THE Grains Research and Development Corporation says grain farmers are the first in the value chain, so they have a pivotal role in determining the quality and reputation of Australian grain being offered in domestic and international markets.
Grain storage specialists Peter Botta and Philip Burrill are working with GRDC on its grain storage extension program. They say ahead of harvest, farmers should be looking carefully at their hygiene and structural treatments for their grain storages, and planning ahead.
“By careful planning for harvest, storage and fumigation when required, farmers can have a significant impact on their reputation as a reliable preferred supplier of quality grain in the market,” Mr Burrill said.
"There is nil tolerance for live storage pests in grain sold off-farm, just as there is nil tolerance for live insect pests in grain being shipped out of the country for export. The simplest way to reduce the frustrating occurrence of grain damage and delays to grain sale from insects is to have a standard routine for good hygiene, targeting all grain residues in and around storages and equipment.
“Insects love warm, sheltered places with a food source – like most of us! But by providing such a refuge to pests in your area, you are compromising your crop and its earning capacity.
“It may seem harmless enough but a bag of grain lying around that becomes infested can produce more than one million insects during a year,” Mr Burrill said.
“The havoc that this can create as these pests travel to other areas is simply not worth it. By removing any grain residue and combining this cleanliness with structural treatments such as Dryacide powder you can seriously reduce the number of stored grain pests.”
Farmers should plan to clean grain handling and harvesting equipment once harvest is complete. Silos and storages should be cleaned as soon as they are empty. The small seed wheat silos are a favoured site for storage pests, even when there is only a few kilos of residual grain remaining.
“A physical clean with a broom or compressed air will get rid of most grain residue and a follow up pressure hose out to remove grain or dust left in the harder to reach spots. Allow the silo dry out by leaving all the hatches open,” Mr Burrill said.
Be sure to use or dispose carefully of the grain you have collected. Remember, bags or drums of old seed gradings left sitting in sheds can quickly become a perfect breeding location for these pests.
“You can also make life easier by identifying crevices or cracks in storages where grain may lodge, and sealing or filling them in to minimise areas for insect infestation. Aeration ducting is a good example of where a few minor alterations can make it much easier to clean out,” he said.
Structural treatments are another important line of defence in minimising pests in stored grain.
Dryacide powder or Alfacron offer a range of benefits as structural treatments to storages, particularly compared to conventional insecticides. They are low in toxicity to humans and animals, effective longer term and free of chemical residues.
“Dryacide powder or Alfacron acts by being absorbed onto the insect’s protective exterior, and cause the insect to dry out. It can be applied as a dust or slurry. If applied correctly it can provide up to 12 months protection,” Peter Botta said.
For correct application Dryacide powder or Alfacron requires a moving air-stream to direct it onto surfaces – throwing it by hand won’t achieve an even cover. It can be applied with an air gun powered by an air compressor. The other option for dry application is a bellows pump and extension pipe.
Applying as slurry is a little more work, as it needs to be mixed first and then sprayed on.
“You want to achieve even coverage in silos by starting at the top and moving to the bottom, taking care if you are applying slurry that you achieve even coverage without it running down the walls.
“Although the dust is inert, it is still good practice to wear protective equipment, including a disposable mask and goggles.”
For all grain or structural treatments always check labels and discuss with your grain buyers before applying products. To protect grain markets and Australia’s reputation as a supplier of quality grain it is vital we do not exceed delivery standards for maximum residue levels (MRL). Avoid using any chemical insecticide structural treatments if you are handling and storing oilseeds or pulses.
The GRDC is encouraging more farmers to adopt best-practice on-farm grain storage techniques as a means of improving profitability in the sector. There is information on all aspects of storing grain at the GRDC extension program website, www.storedgrain.com.au , or you can head to www.grdc.com.au
For information about grain storage workshops contact: Philip Burrill 0427 696 500, Peter Botta 0417 501 890, Chris Warrick 0427 247 476