High Tech Grain Bins May Hold Big Value
High tech grain storage is often overlooked. Higher yields in the field are worthless if that gain is lost post-harvest to spoilage and economic gains are lost if grain cannot be properly stored in order to hedge market prices. Too much moisture can cause mold, while too little can cause grain to lose too much weight and therefore, value.
Researcher, Kendall Kirk of Clemson University, with the support of the South Carolina’s state Legislature, is researching the use of automated grain bin technology that monitors bin temperature, humidity and other factors that contribute to the loss of grain value, while also reducing the need for farmers to enter bins to identify problems, reducing the occurrence of accidents.
Farmers can remotely turn on fans in their grain bins if temperature or humidity climb too high, but the automated system will also be able to detect a drop in overnight humidity and will turn off the fans to prevent over-drying and then restart the ventilation system again once conditions call for it.
In 2012, farmers in South Carolina sold $500 million in corn, wheat, soybeans and sorghum, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and although climate conditions in the Southeast call for the use of automated bin technology, and 85% of grain farmers in the region store grain on-farm, only 5% of grain famers currently utilize the technology.