Top reasons to build a better bin system

The expansion of on-farm grain handling systems isn’t only due to expanding acres. Farmers must move large volumes of grain to optimize moisture levels before shipping. Pneumatic systems like the  VersaLoop add more versatility for shifting the grain around. | GSI photo

Expanding farmers are growing their grain-handling systems, not only for larger volumes from increased acres, but also as a marketing tool allowing them to blend grain or sell later.

Farmers sometimes build a new system to access three-phase power, natural gas and hardtop roads, according to Jayde Klassen with Wentworth Ag, the GSI dealer in Winkler, Man.

If a farmers scores on two of the three counts, it’s worth considering the move. The two main factors are a paved road and natural gas, both outside the farmers control. Three-phase power is the one thing a producer can handle himself by buying a genset.

Klassen says more storage and aeration allows a producer to hold grain longer and sell it later for what is usually a higher price.

“A lot of guys in this area (southern Manitoba) are selling canola at $20 (per bushel) and higher right now, but some guys needed space and sold at $13. That hurts. Those guys with extra storage are laughing,” says Klassen in a phone interview. He adds that the extra $7 goes a long way toward paying for a bin.

His planning process is based on each new bin full of grain at harvest. An empty or half-empty bin in September is not a good investment.

“You never know what prices will be two months into the future. That’s why guys ship gradually over the winter and into spring, trying to take advantage of fluctuations.

“I have a customer who started out with the usual small bin yard, then he started to expand. As the volume of grain increased, he’d add a new 73,000 bu. bin every one or two years.”

Klassen says he has many customers in this same situation. They try to make the most of their original bin yard, but that usually isn’t the best layout. Moving grain from the dryer through the cooling bins and then into storage is a big task if you depend on trucks and augers. It’s costly and requires competent hired hands.

“Finding hired hands is getting tougher. Good hired hands are even tougher to find. That’s why a lot of guys are moving toward pneumatic systems. And we see farmers with all three: a leg, a drag and an air system going into the final storage.

“It just makes sense to install that pneumatic system. You eliminate one or two staff, and of course that’s a cost saving. Just a push of the button and the system will do what you want it to do.

“A lot of guys have already cheated themselves by erecting bins without any help in planning and with no way to reach all the bins with a leg. A good majority of farmers have done that. That’s where an air system comes into play. An air system is so flexible in terms of where you can go. So even if the site isn’t good for a leg, you can go ahead and put the tower up anyway and catch those stray oddball bins with your air system.”

Klassen say one continuing obstacle to good planning is those long straight rows of bins. He says farmers naturally like to see that long shiny row of steel, but it’s the worst possible layout for an efficient bin yard.

“On brand new sites, it’s much easier. We ask the customer about his five-year plan and his 10- year plan and even his 15-year plan. That’s typical. And we can supply everything. We sell GSI legs and drags and pneumatic systems. And we help you plan the whole thing.”

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