TAKING off quality grain at harvest should be like putting milk in the fridge.
It's a temperature thing.
And, according to DE Engineers principal Kevin Prater, an increasing number of his customers are opting to include the company's Safe Grain 8 controller with their silo purchases.
"Bigger headers taking off grain faster has placed a focus on harvest efficiency and grain storage," Mr Prater said.
"And we're finding increasing orders for 100 and 150 tonne capacity silos, not just from farmers planning on-farm storage, but also from those wanting to increase their temporary grain storage capacity for more efficient use of road trains carting to CBH bins."
"Either way, the basic plan is to store grain at the right temperature, keep weevils at bay and solve the dampness problem so the grain can command the best price and the seed grain can be kept in good condition for the next seeding season."
DE's initial strategy in developing the Safe Grain 8 controller aimed for "cool, dry grain" in-storage.
The Safe Grain 8 controller includes temperature and humidity sensors to take ambient outside readings.
It runs continuously for between 24 and 72 hours when first installed, reverting to 10 hour runs for the following three to five days in the cooler part of the day.
It then selects the three coolest hours to run at night to optimise the introduction of the coolest air into the grain.
This becomes an as-required maintenance run until any adjustments are made.
In one of DE's in-house trials, eight tonnes of barley was stored straight off the crop with an initial temperature of 34 degrees Celsius which was brought down to 25oC overnight, then down to between 15-17oC through the hotter months and about 15oC through winter.
It also measured the temperature in the roof space on a 35oC day, which was 55oC.
According to Mr Prater, GRDC studies have shown that the two most common, serious threats to grain quality in Australian silos are insect pest infestations and grain moisture problems causing mould and fungal growth.
A Kondinin Group correlation of grain temperature to insect and mould development shows that between 44-55oC seed damage occurs, reducing viability.
At 30-40oC mould and insects are prolific.
At 25-30oC mould and insects are active.
At 20-25oC mould development is limited.
At 18-20oC young insects stop developing.
Below 15oC most insects stop reproducing and mould stops developing.
All silo manufacturers in WA make fully sealed silos to increase the effectiveness of fumigation but this had led to silos which do not vent to allow moist air to escape.
"This results in many calls from farmers regarding moisture in silos and the culprit usually is moist grain or condensation from damp air being sucked in at night," Mr Prater said.
"Not many people realise that a 75 tonne silo filled with grain that has too much moisture can condense 750 litres of water for every one per cent released from the stored grain inside the silo which then runs down the silo walls ruining grain and corroding silo walls."
The Safe Grain 8 controller works on wet bulb and dry bulb temperatures along with relative humidity.
"The controller will knock down grain temperature at harvest, then maintain the grain at the optimum temperature by forcing in only cool, dry air (below 80pc humidity)," Mr Prater said.
DE Engineers has also designed a unique ducting system called Aeroduct, which pushes air down to the bottom of the cone.
A properly aerated silo should not need the introduction of phostoxin for insect control.
With the sold out sign hung out during last year's harvest, Mr Prater said production for the 2019 harvest was in full swing at its new factory in Northam's Industrial Park.
"We're on nine-hour day shifts and looking to employ more workers to build the big silos and also build up our inventory of seed cleaners, field bins, stock equipment and smaller silos because our proverbial cupboard is bare," he said.
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