When in doubt check it out, bin management science, and cool research — a grain storage Q&A LIVE! with Joy Agnew

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

The combines are rolling and as the crops are coming in, storing it is the next piece in the farm management puzzle. How do we take care of a warm crop and what do we need to understand to manage our conditions? Dr. Joy Agnew, from Olds College, has the answers.

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  • Too warm is not good, use PAMI resources or to get relevant crop info for safe temp and moisture storage
  • If the crop came off on a 30 degree day, it’s very likely 30 degrees in the bin. In the bin cables are great but there are good high and low tech options to probe a bin, even a long piece of re-bar to check temperature, maybe not safe, but certainly cost-effective, but it’s probably more cost-effective in the long run to have a higher-tech solution.
  • Do the math, is the probe going to cost the same amount of money as losing a whole bin? The probe will last 10 to 15 years.
  • Check your bins! Make a schedule so you don’t miss checking on something.
  • Old farmers’ tales. Only run your fans during the night, during the day, when it’s raining, never turn the fan off. Agnew’s blanket statement: there’s no one solution that fits every situation. It all comes down to the air’s capacity to dry or cool, and your airflow rate.
  • Dr. Agnew gets technical about air, moisture, and grain, and it’s fascinating, even Shaun will watch the recap to catch it all.
  • Sweating can generate problem spots, physiologically, and microbiologically.
  • Delegating checking on bins? Could be a good way to build that method into your farm management.
  • How often should you be checking your bin? If it’s digital, can check the app often. With high-risk grain, every day or a couple of days if there’s air on it. If not high risk for moisture content, maybe every couple of weeks. It’s all about peace of mind, when it’s $50,000 in the bin.
  • Wooden bins versus steel?
  • Keep checking even in the spring — as the sun starts warming up, could have temperature gradients within a steel bin.
  • Trash, and the nature of trash will affect moisture pockets.
  • The smaller the seed, the harder it is to blow air through it. Flaxseed is extremely difficult, even though it’s not the smallest, because of the way it stacks in the bin.
  • Bins can get hot, hot, hot! We mean fire-starter hot.
  • What about grain bags? Short-term storage shouldn’t become long-term. But if they’re kept air-tight, keeps the aerobic bacteria out of it, stop the microbial activity, stop the spoilage.
  • Olds College is doing some very cool things. 2000 acre farming operation is being converted into an Ag Tech and Smart Ag learning situation, new academic programming, NIR spectroscopy on a combine as we speak, essentially a 2000 acre lab, another couple acres next year.
  • Idea on a napkin all the way to commercialized coming out of Olds College’s farm.
  • If Shaun took the Ag Tech diploma, he’d graduate with the skillset that agriculture will need 5 to 10 years from now — programming, telematics, plant science, agronomy, data science.
  • Dr. Agnew’s projects this summer: DOT platform seeding, spraying, spreading, plus a lot more applied, practical outcomes of her research; sensors, close to 100 different types of in-field sensors, including real-time nutrient monitoring
  • Sensors are great and all but still haven’t quite figured out the labour component and how to analyze and compare the data layers
  • Olds, Alta. has some of the fastest rural internet anywhere, broadband will have to catch up for the rest of the prairies, Olds College is also testing some of the lower broadband networks for their efficiency

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