Why Grain Bin Monitoring Methods Matter To Farmers

The granary of the mid-western United States is impressive. During summer months, fields of corn, wheat, soybeans and other cash crops stretch for miles, ready to produce the highest yields of any agricultural area on the planet. Storing this bounty allows farmers to market it throughout the year, but maintaining that harvested product requires diligent oversight. Modern grain bin monitoring helps provide farmers with the most up-to-date information.

Landscape painters often choose to portray a quaint old red barn next to a silo. Although city residents understand the function of a silo, they probably are not really aware that modern commercial farming businesses store their crops in common centralized bins, or in huge on-site containers. These structures are far larger than a traditional-looking silo, and can make monitoring more complex, and occasionally even physically perilous.

Small farmers traditionally used their own senses and experience to help maintain long-term storage quality. While instinctive analysis still has its place in modern farming, accurately determining the moisture content of a 130,000 bushel storage unit is really only possible using modern technology, and is also far safer. Moist corn can develop a hard, crusty top layer as it is unloaded and stored, preventing free flow.

In order to destroy that crust, farmers used to literally walk on top of the solid layer to crack it, risking a serious accident in the process. Many workers have been buried, suffocating under an unexpected avalanche of corn or wheat. Mechanized monitors reduce or eliminate that risk, and also provide accurate readings whenever needed. Although already harvested, the seeds are still active biologically, and cause variations in temperature.

Stored organic material is also an excellent insulator, and undisturbed piles may develop slow-moving convection air currents that encourage condensation and hot spots. If that cycle is not interrupted, mold, fungus and insect populations explode, ruining the crop. Part of the solution involves the process of aeration, which works as its name indicates, by forcing cooler and drier air upward, interrupting condensation.

Technology-based sensors are another weapon useful in fighting storage wars. In the past, small farmers relied on their own guesswork to gauge the extent of shrinking and spoilage. Partially as a result of ethanol crop production, the need for huge, farm-based bins has grown, making precise and reliable methods of control far more important. Although there has been some initial resistance, installation is increasing.

Electronic management systems have become a practical and integral part of the agricultural bottom line. Consisting of multiple moisture and temperature sensors placed strategically at different levels, each monitor produces constant data that is fed into an individual bin controller. Based on the data received, that device is then capable of controlling building fans and heat when necessary, reducing moisture.

Information is sent via local network or Internet, and satellite and cloud services are also available. Although a large-scale installation can be costly, the results it produces can create even larger savings over time. Farmers known for consistently high-quality grain are able to ask for and get the highest prices for their goods. The cost of labor is reduced, and routine spoilage and loss become less common.

Read more about Grain Bin Monitoring Is The Key To Successful Storage.

Leave a Reply