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Grain storage for profit and safety

Grain going into a bin is much like cash going into a bank. It’s a deposit for the future. Unlike hard, cold, cash, grain can spoil if it isn’t properly stored or maintained. Spoiled grain can cost you dollars, and it is also a serious hazard. Problems with stored grain can commonly occur during a bad harvest year (as much of the prairies is facing this fall) but can also result from poor management.

Grain that is stored at lower temperatures and with low moisture content can be kept in storage longer before it starts to deteriorate. When storing grain, make sure that the maximum moisture content levels are not exceeded for the type of grain you are storing. You can find this information from your provincial agricultural specialists. If your maximum moisture content levels are higher than the recommended levels, there are some options in the way to condition the grain.

No matter what method you use to condition your grain, it’s important to follow manufactures’ guidelines with any equipment you may be using. It’s also important that if you’re moving grain to remember lockout-tagout procedures so no one accidentally gets caught in moving equipment or grain.

According to Purdue Extension, grain goes out of condition because grain temperatures are not controlled. Improper control of temperature can cause moisture to move from one part of the stored grain to another, this moisture accumulation can result in grain spoilage. Modern grain management to control temperatures means using aeration. (Moving grain from bin to bin can also be used to equalize temperatures, but this means having an empty bin, and having the time to do this.) Once again, no matter the technique or equipment you use to achieve acceptable grain storage temperatures, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and use all safety precautions.

The best place to store grain is in facilities that are weatherproof and provide good ventilation. It’s important that the place where you store your grain cannot be accessed by pests or be directly impacted by the weather. And of course avoid storing new grain on top of old grain that may have spoiled or be infested by insects.

Throughout the storage of any grain, check often for signs of moisture migrating through the grain. Perdue Extension recommends checking weekly during fall and spring months and every two weeks during the winter. Setting a regular day of the week as part of your routine will help you remember to check on your stored grain.

Properly stored grain has far less of a chance of becoming spoiled and becoming a major hazard. Spoiled grain can bridge and create grain walls that mean having to enter to clean up the mess it has left behind. Entrapments often happen because people enter grain bins to knock down a wall of spoiled grain and end up trapped under- neath the grain as it avalanches down. Good storage and management could mean the difference between life and death.

For more information about farm safety, please visit casa-acsa.ca.

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