Equipment for monitoring, management
To properly manage stored grain the operator must be able to obtain samples from the stored grain, determine moisture content, monitor grain temperatures, and keep a simple record of both grain and ambient temperatures.
A deep bin probe should be used to obtain samples at different locations to determine the moisture content, the level of fine material, and general grain conditions. A reasonably accurate moisture tester is needed. The operator must know the accuracy of the moisture tester under all conditions. Inexpensive electrical testers can give inaccurate readings under many conditions. Readings on freshly dried grain, warm or hot grain, and excessively cold grain can be inaccurate. The operator can "calibrate" the tester under these conditions by checking readings with the local elevator or other more accurate testers.
Thermocouple cables installed in larger bins (20,000 to 25,000 bu and up) are valuable in monitoring temperatures in storage to determine the progress of aeration. In bins without cables, thermometer probes should be used to check the temperature at different locations within the bin. This helps in monitoring the progress of the aeration and in locating troublespots.
A thermometer to measure the exhaust air temperature and one to read ambient air temperature is necessary for proper fan management. Maximum-minimum thermometers are especially helpful because they provide the operator an indication of changes in temperature with time.
This equipment not only helps the operator manage the stored grain but provides information on how the aeration system works and how stored grain responds to treatment.
WARNING: Flowing grain is dangerous! Never enter a grain bin or other grain storage area while the grain is flowing. Flowing grain will exert forces against the body great enough to pull the average size person under the grain in only a few seconds leading to death by suffocation.
This is one publication in a series that evaluates alternatives for saving energy, improving grain quality, and increasing capacity in corn drying. The series provides information on how to incorporate these alternatives in drying systems. The publications include:
FO-1324 Dryeration and In-Storage Cooling for Corn Drying
FO-1327 Management of Stored Grain with Aeration
Development of these publications was partially supported by the Minnesota Energy Agency under an Energy Policy and Conservation Act (P.L. 94-163) grant. The authors are members of the Department of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Minnesota.