A catchy harvest, increasingly uncertain weather patterns and the loss of the basic farm payment are focusing attention on ways to maximise returns by optimising grain quality post-harvest.
New technology to improve the efficiency of grain drying and cooling – while speeding throughput and protecting the crop while in storage – will be on display at this month’s Midlands Machinery Show.
“It is critical to look after corn after it has left the combine,” says Richard Flach, co-owner of grain drying specialist Flach and le-Roy.
“The benefits of correctly and efficiently handling and storing grain post-harvest cannot be ignored any longer. All too often farmers spend vast sums of money on a new combine – which they replace after five years – then just stick the grain in a shed until sold.”
Mr Flach reports a marked increase in enquiries for grain handling and storage systems.
Improving efficiency is also a key priority – more so now in light of significant increase in fuel and gas prices.
With quality systems lasting up to 40 years, family farms with a keen younger generation are currently reviewing on-farm facilities while they still have the basic payment to help finance replacing or upgrading equipment.
“Farmers can save on fuel costs by maximising the sun’s operating latent heat when on-floor bulk drying,” explains Mr Flach.
“Justify the cost of investing in technology which promises efficiency: Will that investment make for financial sense
when only used for two months a year?”
Andrew Head, managing director of grain handling firm BDC Systems, says this season has seen some farmers struggle to get crops dry in time to meet market and storage requirements.
“Those who understand the benefits of hot air temperature driers – such as the Svegma continuous flow dryer – have seen how successfully they can manage wet, tricky and unpredictable harvests.”
BDC Systems has already seen increased interest in its Moisture Monitor System, which samples grain from both incoming and outgoing elevators.
“If grain is getting dried to 14%, it detects when moisture content goes above or below 14% and sends a text message. The system is remotely controlled to ensure correct levels are maintained.”
Double-drying systems make for increased efficiency, says Jorge Semiao, marketing manager at grain dryer manufacturer Alvan Blanch. “Recirculating hot air saves fuel. These systems might retail for more money but there is huge operative efficiency.
“We are soon launching a smart controller which reads both the grain’s input and output moisture levels and then automatically manages the drier to achieve desired moisture output,” adds Mr Semiao.
“Over the past two years 20 UK installations have trialled the system; the results and accuracy are great. The controller can be fitted to existing systems and has proven to reduce fuel costs.”