top of page

How to prepare your storage bins for the next harvest?

Updated: Jun 26



While the season is in full swing, and cereals, soybeans and corn continue to grow, preparations for the next harvest are already underway. Installation of new storage equipment, preventive maintenance and, of course, the big clean-up!


Preparing storage bins is essential to ensure the preservation of your grain. This step, often underestimated, will have a crucial impact on avoiding inconveniences such as contamination, water infiltration and pests.



Top 5 tips


In this article, you'll find 5 tips to help you prepare for the next harvest. Simple preparations that will give you peace of mind for another year of storage. Here are a few easy steps to follow:


1. Clean your bin from top to bottom!


Start by emptying the bin completely and cleaning it thoroughly to remove all traces of the previous harvest (grain, dust, debris, damaged grain and mold). Make sure that all walls are free of grain, and that there are no grains or residues trapped on the inner reinforcements. Pay particular attention to the area around the door and top access hatch. If your roof has a frame, remember to clean it too!





The underfloor accumulates dust, broken grains and other impurities over time. These residues can lead to storage problems such as :

●      promoting the development of toxins and molds ;

●      attract rodents and insects;

●      affecting the olfactory quality of your grains, by giving them an undesirable odor.



Think carefully!


Some grains, such as organic and specialty grains (IP soybeans, malting barley, bread wheat), are intended for human consumption. A smelly grain, although of good quality, could be rejected by your buyer. After all, bread that smells like little feet is no fun! 😬



Look under the mat!


To look at what's going on underneath your storage bin floors, use an inspection camera. Watch for any accumulation. One option is to install cleaning hatches on either side of the discharging auger. These make it easier to inspect the subfloor and clean it.



When your bin is full of grain, by removing the cleaning hatches and activating the aeration, you can remove some of the accumulated dust. This can help you reduce the frequency with which you clean your silo floors.






When should I clean the underside of a storage bin floor?


For normal use, we recommend cleaning every 7 to 10 years. The more grain you handle, the faster debris will accumulate. So, if the bin is filled and emptied several times a year, it's highly possible that the cleaning frequency will have to be adjusted to every 3 to 5 years.


The same applies to grain silo-dryers. The frequency of emptying and filling explains why it's not uncommon to have to clean subfloors every three years.


If you had issues with toxins or mold last season, use appropriate products to eliminate bacteria and molds that might be present in your silos.


As you probably know, toxins come from your fields. To avoid toxin problems in your bins this year, prevent them by using fungicides on your crops. When to use? When the silks come out on corn, an application of fungicides protects against fusarium head blight, the main cause of vomitoxins. Controlling western bean cutworm, which causes cob wounds, also reduces the entry points for fungi on the cob.

 

Remember this: Toxins feed on your corn. So a damaged kernel is a source of problems. Quality always pays off!


*We recommend that you talk to your agronomist to find out which product would be appropriate to control an insect or toxin infestation problem.

** Sincere thanks to Alexandre Couture of Agro-Service A.Couture Inc for his contribution to the writing of this article.



2. Inspection and repair

Conduct a thorough inspection of the bin to detect any cracks, holes or other damage that could compromise storage integrity. Carefully repair any identified defects to prevent air leaks or water infiltration that could affect grain quality.


Keep an eye on the sealing of:

●      The fill hatch

●      The access hatch (manhole)

●      The roof air vents

●      The access door

●      The fan and transition

●      The unloading auger

●      The junction of the silo wall with the concrete slab




When the bin is not sealed with the concrete slab, your ventilation system loses a great deal of its efficiency. In fact, 30% of efficiency is lost - a third of your capacity to cool or dry your grain! Think about it: for a silo-dryer, this loss of efficiency will lead to over-consumption of propane and significant additional costs for drying your crop.


Is your concrete slab dome-shaped or bowl-shaped?


Although the question may seem odd, if your concrete slab is not slightly dome-shaped and the sealing joint with the silo is not adequate, there is a risk of water infiltration under the floor, creating all the conditions for a storage problem. Is your concrete slab aging, cracked, and bowl-shaped? If you plan to keep your bin for many years to come, resurfacing it may be a wise choice.



3. Aeration


Good aeration is essential to cool your grain, condition it and maintain ideal storage conditions. Make sure you have an adequate ventilation system to allow proper air circulation in your bin.


How do you calculate storage ventilation for your grain bin?


There are two options. The first is to carry out a series of calculations, non-trivial for the average person. There are so many things to say, to explain and so many nuances to take into account.


The second option is to use an online calculator thanks to the magic of Zinternets 🤪. For several years now, the University of Minnesota (University of Minnesota - UofM) has made a calculator available to the general public for estimating ventilation power for your storage bins. Although the tool is an approximation, it is accurate enough for you to use as a reference. (https://bbefans.cfans.umn.edu/)




How to calculate the number of air vents needed for a grain bin?


Nothing could be simpler! You just need to calculate the opening area on the roof of an air vent. For each square foot of opening (12 in x 12 in), count 1000 CFM of aeration capacity.


Example:

●      Round vent: (Pi radius^2) / (1212) 1000 = 3.1416 (9 in diameter / 2)^2 = 442 CFM

●      Round vent: (Pi radius^2) / (1212) 1000 = 3.1416 (13 in diameter / 2)^2 = 916 CFM

●      Square vent (15 in x 16 in) / (12 in x 12 in) x 1000 CFM = 1,666 CFM


If your fan has an output of 10,000 CFM, choosing square vents (15 in x 16 in) will allow you to reduce the number of roof vents, thus reducing the risk of water infiltration through the roof.



Although larger roof vents are more expensive, you'll need fewer of them, and you'll reduce your risk of water infiltration through the roof.




4. Treatment of insects and pests


Did you have insect problems during your last storage cycle? Implement a thorough cleaning procedure to avoid a repeat experience! Even if you've done a thorough cleaning of your bin, larvae could still be present! Apply a fumigant to make sure you eliminate any harmful insects.




If you've experienced an insect infestation, there's a good chance they're hiding elsewhere in your grain center 🤯. Make sure you keep your facilities clean, with no trace of grain. After all, it's their feast.


To find out which products are available to you, consult a fumigant expert or experienced agronomist.



Rodents, pests...


It's not uncommon to see mice or rats in farms and grain centers. One of the biggest problems they cause is electrical damage and contamination due to unsanitary conditions. Two problems that will give you plenty of headaches. To avoid rodent problems, there's no secret: keep your facilities clean, free of food, and place traps to prevent their proliferation.


Applying pest control methods to prevent insect and pest infestations is essential for your next season.




5. Safety first !


That's right! We can't say it often enough.  Beware of the big giants! Although seemingly harmless, storage silos are work environments that can be very hostile. Especially during the summer months, when the heat increases the risk you are exposed to.

The enclosed environment, working at height, the presence of dust, mold and potentially toxins at the bottom of the bin is a work space not to be underestimated. So, before you start any maintenance work, make sure you're properly equipped so you don't get caught unprepared.


Need some help? You can consult the CNESST* website to learn more about the risks associated with grain silos, or don't hesitate to contact them (CNESST.gouv.qc.ca/en) for assistance.

* Content in French




Conclusion


There's nothing more satisfying than finishing a chore! The satisfaction of having accomplished a task that's not very exciting, but so important for the future. It's a bit like spring cleaning: it's not exciting, but when it's done, you're happy to be ready for summer. 😄


So, after following these 5 valuable steps, you'll be all set for the next harvest. A clean, contaminant-free bin, unattractive to pests, well sealed and with a high-performance ventilation system to keep your grain fresh and dry. You'll avoid unpleasant surprises and be able to sleep more soundly when you go on vacation this winter. Think well!


You have any questions? Would you like to discuss it? Call us at 514-980-2838.

The agrilog team is here for you!👍


Until then, good cleaning!

12 views

Comments


bottom of page