GRDC GrowNotes Grain Storage

Grain storage grow notes

On-farm grain storage has become a significant component of many Australian cropping operations and growers who manage their storage facilities and operations well are being rewarded through preferred-supplier partnerships with key grain traders. Grain traders and buyers are increasingly pursuing growers who can maintain grain quality through best-practice storage management allowing savvy growers to become ‘price makers’ rather than ‘price takers’.

On-farm storage systems are a significant investment to set up and manage. Any potential return on investment in on-farm storage should be compared to other investment options, such as buying more land or upgrading machinery, to determine the best use of capital. The interesting thing about on-farm storage is the return on investment varies for every grower depending on their scale, crops grown, access to bulk handlers and distance from domestic markets.

In the same way growers ensure they take a strategic approach to managing the production of their crops, a strategic approach to grain storage is also required for optimal end-product performance. It’s no longer acceptable to empty grain into a silo at the back of the shed and forget about it for months on end. Successful on-farm storage starts with a planned, strategic mindset. This enables us to set up a flexible system that will suit our plans across variable years and crops, and enable us to manage quality and avoid disasters.

A key component to storing grain on farm successfully is having the knowledge of best-practice management to avoid costly quality issues and disasters. This manual aims to provide relevant information, links to other resources and contacts to enable a base understanding of how to manage on-farm storage successfully. Through an integrated pest management (IPM) approach and proactive attitude to quality control we can avoid adding to the increasing challenge and scale of phosphine-resistant pests. Ultimately our aim is to save growers and industry a significant amount of money by prolonging the life of the most cost-effective pest disinfectant available — phosphine.


Silo Buyer’s Guide

Stored Grain Silo guide

The decision of which silo to buy can be daunting, mainly because it’s a 20+ year investment and not a purchase that is easily returned or traded-in if it proves unsuitable. The following information will help identify the key features to look for when purchasing silos.

 Key Points

  • Buying silos is a significant, long-term investment – take the time to make the right choice.
  • Consider the storage requirements for the next 20 years — not just the next season.
  • For reliable insect control and grain quality maintenance, choose a gas-tight sealable storage, which also has aeration.
  • Gas-tight sealable storage must meet the Australian Standard AS2628.
Silo Purchase - Choose carefully

Choose carefully: While all silos are made to store grain and ‘do the job’, some will
enable superior grain quality management than others.

Quality in – quality out

Maintaining grain quality during storage relies on the ability to control moisture, temperature and insects. It makes sense to look for storage with aeration cooling as well as being gas-tight sealable for effective fumigation.
While aeration cooling won’t reduce grain moisture significantly, it will prevent moisture migration and lower grain temperature. Properly managed aeration cooling provides cool, uniform conditions throughout the storage, which discourages pest infestation and mould growth and maintains grain quality. An added benefit of aeration is that it can be used to ventilate a silo after fumigation in one day, rather than waiting five days.

Insect pest control

Western Australia has given up access to contact pesticides long ago and the eastern states are under increasing pressure to follow suit to protect our markets. This puts added pressure on fumigants, mainly phosphine, to control pests during storage. In order to control pests at all life stages (eggs, larvae, pupae, adult) and prevent further resistance, phosphine and other fumigants are only effective in a gas-tight storage.

Seal the deal: A gas-tight, sealable silo is the only way to ensure a successful fumigation.A little maintenance goes a long way

In the same way that all farm machinery needs regular maintenance to keep it working reliably, so do silos, especially gas-tight sealable silos. A small gas leak can mean the difference between a successful fumigation and insects surviving, leading to loads being rejected upon receival.

Grain hygiene is the other important maintenance component. Well designed silos won’t have areas that trap grain and dust making them quick and easy to clean.

Safety saves lives: Consider the safety features of a silo, a little extra investment could save a worker or your life.Find a safe bet

The WHS (previously OH&S) spotlight continues to shine on agricultural industries and is undoubtedly here to stay. Consider silos that meet state WHS requirements and more importantly can be safely operated by everyone on site.

While some silos come without ladders, mould and insects are often found in the top of a silo before they can be detected at ground level. The main options are to have an WHS compliant ladder, use a safety harness or build a platform that spans along the top of a line of silos.

Silo purchase checklist

Silo Purchase Checklist

Copyright © All material published in this Fact Sheet is copyright protected and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the GRDC. Produced by:

Storages for bulk commodities, Managing on farm grain storage, CD

Managing on-farm grain storage – effective practices for the delivery of quality assured products, ISBN 1 86487 035 4
Principal Author – David J Webley PhD, Quality Wheat CRC Ltd
Executive Editor – Clare Johnson, Quality Wheat CRC Ltd
Project Management – Tony McKenzie, The University of Sydney Orange Campus
© 1999 Quality Wheat CRC Ltd (except for sections where copyright is acknowledged otherwise)