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Bag offers new ideas in grain storage

Agriculture.com Staff 09/09/2009 @ 8:23am

Donnie Schilke and his son, Nick, of Imperial, Nebraska, have left grain bins behind. The men now use the Loftness Grain Bagging Storage System for storage.

The Schilkes harvest 5,000 acres of corn as well as 1,500 acres of soybeans and wheat. They stored about 1,200 acres of corn in bags in 2007. Last year, half the corn and about 375 acres of their soybeans went into the bagging system.

"It saves a lot of labor, and it speeds up harvest drastically," Schilke says. "You don't have to wait in line at elevators; you just harvest whenever you want. Three guys can harvest instead of six or seven. It's simple, and it's fast."

Schilke's crew uses two combines with 12-row headers and a 1,500-bushel grain cart to harvest.

If there's space in the elevator or at home, they need four truck drivers to keep up with the combines.

But two combines can't keep the bagger busy. Schilke sets up the bagger on a high spot at the edge of a field. A bagger operator takes the deliveries.

"It will keep up with four or five combines, no problem," says Schilke. "It fills just as fast as you can dump it in, usually. You're never waiting on trucks." He adds, "It's slick, and it's very, very safe. Employees love it. They'd rather have it than go to a bin any day of the week."

Steve Hood and Terry Twiestmeyer helped bring the idea to the U.S. after spending time in Argentina.

"Combines are bigger than they were years ago, and you see combines in the field at noon waiting for a truck," Hood says. "Farmers have huge amounts they are harvesting, and they need huge storage capacity."

One of the key advantages to the grain bag system is not having to prep a bin, says Twiestmeyer.

"You don't have to check it like a normal bin," Hood explains. "With the bagging system, the temperature outside is the temperature in the bag."

The bag is sealed and airtight when it's full. Grain and organisms in the sealed bag quickly metabolize the oxygen. Risk potential appears minimal if the bag is well sealed and if the grain is dry, says Roberto Barbosa, Louisiana State University agricultural engineer, Baton Rouge.

Grain and organisms in the sealed bag quickly metabolize the oxygen. Without fresh air, grain goes dormant, insects die, and aerobic fungi stop growing.

There's probably no defined upper safe limit for grain moisture in storage, but the dryer, the better, he says.

Damage to kernels during harvest eases the way for fungal infection and shortens the allowable storage time.

Donnie Schilke and his son, Nick, of Imperial, Nebraska, have left grain bins behind. The men now use the Loftness Grain Bagging Storage System for storage.

Schilke emptied the higher moisture corn first and found that even though it needed to be dried, the quality hadn't changed.

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