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Grain bin on-farm storage

Grain dryer upgrade gets family ready for corn harvest

They doubled their grain dryer capacity to improve efficiency.

A grain dryer and grain handling upgrade made a big difference in how smoothly corn harvest goes for Todd, Wade and Wayne Heinrich.

Brothers Wade and Todd farm with their father, Wayne, near Dickey in south-central North Dakota. They raise corn and soybeans. They usually haul soybeans to town at harvest and dry and store their corn on the farm for later delivery to ethanol plants and other markets.

Two years ago, the Heinrichs replaced a 20-year-old Farm Fans dryer with a new 2420 stacked dryer from Grain Systems Inc. The old dryer could dry about 840 bushels of corn an hour, depending on the corn moisture level. The GSI 2420 is rated for about 2,010 bushels per hour.

The Heinrichs increased the size of their wet bin conveyor, too, to keep up with the capacity of the new dryer.

Because Todd, Wayne and Wade each farm separately, they have multiple wet bins so they can keep corn from different fields separate during the drying process. With multiple wet bins, they also can separate corn coming in from the field at significantly different moisture levels

“If one field is at 19% and then we move to a field that is at 25%, we can keep them separate so we can watch the drying system and make sure that it adjusts correctly,” Todd says.

They also increased the size of the pneumatic air handling system from a 5-inch-diameter tube to a 6-inch-diameter tube. The air system moves grain from the dryer to the storage bins. They had considered installing a grain leg, but the pneumatic system was a fraction of the cost. The pneumatic system also gave them more options on where to erect new bins in the future. The system has a “surge” tank that allows it to always run at full capacity, which reduces handling damage to the corn kernels. The surge tank is filled by a conveyor at the outlet of the dryer, and then level switches on the tank automatically turn the pneumatic system on and off to make sure it runs at full capacity all the time.

Kramp Construction, Brentford, S.D., was their contractor.

As a result of the upgrade, the Heinrichs are better able to keep up with the capacity of their New Holland CR 9070 combine. They don’t have to run the dryer all night, either. They don’t like to leave the dryer unattended at night due to the risk of fire and breakdowns. The new dryer and grain handling system is fully automated, and they can leave it for short periods of time without worrying about it. It also can be monitored remotely over the internet, a feature that Todd especially likes because he works full time off the farm with CNH Industrial and is responsible for product testing of the crop production equipment and precision farm and telematics systems.

Upgrading their dryer has helped the Heinrichs increase their corn quality. One of the features of the new stacked dryer is a patented grain inverter. Halfway through the drying process, the grain is rotated from the inside to the outside of the drying column, redistributing the heat to increase drying efficiency. The same corn kernels aren’t next to the heat source during the entire drying period.

It’s a lot easier to work around the new pneumatic system, too, says Wayne, who handles most of the grain drying chores. Kramp Construction recommended installing silencers on the system’s air intake and exhaust. Their old air system didn’t have silencers.

“It runs a lot quieter,” Wayne says.

Sizing the dryer
To figure out what size dryer to purchase, the Heinrichs first determined how many hours per day they wanted to run the combine (an average of 10) and how long they wanted to run the dryer each day (an average of 14 hours). They took into account that they cooled the grain in the dryer. When harvesting corn late in the year, they don’t like to dump corn hot into a bin and cool it with fans. Sometimes the bin walls will be so cold that the corn will stick to them, and the water runs down the sides of the bin as the corn is cooling. They projected an increase in their yields and acres over the course of the 20- to 30-year life of the dryer.

“The GSI dryer is modular, which is a plus,” Todd says. “We can increase the capacity by a third by stacking another unit on top of the existing ones.”

The Heinrichs figure they won’t have to upgrade the grain dryer and/or handling equipment anytime soon.

“We are pretty well set,” Todd says. “We are good to go.”

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