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Grain being loaded into bag
BAGGED UP: Grain is being loaded into storage barns near Harwood, N.D.

Top things to know about storing grain in buildings, bags, piles

Bins aren't the only grain storage option, but there are extra challenges and management requirements.

You can successfully store grain in buildings, bags and piles. But each poses its own special challenges. Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University Extension agriculture engineer, lists the top things to know about each grain storage method:

Grain pushing against walls can damage buildings not built for grain storage. The wall must be anchored securely, and its structural members must be strong enough to transfer the force to the building poles or support structure without breaking or excessive bending. "Typically, you’ll need additional poles and a grain wall to support the grain force in a pole building," Hellevang says. "Hire an engineer to complete a structural analysis, or have a contractor follow exactly the building company recommendations to prevent a structural failure."

Monitor the bags for damage. Wildlife can puncture the bags and allow moisture in. This can lead to spoilage and the grain smell being released, which attracts more wildlife. Monitor the grain temperature at several places in the bags. Never enter a grain bag because it is a suffocation hazard. If unloading the bag with a pneumatic grain conveyor, the suction can "shrink wrap" a person.

If you plan to store for any length of time, piles need to be covered. A 1-inch rain will increase the moisture content of a 1-foot layer of corn by 9 percentage points. This typically leads to the loss of at least a couple of feet of grain on the pile surface, which is a huge loss. For example, a cone-shaped pile 25 feet high contains approximately 59,000 bushels of grain. Losing just 1 foot of grain on the surface is a loss of about 13% of the grain, which is $39,000 if the grain value is $4 per bushel and $78,000 at $8 per bushel. Aeration and wind blowing on the pile will not dry wet grain adequately to prevent spoilage.

Drainage is critical, too. About 25,000 gallons of water will run off an area about 100 by 400 feet during a 1-inch rain. This water must flow away from the grain and the area next to it. The outdoor ground surface where grain will be piled should be prepared to limit soil moisture from reaching the grain. The storage floor also should be higher than the surrounding ground to minimize moisture transfer from the soil into the grain. Make sure the ground surface is crowned so moisture drains out and away rather than creating a wet pocket that leads to grain deterioration.

A combination of restraining straps and suction from the aeration system is needed to hold grain covers in place over piles. Also provide adequate airflow through the grain to control grain temperature. Place perforated ducts on the grain under the cover to provide a controlled air intake for the aeration system and airflow near the cover to minimize condensation problems under the cover.

Place properly sized and spaced ducts under the pile on the ground to pull air through the grain. Some storage options use a perforated wall for the air inlet. Minimize the amount of open area so the air does not "short-circuit" to the fan.

Wind velocity determines the amount of suction you need to hold the cover down. Some control systems measure wind velocity and start fans based on the wind speed. Backup power can hold the cover down during power outages. Make sure the backup power starts when needed.

Source: NDSU Extension Service

TAGS: Storage
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