To understand how to successfully store grain, we need to step back to the harvesting period. We need to focus on three main factors: moisture content, grain temperature and storage period. In addition, grain general conditions and amount of foreign materials will also be crucial.
In a nutshell, we need to keep the grain alive and with the lower possible damage.
Based on this idea, it goes without saying the need of taking samples to be analysed by a Grain Laboratory at the Reception of the grain (before unloading), being recommendable an aspiration system during unloading.
As a part of any grain quality maintenance programme (usually customized by company or product), there is a good number of recommendations that go throughout the different phases of the grain storage process:
CLEANING the grain before storing. Farmers have the experience and they know what kind of impurities come with the grain. Depending on this information we´ll adapt the use of a Magnet Separators, a Drum Sieves and a grain pre-cleaners/cleaners. During the grain flow along the cleaning phase, an aspiration system should be installed as well as the proper devices for disposal (impurities may have a value too).
DRYING will come after cleaning to reduce the moisture content to a level where grain is safe to be stored (a just harvested grain usually contains high moisture content). Without an appropriate control of the natural respiration of the grain and the temperature, insects and mould development will grow till reduce grain quality.
Leaving the harvested grain in the field to dry up should be avoided as well as using a sun drying system (lack of control over the drying process is the main limitation for these two ways). For heating air drying systems (either re-circulating batches or continue flow dryers) we can find more advantages than disadvantages, especially for the second one: continue flow dryers have a much higher drying rate (3% to 5% per hour) and it allows managing large volumes of wet grain.
Buffer Silos can be used when drying capacity is lower than cleaning capacity (a very common scenario): grain will be stored in Buffer Silos waiting to be dried. At this point of the process the product is clean but still wet, that is the reason why we need to work on an appropriate ventilation system, exhaust fans and over-head cones design for these silos. Same considerations for Tempering silos where, right after drying, the grain can cold down and get uniformity in terms of moisture content and temperature.
Only now we can talk about the STORAGE Phase itself, and even when we know traditional methods (gunny bags stacked in warehouses or covered and plinth in open spaces, concrete silos…), our recommendation is, obviously, a Galvanized Steel Silo System. Check out the advantages of steel silos versus concrete silos here: Advantages of a Steel Silo vs. a Concrete Silo for grain storage
At this point the grain is not only clean but also dry, and we just need to keep the maximum quality all across the Storage Process. How do we achieve this? Storage technologies do nothing by themselves. It is the owner who has to properly manage the plant, the training from suppliers becoming crucial as a key to success.
A customized VENTILATION system is a must: ventilation channels and grills, roof vents, exhaust and centrifugal fans and even cooling systems for tropical climates. A Temperature Monitoring System and some indicators such as the EMC (Equilibrium Moisture Content) will help to control both temperature and Moisture Content and, therefore, mold and insects development. This control is only possible when storing in silos.
Download the pdf presentation here: How to store grain to reduce post-harvest losses
The presentation was given during the IAOM Expo in Dubai, with the objective to provide millers the necessary knowledge and criteria to be able to choose the best storage solution according to their needs.
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