Farmers have got grain in the big poly bag

Grain bags have come a long way in a decade. No longer an emergency measure, bagging is now standard on many farms.

Three factors pushed grain bags into the mainstream of prairie farming:

  • expanding farm size means producers are growing grain further from their main yards, often on leased or unserviced land, where many growers can’t find temporary storage on or near their new fields, and erecting steel on leased land doesn’t appeal to many
  • extracting grain from the bag had been a cumbersome, wasteful and time-consuming chore that turned many farmers away from bags. However, most manufacturers now have good grain-extraction machines costing less than $60,000
  • disposing of used bags was a nuisance that still is not totally solved, despite attempts by industry and government. However, enough progress in recycling has been made that many farmers feel comfortable about grain bags

The number of farmers who use grain bags in their annual strategy is growing, says Rob Wierenga co-owner of Neeralta in Barrhead, Alta., a leading manufacturer of bagging equipment.

“A key benefit we hear over and over is that bagging requires fewer people in the operation because you’re not trucking grain back home during combining,” says Wierenga, in an email interview.

He says this reduces the expense of hiring help that’s often hard to find.

“Grain bagging offers an advantage on rented land where there’s no bin space. It adds flexibility by easily bringing in a few more bags if you have higher than anticipated yields. With steel, your limits are set.

“Then there’s the cost factor. We figure bagging cost between seven and eight cents per bushel to bag grain. That includes your investment in the bagger and extractor.”

The Neeralta 10-foot grain bagger lists for $52,900. It handles bags up to 500 feet long and 12 feet in diameter. That price includes a hopper for grain carts and a telescopic swing auger for unloading trucks.

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