Portable grain storage circle simplified

Once the pile is securely tarped, the negative pressure fan sucks air out of the grain while louvres in the walls allow atmospheric air into the pile. With electrical and base work included, the system costs about 40 cents per bushel to store grain for one year.  |  GSI photo

Low oil prices decimated demand for ethanol grains. COVID-19 decimated demand for livestock feed grains.

That means if the 2020 crop is near average, it could spark big demand for temporary grain storage. 

Nobody likes to invest in temporary shortage, but it’s one of those things you can’t do without, like a tractor.  

With that in mind, GSI has been refining their temporary storage system for the past decade.

It recently adopted a method of performing more of the pre-assembly work at the factory. When the eight-foot sections arrive at the customer’s storage site, the legs are already attached. All that’s needed is to flip them out, thus making it much quicker for the farm operator to erect and put to use. 

The galvanized steel sections are bolted together on site into any configuration and size the customer wants. Wall sections can be either 3.5 feet or six feet high.

The walls have louvres to allow air to flow into the grain pile. Once the pile is tarped with 12 mil poly, the negative air pressure fans are turned on, thus sucking the tarp down tight to the pile. 

Atmospheric air entering through the louvres keeps the grain in condition, explained GSI director of sales Shad Singleton, in a recent phone interview. 

“The fan in a negative air system like this gives you the same air exchange rate as when you blow air into a steel bin. You get about one-tenth of a CFM variation between inside and outside. The difference is that fresh air enters the pile from all the way around, through every wall section,” says Singleton.

“If grain went in at 15 percent, six months later it will still be 15 percent. It’s not enough to condition grain, but it is enough to maintain it.” 

The GSI system is like an enhanced version of the big concrete rings used as temporary storage, except that the GSI louvred-wall system is portable.

Singleton says his involvement with big concrete rings gave him first-hand knowledge of the fact that air entering a grain container must equal the volume of air being sucked out of the container. He says that in the case of concrete rings, there has to be an inlet tube going to the middle of the pile. 

“Most of our customers prefer a round pile with a central fill system. A concrete floor is nice, but it’s not necessary. A lot of guys just set it up on the ground. They’ll haul in some crushed limestone and lay it down so the centre is slightly raised, just a little crown to it. If water gets in, it drains off to the sides.”

Singleton says cost per bushel varies depending on wall height, total dimension of the area, pile size, aeration, site prep, electrical and other factors.

A complete facility up and running will cost about 40 cents a bushel. If there’s already a prepared site, then cost of just walls and aeration will be down around 15 cents a bushel. 

GSI does not build grain bagging equipment, but Singleton does have an informed opinion on this method.

“Bags are still your most economical way to store grain. It’s also the most labour-intensive to put out and pick up. If you have extra people, that’s how to use them.”

Singleton said GSI temporary grain storage systems are used for corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, rice, milo and sunflowers. Installation typically can be completed by the end user in under a week.

“Farmers call our louvered-wall system temporary grain storage, but once they set it up, it seems they don’t move much. Guys who are growing their farm or changing land will set these up until they’re comfortable buying steel bins. Then they can move the walls to another site. That’s easy to do.”

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