Thursday, May 4, 2017

Grain Storage "Sausage" Bags and the end of bumper crops?

I have seen long plastic bags being used to store silage. Because we have had three bumper crops in a row for corn, soybeans, and wheat, grain prices are low. So farmers are reluctant to sell now. But building additional steel bins that won't be needed during years of normal yields is expensive. That is why we have seen commercial elevators adding plastic covered ground piles for storage. An example is Cargill in Tuscola, IL. But that is still too expensive for farmers. so manufactures such as Richiger have developed machines that load and unload 300-foot polyethylene bags that are 10 feet in diameter. ''A 10-foot grain bag loader costs about $28,500, and an unloading machine costs about $40,000. Bags cost about $975 each." Unfortunately, the bags cannot be reused, recycled, or burned. They must be disposed of in landfills. [StarTribune] Silage bags unloaded a little bit each day to feed the cattle. So they can be unloaded with a skid loader. But grain bags need a lot unloaded quickly when a semi-truck arrives to take grain to the market. So special unloading machines have also been developed.

Screenshot from a video posted by Show Me Shortline
Another screenshot from the above video
Loftness Manufacturing from StarTribune
Evidently the equipment has been available for a while: "Loftness Manufacturing, based in Hector, was the first company in the U.S. to begin making grain-bagging machines in 2008. Its business, especially in Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Canada, has skyrocketed." [StarTribune] The date of that article was 10/4/2014 so using bags for temporary storage was discovered to help store the first bumper crop. Some farmers use them for temporary storage to avoid hiring truck drivers during the rush season who spend significant time waiting in long lines at the elevator. Waiting over an hour to unload is not uncommon during the harvest rush. And harvest time is the lowest prices of the year. Waiting until just December or January will increase the price. If the bags are being filled with corn from grain carts that were filled by a combine, it is important that they can store wet corn. If they are properly filled and sealed, there is minimal oxygen and little chance of spoilage. [StarTribune]

There is no driver in the tractor attached to the bagger. It just provides PTO power. The tractor is shoved forward by the bagger by  the pressure of the grain shoved into the bag. The brakes on the bagger are carefully adjusted to provide the correct pressure to stretch the bag by the proper amount. The following video provides details as to how the bag is set up. It also offers you a You Tube rabbit hole of grain bag videos if you open up the video in its own browser window.

But storage space may not be a problem in the Fall of 2017. A lot of wheat will probably be killed in western Kansas because we had some very mild early months that caused the winter wheat's development to be about 3 weeks early when an 18 to 20 inch snow storm fell on it. Much of the wheat was "in boot stage or just beginning to head out." I think of that as budding or flowering. In any case, winter wheat can't survive a frost if it is in that sensitive stage of development. And 18-20 inches of snow is quite frosty. "Wheat growers had already planted the smallest winter wheat acreage since 1919 and were on pace to produce the smallest crop since the 1.546 billion-bushel crop in 1972, Newsom added." [dtnPF]

We had a good Spring for planting. So the record rains we have been having is destroying a lot of the seedlings. And the fields are so wet, it will be a long time before they dry out enough for planting. Of course the fields have to be dry enough that the tires don't sink in and the equipment gets stuck. But it turns out, the fields need to be a lot dryer than that to avoid compaction. There is not only the compaction of the tires pressing on the soil, there is an issue of "side compaction" caused by the disks "smearing" walls on both sides of the roots when they create the trough for the seed. (Maybe I should invent a hollow shank planter that could bury the seed with less soil disturbance.) If the farmers replant, do they need to buy just more seed, or do they need to add more fertilizer, herbicide, and/or pesticide? "With final corn planting dates for federal crop insurance at late May in Missouri and June 5 for most of Illinois, it seems likely that some corn acres will be lost in 2017. Final soybean planting dates for most of those two states extend to June 20 so there is a chance of soybean acres yet being planted, but keep in mind that there is more rain in the forecast so the next planting opportunity is still weeks away, at best." [dtnPF]

Fields are being flooded even though the big river is five miles away.
Machinery Pete posted
Love this pic from Facebook friend Chad Steendam....time for things to dry out #plant17
Ryan Banning Wow, my original picture is still working the web
Screenshot from a video
The RICHIGER maquinarias R950MX is a roller mill bagger that will crimp AND bag your grain!
[We have learned that wet corn stores better if it is cracked.]
It is not just Missouri, Arkansa, and Southern Illinois that is being pounded by rain this year: Kingen Farm's video. (source)
Joel Kingen Had all the corn done April 26th. A little over half done with beans.
Joel Kingen Done with corn the first time. Looks like that was a practice run
Kingen Farms Mccordsville Indiana just east of Indy
Craig Nielsen Western Iowa has been really wet too. We are behind and it rains about every other day.
Yvan Hudon Here in the Montréal region Québec, Canada, It is the worst spring since 30 years. Three weeks late and farmers are getting nervous. St-Laurence river is flooding everywhere and thousands of houses will probably have to be demolish. Still forecasting one inch next weekend! It doesn't look good.
Maarty van Egmond Looks similar to Aussie crops in 2016 which ended up being record product year....

Dealing with bumper crops is not a new issue. This gives a whole new meaning to "bagged grain."
Greg Druffel posted
How they did it in 1937. What happens when you get a big crop. Eastern Washington State.
Kyle Klinger All stacked by hand
Before railroads were developed, grain was shipped in bags by horse&wagon, canal barge, and/or steamship. I wonder how well the bags kept the rain out.

Even early self-propelled combines still had the option of a bagging platform instead of a grain bin and augur.

1 comment:

  1. Over the past two years, a number of companies have begun cleaning and recycling the plastics: