Last year’s growing schedule wasn’t exactly normal. Many farmers had to delay planting due to the early floods and saw harvests pushed back almost into November. As a result, we ended up with wet grain going into storage. Typically, I leave the crop out in the field to dry for a time, but with the threat of frost, that wasn’t an option. This created an issue, as it meant the possibility of grain going out of condition was stronger than ever…unless you were able to monitor grain remotely.
As Purdue University explains in a 2018 report, “more dried grain goes out of condition because temperatures are not controlled than for any other reason.” A combination of changing temperatures and wet grain can cause moisture to accumulate and lead to rot. In other words, you have to control the crop’s temperature if you want it to stay in condition.
How Has Your Stored Grain Fared?
Now here we are, several months later. What does that wet grain you put into storage look like? Did it heat up and develop mold? Have you been out to the bin to check? I understand if that’s how you traditionally do things, but I’d like to offer an alternative. Sure, you can keep fans constantly going and walk out there every week to inspect the crop, but that becomes a drain on the wallet when the energy bill comes due. I’ve talked before about the need to monitor grain. All I’m suggesting here is a change to remote monitoring.
If You Can Smell Rot, It’s Too Late
The biggest argument I hear against monitoring grain remotely comes from other farmers. They say it’s not needed. After all, they can smell mold and rot when it happens. But that’s both the point and the problem. By the time you smell mold, it’s too late to save the whole crop.
Purdue University’s Cooperative Extension estimates that on average, farmers throw out between 500 and 1,000 bushels of stored grain each year due to rot. That’s a lot of money wasted.
With more than one million bushels often in storage, we can’t see what’s going on inside the bins. I would compare the smell test to a fire alarm. Would you prefer to know as soon as the fire starts in your attic or wait until the smoke reaches multiple parts of the house? With the smell test, you have just enough time to react. Is that enough?
Can Real-Time Grain Monitoring Help?
And then there’s the moisture problem. According to Purdue’s grain storage study, in order to protect the crop, maximum moisture needs to be no more than 15 percent. That’s at the high end, for a farmer expecting to sell by spring. If you expect to keep the grain in storage for months or possibly up to a year, the percentage drops to 12. The point here is that the moisture and overall conditions must be constantly monitored. It’s not enough to walk out once a week for a sight inspection. Any drop in grain quality means a decline in profits.
Temperature Cables Offer Solution
Roughly 10 to 20 years ago, farmers used elevator operators to turn grain from bin to bin. It leveled the temperatures, cooled the grain and blended the mass. But there were problems with this concept. First, it damaged a significant amount of grain. Second, it required a significant amount of time and labor.
Now storage is controlled through aeration, but control is more important than ever. If you want grain to remain in condition, its temperature has to stay within 15 to 20 degrees of the weather outside. If it’s 35 outside, grain temperatures need to reflect that. Automation helps handle that process, particularly monitoring grain remotely.
In a situation like this, it’s important to have all the data available at one time. Temperature cables can help with that, after being installed in all of your farm’s bins. They constantly monitor the bins and when you monitor grain remotely they send that data to a computer server. All it takes is a computer, tablet or smartphone to log in and check the reports. That data also shows information from weeks and months before. You can identify trends and flag concerns.
Data Immediacy of Remote Grain Monitoring
A remote system helps you understand when to turn fans on or off. This is key for two reasons. First, a small-sized fan can take almost a week to fully cool one bin. While this is happening, moisture doesn’t stop spreading. You need immediate information to keep everything in balance. Second, it affects revenue. If you leave fans running constantly, that not only drives up the power bill, but it can damage the grain. The cables serve as a simple solution for both problems.
Avoid the Catch-22 of stored grain that is too wet or too dry. These assets deserve to be protected and you don’t have to settle for massive waste or mediocre prices for mediocre quality grain. Call us at 1-800-438-8367, contact us here or live chat to get the information you need to immediately monitor grain remotely.