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New mobile field bin makes harvest more efficient

The Grain Giant from Vale Industries keeps the combines and grain carts running

A Grain Giant in operation in Richardson, Sask., in August 2020.

Jordan Haaland is the logistics team leader at Delage Farms, a 30,000-acre grain operation near Indian Head, Sask., and one of eight Saskatchewan farms to try out a new mobile field bin called the Grain Giant at harvest time last year.

Haaland says the opportunity to use the Grain Giant couldn’t have come at a better time.

“The day that we were to demo it was probably the best situation to use it as an asset,” says Haaland, explaining that having a large surge bin like Grain Giant on hand not only enabled the combines to keep running continuously but also meant a shorter day for everyone working the field.

“We were harvesting an entire section of canola, which turned out to yield higher than we were expecting, and the field was one of the farthest ones away from our main bin yard we were hauling to,” Haaland says.

The Grain Giant at a glance:

  • Provides 6,500 bushels of surge capacity
  • Can be used to blend grain
  • Wireless remote control and camera system for easy operation
  • Suggested retail price of $270,000

“We had eight combines going at the time and we were running five semi-trailers. We had two grain carts filling the Grain Giant on one side of it and the semis were getting filled simultaneously on the other side, so we were pretty much receiving and loading grain at the same time for about eight hours.”

Introduced to Prairie grain farmers in 2020, the Grain Giant is fashioned after the large, mobile field bins Australians have been using for decades. photo: Vale Industries

Haaland says by having this kind of staging area for offloading grain carts and loading trucks set up in the field, “it allowed that extra 15 bushels per acre to be hauled off efficiently without having to shut down the combines.

“We finished up at about 9 or 10 o’clock at night, but if we hadn’t had the Grain Giant, we would have gone much, much longer into the night and probably would have had to come back the next morning to finish the field,” he adds.

A fit for large and small farms

The Grain Giant is made by Saskatchewan heavy equipment manufacturer Vale Industries. The idea is from the land Down Under.

Al Bergen, agriculture division manager at Vale Industries, says Australian grain farmers have been using temporary, in-field storage bins for many years as a way to boost harvest efficiency. He says Vale Industries owners thought the concept could fly in this country, and after some market research they struck a deal with Aussie manufacturer GrainKing to produce a Canadian version of its mobile field bin.

The first two Grain Giant demonstration units were built in the summer of 2020 and sold to producers in southeast Saskatchewan following the field demonstrations.

Bergen sees the Grain Giant as a good fit for both small and large farms seeking to increase their harvest efficiencies. Having a big mobile field bin can benefit larger operations with land situated far from the bin yard, he says, while a high-capacity storage option helps smaller-sized farms with limited manpower, where bins can be filled all day and evening and then emptied the following morning.

Bergen maintains in situations when cold, wet conditions make harvest exceptionally tough, as was the case two years ago in many parts of the Prairies, the Grain Giant can really prove its worth.

“I think we can all remember 2019, where every acre taken off was a big victory,” he says. “That’s where keeping the combines running is absolutely key, and this is a major step toward making that happen.”

Grain Giant specs

The Grain Giant has a storage capacity of 6,500 bushels and is 50 feet 10 inches (15.5 metres) long, 14 feet 10 inches (4.5 metres) wide and just under 16 feet (five metres) in height in transport mode. It weighs 46,500 pounds (21,100 kilograms) empty but has a tongue weight of less than 3,745 pounds (1,700 kilograms).

Dimensions of the Grain Giant from Vale Industries. photo: Vale Industries

The bin comes with flotation tires that make it easier to transport across soft fields while also reducing compaction. Once it’s placed in a field, the wheels are lifted hydraulically and the bin rests on the ground.

The Grain Giant has a 45-degree adjustable discharge spout and can unload up to 550 bushels per minute. There are two grain doors inside the bin that regulate how much grain flows down to a 14-inch sweep auger, which stretches the length of the Grain Giant. This feature means the Grain Giant can be used to blend grain — an example would be mixing dry grain from one end of the bin with wet grain from the other end as it is discharged into a waiting truck and trailer unit.

Clark Behrns, agricultural division engineering manager at Vale, says a 250-horsepower tractor will provide ample PTO power to run the bin’s electrical and hydraulic systems. A user-friendly wireless remote control and camera system means both farm workers and truck drivers can easily load and unload the Grain Giant themselves, he adds.

Haaland says he can attest to that. “I’ve operated grain carts and all of the grain movement equipment associated with a big bin yard, but I had not run the Grain Giant before, obviously. It was very easy to learn, and it integrated perfectly with our equipment.”

Truck drivers benefit

Saskatchewan trucker Keith Raab had a first-hand look at the Grain Giant in action during another one of the field bin demos last August.

“From a truck driver point of view, it was actually quite amazing,” says Raab, who was contracted to haul grain from a pedigreed seed producer in Richardson, Sask., to a nearby Viterra grain elevator.

“We timed it once, and it was able to load a set of super-Bs in I think eight minutes, and that’s very fast,” he says. “The faster I can get rolling, the more grain I can haul.”

Raab believes having a surge bin like the Grain Giant in the field can make it safer for truck drivers who are often racing against the clock to keep the combines and grain carts moving during a hectic harvest season.

“It was really, really nice to not have that pressure of trying to hurry up and get back,” he says.

“Harvest time is crunch time (but) when you’re hauling grain from the field into an elevator, you never know what to expect as far as wait times and line-ups go, and one bad wait time (at the elevator) can ruin a whole day as far as harvest goes. To be able to have that bulk storage in the field, it basically eliminates that hassle.”

The Grain Giant has a suggested retail price of $270,000. Interested farmers can find more information and an equipment dealer who sells them through the Vale Industries website at valeindustries.ca.

Bergen says a limited number of Grain Giants will be available this year, and he expects the first ones sold will be to those early adopters in farming who are always looking for new ways of doing things. He’s confident, though, it won’t be long before more farmers follow suit once the word gets out about the Grain Giant.

“It may start out small in our first year, but the numbers will definitely grow,” he says.

“This is a new product, and there’s going to be some people that go, ‘I wonder what that’s for, and I wonder who’s going to use it?’” he adds. “But it will just be a matter of time before Canadians catch on to what the Australians have figured out and have been doing for decades.”

About the author

Associate Editor

Mark Halsall

Mark Halsall is an associate editor at Grainews based in Winnipeg. Contact him at [email protected]

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