WHILE they may look similar, all silos are not created equal according to a recent report by the Kondinin Group, which found that not all silos were passing the Australian Standard for sealing.
In the latest round of independent testing which saw numerous silos from 18 brands of cone base silos tested, only 10 passed the standard.
Eight brands of large flat bottom silos were also tested and only half of those passed the required standard.
According to Kondinin Group researcher Ben White, passing the standard for sealing is "essential for effective fumigation" to eradicate weevils and insect pests in stored grain.
Gas-tight sealable silos also ensure the longer term efficacy of phosphine - the only disinfectant option farmers can apply themselves without the need and expense of a licensed fumigator - and reduces the risk of high levels of resistance.
If farmers have a silo they think is sealing, but isn't, there won't be a full concentration of phosphine through the silo.
With low concentrations of fumigate in the silo, farmers can accidentally begin to breed a line of insects that are resistant to phosphine.
"It's similar to a cropping scenario, where if you spray really low rates of glyphosate over a long period of time, you'll end up breeding plants that are resistant to glyphosate," Mr White said.
The testing has uncovered that quite a few silos that manufacturers say are gas tight and sealable are, in fact, not.
"I think the problem is that, in some of those instances, where silos didn't seal the manufacturer may have stated that they do," Mr White said.
The Kondinin Group undertakes this research every couple of years, which Mr White said was a "pretty big undertaking", as they travelled throughout the country to test between 150 to 200 silos.
All the silos were 12 months old and tested against the required standard, which said the silo has to be pressurised to 250 pascals, sealed, and then can't lose more than half of the pressure within a five-minute period.
"250 pascals sounds like a lot, but it's not, it's a fraction of a PSI and a very small amount of pressure," Mr White said.
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"If it can hold at least half of this air pressure that we've put into it for a five minute period, then it will maintain sufficient gas levels with sufficient fuming fumigant levels in there to ensure a full kill on an insect population that might be in the grain in that silo."
Mr White said the biggest surprise from the study was that there was a bit of misunderstanding by manufacturers as to what the standard was.
"It's kind of crazy, there's a sticker that most of them stick on the side of the silo that tells them exactly how to test it, but the knowledge base was surprisingly low," he said.
On the flipside Mr White said some manufacturers were working hard to make sure that they provided a better quality silo, something that met the standard but also improved other features, including being easier to clean and safer to use."
There's certainly some positives that are coming out of this work," Mr White said.
"There are a few manufacturers that have really stepped up the game since the last time we tested them, that's really encouraging to see, and we're making headway."
As it's the end of harvest, farmers are beginning to plan what infrastructure they plan to buy for their farm for the coming season.
Mr White said it was important that farmers were making sure that they were buying grain storage that was fit for purpose.
He encouraged farmers to "grab a copy of this report and have a read," as it lists the good and bad of each silo Kondinin Group tested.
"If they're in the market, just make sure they're getting the piece of gear that is best suited to their operation," Mr White said.
"It's not terribly easy to trade in or move around like a tractor.
"So you want to make sure that you get the piece of gear that's going to work."
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