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Corn+Soybean Digest

Online Resources Offer Heaps of Information On Grain Piling

Indiana farmers piled on the corn acreage this year and, come harvest, they might be piling much of the grain on the ground.

A Purdue University online resource can help producers with their outdoor storage decisions.

"If you're looking at putting a temporary outdoor pile structure together, whether it's round or rectangular or elongated, there's a spreadsheet that we call the Outdoor Pile Volume Calculator," said Dirk Maier, Purdue Extension agricultural engineer. "With the spreadsheet, you can calculate angles of repose, capacity calculations, the function of the
sidewalls and those types of things." The free spreadsheet is available at

Hoosier producers planted a record 6.6 million acres of corn this spring, a 20% jump from 2006 acreage, according to the Indiana Agricultural Statistics Service. High corn prices brought on by the rapid expansion of the ethanol industry drove the acreage jump.
Producers with empty farm buildings could convert them into makeshift grain bins, Maier said. Another free spreadsheet – the Dry Grain Aeration Systems Design Tool – provides valuable information. The spreadsheet is located at

"The spreadsheet tool allows you to design an aeration system for everything from a round storage structure all the way to flat storage buildings and outdoor systems," Maier said. "The spreadsheet goes with a handbook that's available from the MidWest Plan Service on aeration system design. All the calculations that are outlined in the book are programmed into the spreadsheet."

The handbook is part of a new grain handling reference library offered by the MidWest Plan Service. For more information or to order, visit the organization's Web site at

Regardless of whether they place their grain in buildings specifically designed for storage or in temporary storage facilities, farmers need to handle the grain properly, Maier said. He recommends producers follow a four-step process called S.L.A.M.

"We talk about four best management practices that we categorize under sanitation, loading, aeration and monitoring," Maier said.

"Sanitation refers to all of the preparation of the storage structures, making sure they are structurally sound, clean inside and out, and that they have all the necessary equipment such as aeration equipment and loading and unloading equipment in place and functional before we put any grain in the bin.

"As we get closer to harvest, we need to think of loading the grain into the bin. We don't want to allow the grain to just sit there but, instead, we want to core it and take the fine material and peak out."

Aeration involves cooling the grain when outdoor temperatures are 10-15 degrees cooler than the grain itself. Monitoring is important so that insects or grain spoilage can be detected before grain quality is lost.

Producers can learn more about S.L.A.M. by reading Purdue Extension publication ID-207, "Maximize Grain Quality and Profits Using S.L.A.M.: The Post-Harvest IPM Strategy," by Maier, Purdue entomologist Linda Mason and Purdue plant pathologist Charles Woloshuk. The publication is available online at

Additional grain handling tips are available at the Purdue Post-Harvest Grain Quality and Stored Product Protection Program Web site, located at
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