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grain bins and dryer Tom J. Bechman
ENERGY NEEDS: How much dryer fuel will you need this fall? If you dry using propane, you can estimate needs using a new grain drying calculator.

Simple grain drying calculator helps line up inputs

Hi-Tech Farming: Get a handle on one of your most expensive fall inputs in advance.

Not all technology you need to farm in the 21st century is complicated. A new grain drying calculator that estimates how many gallons of propane you’ll need to dry grain this fall is simple to use. You only need to know three things:

  1. how many acres of corn you’ll harvest to dry
  2. estimated yield per acre
  3. estimated points per bushel of moisture removal

Developed for the Propane Education and Research Council, find the calculator at By using the calculator and arriving at an estimate of propane needs, you can lay in adequate supplies early, perhaps saving money in the process, says Mike Newland, PERC’s director of ag business development.

Running numbers through the calculator is quite revealing. Suppose you’ll harvest 1,000 acres of corn and estimate yield at 205 bushels per acre. If you remove 5 points of moisture, that means you’ll need 20,500 gallons of propane, according to the calculator. If you must take off 7 points, like some people did a year ago after a very late planting start, gallons required climbs to 28,700. A few of you took off up to 10 points. That pushes the total to 41,000 gallons.

Here’s the good news: If you planted early and estimate you’ll only need to knock off 3 points of moisture per bushel, you can do it with 12,300 gallons. If you’re only drying down 2 points, you only need 8,200 gallons of propane.

Increase yields

Sulfur is getting a lot of play as a yield enhancer. However, Purdue University researchers of both corn and soybeans report sometimes they see very significant yield benefits, and sometimes they see no yield increase.

SUL4R-Plus LLC, Louisville, Ky., claims one of its products, SUL4R-Plus B+Z fertilizer, showed an average yield increase of 13 bushels per acre for corn compared to the grower standard in side-by-side tests in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Minnesota in 2019. Besides sulfur, the product contains boron, zinc and calcium.

In soybean side-by-side trials in Kentucky in 2019, the product bumped yields 9.8 bushels per acre versus the grower standard, which was 50 pounds of K-Mag per acre.

Learn more at

Believe in protein

Syngenta and Radicle Growth, an acceleration fund, have combined forces to offer $1.25 million to two companies that have novel ideas for commercializing new or experimental protein sources or developing protein conversion technologies. Startups and other companies submitted proposals. One company will receive $1 million and the other $250,000, plus access to expertise of both sponsors as they attempt to ramp up new technology.

Erik Fyrwald, CEO of Syngenta, says his company is excited because innovative protein sources are increasingly important for a growing population. Both Syngenta and Radicle are hoping the incentives they’re offering will result in creative ideas for bolstering protein sources.

Feed honeybees better

USDA Agricultural Research Service researchers in Louisiana believe microscopic algae could hold part of the answer to improving nutrition for honeybees. They contend that poor nutrition is one of the underlying causes of colony losses, because it amplifies the effects of parasites, pathogens and pesticides.

The microalgae, part of the blue-green algae family, has a nutritional profile that closely resembles pollen. The microalgae diet is currently under field testing.

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