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Safety matters when buying grain equipment

Think about safety features when shopping for dryers, bins and grain handling equipment.

Tom J. Bechman, Midwest Crops Editor

June 11, 2024

4 Min Read
A screen displaying Superior Grain Equipment's Block Buster auger
BLOCK BUSTER: Superior Grain Equipment introduced this product a few years ago, and it continues to be popular. If clogs develop over the center grate, like balls of condensed grain, engaging the Block Buster auger breaks up the clogs.Photos by Tom J. Bechman

No one can remove all risk from farming. But many people have developed innovations and procedures that make farming safer. It’s up to you to use safety devices and practices that minimize the chance of accidents on your farm.

Innovations for safety’s sake in the grain handling industry have made a difference. From tools that minimize the temptation to go inside a bin with grain inside to safer stairs and catwalks to nearly foolproof grain bin doors, newer installations are safer today. That’s true if you practice safety as well!

Safety innovations

Here are three products observed at recent farm shows that remove some risk from working around grain:

Superior Grain Block Buster. Superior Grain Equipment introduced the Block Buster auger as an option on grain sweeps several years ago. The product is often featured at farm shows. One of the leading causes that tempts farmers to climb into grain bins is when grain stops flowing. Often, that happens when clumps or balls of grain, formed when moisture condenses, become wedged over the center opening of the bin where grain feeds into the unloading auger.

Spokespersons who demonstrate the feature on a mock-up at farm shows explain that the Block Buster is a short section of auger on the end of the grain sweep, nearest the gearbox. During normal operation, it’s not engaged. The only time it’s needed is when there is a clog.

Related:So, you want to build a grain bin?

If a clog happens, engage the Block Buster from outside the bin using a lever; follow the instructions printed near the lever. Once engaged, the small section of auger reverses and grinds up the clog or clump, allowing grain to flow again.

A demonstration of Block Buster grain sweep auger engaging when there is a clog

This unit fits on most Superior grain sweeps. The gearbox has been beefed up since initial introduction. Learn more at superiorbins.com.

Greene Galvanized Stairs. One company within the grain industry specializes in stairs, ladders, platforms and all things safety for any bin setup. If it concerns climbing up or walking around bins and makes things safer, Greene Galvanized Stairs, East Lynn, Ill., likely makes it.

Spokespersons note that gates for some of their newer products, called A-Series gates, are available for multiple configurations, maximizing your safety options.

For sidewall safety, the A-Series Sidewall Gate comes with a mount and latch and is lockable to keep unauthorized personnel off your bin. When working on the bin roof, the A-Series Self Closing Gate uses a magnet to close securely behind you.

Platform for a grain bin from Greene Galvanized Stairs

Both gate options come in your choice of galvanized or painted yellow. A yellow gate is shown attached to the platform pictured above. For details, visit greenestairs.com.

Brock Latch-Lock Walk-Through Bin Door. Bin accessories like Brock’s Latch-Lock Walk-Through Bin Door make grain storage more manageable and safer. The one-piece outer door opens wide and latches securely to the side of the bin. The inside door consists of four interlocking panels. They open from top to bottom in sequence with a simple lift. You don’t need tools to open the panels.

Brock Latch-Lock on a grain bin door

Safety is built into this door system in two ways. First, there is no risk of grain avalanching down when you open the outside door. Second, when working inside an empty bin, there is no danger of locking yourself inside. The outer door only locks from the outside. See brockgrain.com.

About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Midwest Crops Editor, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman became the Midwest Crops editor at Farm Progress in 2024 after serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer for 23 years. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

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