Big grain yields are putting a strain on a lot of on-farm storage systems. Low crop prices, at the same time, are putting a strain on your capital purchase budget. If you're thinking about adding grain storage capacity in 2017, given the potential size of the new crop and what you have in storage, the folks at GSI have some ideas for managing that growth.
The company produced information recently that offers insight into the idea of "interim expansion" to meet the production challenges of 2017. Gary Woodruff, GSI conditioning applications manager, noted there are cost-effective strategies for adding capacity for this season in a way that would enable new grain handling, or storage equipment to be incorporated in a future new system on adjacent land.
Explained Woodruff: "A short-term, interim expansion this year can meet anticipated grain storage needs for 2017 more quickly, and at a significantly lower cost than planning and installing a completely new grain storage system — yet still provide the components of a future new system."
With careful planning and strategic choices in grain handling equipment, Woodruff said a storage or drying expansion now could become part of a later, larger system next to an outdated system. Here are some recommendations he offered:
• Adding bin capacity. If your site allows, you can add one or more storage bins next to existing storage facilities, and later those bins and a new driveway on the other side could be a start to a new, more efficient storage system. With extra storage, Woodruff noted, farmers can capture added income from the basis and carry of holding grain until spring or late summer. "Generally, a single larger bin has a lower cost per bushel than multiple smaller bins. However, smaller bins might be required if different crops need to be stored separately," he said.
• Grain handling. Moving grain around the operation — from dryer to bin, or from bin to bin — can be time-consuming with older equipment. Woodruff said conventional augers may have a lower cost, but have lower capacity and can cost more in maintenance. He added that a chain-drag conveyor would do the job and be higher-capacity, but can be expensive. He pointed to the GSI VersaLoop, which is a tube-chain conveyor that can span large distances without a support structure. And it can be expanded later if you grow your facility. He also noted that a pneumatic air system can be used to move grain past the reach of an existing leg, and can be moved and used in a future system.
• New dryer. A stackable, portable dryer may be a solid option, because drying capacity today can be expanded by 30% to 85% or more in the future with added modules.
The cost of this approach will vary by farm, Woodruff said. However, the two-step approach proposed here provides a lower upfront cost, and it's an investment "that will support a future new system," he said. You can learn more at grainsystems.com.