Flat Storage Space - One Possibility
This article written by Mindy Ward explains the changes in Ag corn storage very well.
Bucklin Buildings are available in 2010 that are ready to step up and be the additional storage needed.
By Mindy Ward, For Farm & Ranch Guide
Thursday, August 30, 2007 6:24 PM CDT
HIGGINSVILLE, Mo. - As he harvested corn last fall, Don Rasa knew storage capacity at the farm was maxed out. He faced the decision of selling from the field or finding alternative storage.
“It appeared the corn market was going to go up after harvest,” Rasa says. “I wanted to take advantage of that.”
So, he decided to try a flat-storage system. Two buildings on the farm, a Quonset and a pole barn, were transformed to provide 41,000 bushels of extra storage.
Bill Casady, University of Missouri Ag engineer, says grain storage continues to be a concern as Midwest farmers increased their crop acres to fill the growing demands of the marketplace.
“With the price of corn the way it is they realize they need more bin space out there,” he says.
However, producers should weigh the cost and benefits of revamping buildings for flat storage against other options first.
But, all of the bins were full at Rasa's Lafayette County farm and erecting new ones proved too costly.
“To get the best deal on grain bins, you need to order in winter to get a discount,” Rasa adds. “We were too late for that.”
If grain bins prove cost prohibitive, then Casady recommends producers consider storage at their local grain elevator. However, pricing may vary depending on location.
“We don't know that price yet,” Casady says.
“It is a competitive market. I can imagine that places out there may be asking more because the demand is higher.”
Like many crop farmers, Rasa wanted control over the physical product. So, he chose to keep the commodity on the farm and use two existing buildings for flat storage.
First, he poured a concrete floor in the metal Quonset building.
“We needed concrete in there anyway to store machinery,” he says. He added concrete retaining walls to both ends to keep the grain inside the building.
The second building was a pole-frame structure without concrete. Rasa lined the dirt floor with plastic and installed concrete retaining walls around the sides and ends.
Both buildings had aeration fans connected to aeration tubes. Roughly three to four tubes extended the length of each building. The fans helped cool the grain and maintain quality.
Putting the grain into the buildings proved more difficult than Rasa expected.
“It took a little more labor to get it in there and a little more labor to get it out than I would have liked it to have.”
He recommends tall sidewalls, a minimum of 14 feet, to enable an auger to cone grain adequately. “Actually, 16 to 18 feet would be better.”
Storage space increases quickly as the height of grain against the walls increases. Casady says farmers should properly reinforce walls to withstand the lateral pressure of stored grain.
While corn piled a foot deep exerts only 11.5 pounds per linear foot of wall, corn piled to 8 feet deep can create a total force of 736 lbs. per linear foot of wall. That is a difference of 64 times, he adds.
Analysis of building materials and methods for retrofitting an existing structure for grain storage can be difficult and uncertain. Casady offers his assistance in designing a grain-storage system for producers.
“They can call me, and we can work through it together.”
After using flat storage for the first time last year, Rasa saw some distinct differences in building types. While the concrete floor worked “beautifully,” the plastic did not.
“I would not do (plastic) again,” he says. “The biggest problem with the plastic is you have to pick it up with suction. It requires a lot of labor.”
In the concrete Quonset building, using a bobcat and front-end loader, Rasa filled a semi in 10 to 15 minutes.
All of the grain was moved out of storage by Feb. 1.
“The quality was good,” Rasa says. “We only had a little water damage around the outside edge with the plastic.”
The empty buildings then provided additional storage for the farm. Rasa houses machinery in one building and hay in the other.
“I like that we are able to get multiple uses out of the flat storage (units).”
The last-minute grain storage fix proved to have a good financial return.
“The price of the commodity went up about $1 per bushel from when we put it in there to when we took it out,” Rasa adds.
He plans to use his new storage system again this year.