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Grain Bin Maintenance
|Before grain harvests begin, it is critically
important to check the condition of harvest equipment and bins before
bringing in the crop.
"Your grain crop is a major investment that needs to be protected,"
says University of Nebraska agricultural engineering specialist David
Shelton. "Grain quality does not improve in storage. At best, the
initial quality can only be maintained. If you take the extra time to
make sure conditions are good for storing grain, then you are
protecting that investment."
Proper storage begins with the condition of the harvested grain,
including moisture level and how it leaves the combine and then is
transported and handled.
should thoroughly clean their equipment and make adjustments to
minimize grain damage and maximize the removal of foreign materials.
"So many of our insect and other problems in storage are the result of
damaged grain," Shelton said. "Producers need to minimize the amount of
grain that is cracked during combining and handling. Proper adjustments
and management, such as combine adjustments and making sure transfer
augers run at full capacity, help reduce damage and make grain more
He said grain
carts, augers, trucks, combines and other harvest equipment should be
free of all traces of old grain. "That grain left over
from last season can be a source for mold or insect infestation,"
Shelton said. "Over time even a small amount of insect eggs or mold
spores can contaminate a full bin of grain, especially if the grain is
a little on the wet and warm side."
Grain bins also should receive a thorough checkup and cleaning,
including removal of all old grain. Never mix new and old grain. You
can keep and manage old grain, but it should be kept in a separate
storage bin. There is a high risk for insect development over time.
It's unusual for major insect infestation in the first year, but after
that the risk goes up dramatically.
grain should be stored in several small bins rather than a few large
ones. Smaller bins provide for better management, giving
producers more options for moving and storing grain, and if one bin
goes bad, the loss is not as great.
After removing the old grain, it is particularly important to check under
the perforated floors for accumulations of broken kernels and other
materials that can be a breeding ground for insects and mold.
A few simple tools such as brooms, shovels, and a good shop vacuum are
effective in cleaning equipment and bins, and a high pressure air hose
can be used for those hard-to-reach spots.
Shelton discourages the use of power washers on bins and harvest
equipment because they can create moisture and corrosion problems.
bin floors should be removed for cleaning. If that is not
possible, and there is evidence of insect activity, the empty bin
should be treated or fumigated before filling. This should be done as
early as possible, because some chemicals require a waiting period of
up to two weeks after application before adding grain.
"It is absolutely essential that applicators follow the label on these
chemicals," Shelton said. "Only a very few are appropriate for
soybeans. Most are labeled specifically for corn or sorghum. With
improper use you run the risk of contamination of food materials as
well as the loss of time and money."
Checking around the bin site is also an important step before harvest. Remove
spilled grain and other debris such as old boards or tall grass that
might provide hiding areas for rodents and insects.
Bin foundations should be inspected for cracks or other structural
problems. Anchor bolts should be tightened, and any gaps that could
provide entry for rodents or insects should be sealed. Electrical
wiring should also be checked for wear, and all wiring at entry and
exit points should be sealed against weather and pests.
fans, heaters, transitions, and ducts for corrosion and damage.
Remove any accumulated dust and dirt. Be sure all joints in the
duct-work are tight; otherwise the aeration or drying air
will short-circuit, reducing the operating efficiency.
Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Grain Bin Level Monitor