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Word Is Out: Practice Grain Bin Safety

Word Is Out: Practice Grain Bin Safety
Warm weather likely to bring more storage problems to light.

One farmer says he already knows where is a bin of corn filled to the top supporting green growth that looks like a lawn on top. Of course whenever we hear a story, it's the neighbor's bin or the farmer in the next county. The truth is that as spring brings temperature spikes and temperature warm up over time, the grain in many bins will be in trouble.

Richard Stroshine, Purdue University grain quality specialist, says that grain that didn't get dried below 19% for whatever reason, and that was infected with ear rot fungi before being placed in storage, likely has more damaged kernels and more toxins now. About 19% seems to be the point at which these fungi stop to grow, he notes. However, there are other pests that grow until the moisture is dropped to 15% or so.

Many consultants are now saying check your bins even more than once a week as it warms up. Make sure you know what you have in the bin. If you have temperature cables in place, check them. However Stroshine says you can still have problems between cables even if the cable sensor shows no problems. Unless the sensors are very close together in the grain pile, a hot spot could develop between cable sensors that the units don't pick up.

The second half of this dilemma- deteriorating quality of grain stored in bins, - may be the most critical, and ultimately, most tragic. Safety specialists fear farmers will be tempted to enter bins with unloading equipment on and take risks trying to get spoiled grain out of the grain tank.

Grain bin safety rules must apply in every instance, specialists say. Never enter a bin without someone on the outside at top that can relay contact with you. If you are alone, lock out the electric motor of the grain unloading auger before you enter the bin.

Tie yourself off using a strong rope, and carry a walkie-talkie. However, it's been proven that these won't prevent tragedy is someone is caught in a powerful downdraft of grain.

Besides avoiding entrapment, also consider protecting yourself against breathing molds and mold spores. You will need more than a paper mask to adequately remove this threat. It may be time to invest in a respiration device that you could wear in other types of situations.

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