farm storage, less than 10% is equipped with monitoring. That leaves a lot of hard work and investment at risk from shrink, spoilage, and lower market value. With all the investment and technology that goes into producing a crop, why stop short when the grain hits the bin?

Follow this 4-step program to ensure a positive result from your storage program;

  1. Sanitation

Storage pests typically don’t arrive with freshly harvested crops. They often fly in through openings in the bin, being attracted to the smell of the outer grain surfaces. But they may also be there in waiting if bins haven’t been sufficiently cleaned. It’s therefore important to remove all grain residues prior to binning, including the underside of aeration floors.

 

  1. Loading

Ideally, you want to load the bin with clean grain of sound quality. It’s also best to use a spreader, which will both level the grain and distribute denser material that will otherwise form a dense core up through the middle of the bin. Because airflow always takes the path of least resistance, peaked grain or a dense core will result in the majority of air finding it’s way up through the outer edges, leaving the center vulnerable to heating and spoilage.

 

  1. Aeration

It’s important to match conditioning expectation to the capabilities and limitations of the aeration system. The following chart shows the airflow required to achieve varying levels of grain conditioning, from in-bin natural air drying through to conditioning and maintenance. You can calculate airflow using a tool such as the FANS program. Alternatively, an anemometer can be used to get a truer indication of actual airflow across the bin.

 

  1. Grain Management

Aeration is of limited value without consideration to air quality. This means aerating when the air temperature and relative humidity will drive toward the target objective. The following corn and bean charts show that you need to store grain at lower moisture levels when temperatures are high. Conversely, grain can be stored more safely at higher moistures when grain is stored at lower temperatures. Consideration should also be given to an automated control system, such as OPI-Blue or IntegrisPro, to hit specific quality targets. And an effective monitoring system should be employed to safeguard against potential heating, and subsequent spoilage.