Simple changes can improve grain system

Did your grain storage system do everything you wanted this fall? Could you keep the combine running? Did you have enough wet storage capacity? Are your bins set up with aeration fans to allow you to dump hot and cool in a bin? Is your system sized right for your operation?

Now is the time to ask and answer questions about your grain system, while harvest is fresh on your mind, experts say. Where were the bottlenecks? Could you eliminate one or more with a meager investment? Maybe you just need to add more wet storage. Or if you’ve relied on in-bin heating, maybe falls like 2011 with wet corn have convinced you it’s time to go a different direction.

Key Points

Assess your grain system pluses and minuses now while harvest is fresh.

Tackle improvements that eliminate your biggest bottlenecks.

Grain systems can be simple and still meet your needs.


The first step is assessing where you are, where you would like to be, and how much it would cost to get there. Then determine which changes you can afford to make. Start with the biggest bottlenecks.

Install dryer

Until three years ago, Jeremy Lane, Wilkinson, relied on in-bin drying. He decided it was simply too slow and left him waiting on corn to dry instead of harvesting. So he made two moves. He purchased a used, continuous flow dryer, and built a 5,000-bushel bin for wet storage for the dryer. Since he had in-bin storage before, he didn’t have wet storage capacity.

This fall it made a world of difference, Lane says. “We had a considerable amount of corn planted in June because it was wet last spring,” he notes. “So while yields were somewhat better than expected, the corn was wet. Having the bin and dryer made it workable.”

The M-C dryer is equipped so that it can run unattended. While some companies now offer watchdog systems that let you put your controls on the Internet, and then alert you if there is a problem, so far Lane has relied on checking the dryer periodically. His house is nearby, and if it shuts down, he can usually hear it. That helps him keep his system low-budget and economical, while still allowing him to get his corn dried.

Dump hot

Having the original bin where he once dried inside the bin proved to be an advantage since it was equipped with a high-volume aeration fan, Lane notes. It allows him to dump hot out of the dryer at 17%, then go into the aeration bin. To keep tabs on the dryer and monitor moisture going into the bin, each time he pulls corn off the truck to check moisture on a new load coming in, he pulls a sample coming out of the dryer.

An air system moves grain from the dryer to the bin, he notes. While it’s a simple air system, it’s much better than moving it by augers, and it eliminates the need for a leg. It helps him keep his system simple.

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Simple steps: Jeremy Lane improved his grain handling capability by building what he needed, but not more than was necessary.

This article published in the January, 2012 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.