Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 072 January-February 2008 - North
JANUARY -- FEBRUARY 2008 GROUND COVER 11 Grain storage Aerated silos widen harvest window WA graingrowers Paul and Jill O'Meehan have found aerated silos give more control over grain quality and provide a range of value-add options BY ROSE YEOMAN n Buying two aerated, 2200-tonne silos has allowed Paul and Jill O'Meehan to finish harvest uncharacteristically early at their 4700- hectare Borden beef enterprise, 'Daniel's Well', near the Stirling Ranges in Western Australia. Their business value-adds by growing feed, storing and processing grain for the 3300-head cattle feedlot and then selling into a variety of markets, including the Butterfield Beef label. Paul says that running cattle in feedlots requires a high degree of efficiency to ensure that each animal receives a ration of high-quality feed every day of the year. To provide security on the cost of supplying the large amounts of feed needed, Paul crops 3200ha, producing 4000 to 5000t of wheat for use on the farm and another 2000 to 3000t of canola, lupins, peas and oats, which is sold. He also buys 1000 to 3000t of wheat annually, depending on yield from his own farm. To feed 8000 to 10,000 cattle annually at 45 tonnes per day, Paul installed two 2200t silos to add to the four 450t silos built 15 years ago. The new silos have aeration, ensuring a more efficient harvest, as well as controlling stored- grain insects by lowered temperatures. Paul says that by installing aeration they were no longer hampered by the vagaries of the south coast weather and could extend the harvest window from 9am to 11pm. "This means labour management is more efficient, with the four extra staff we employ not engaged in 'maintenance' activities waiting for the weather to improve," Paul says. "We had never completed the program before Christmas in the past -- now we finish at least 10 days before the holiday period. "When the harvest starts in the morning, the grain moisture content can be as high as 15 per cent, but as the day progresses it drops to about 11 per cent, before climbing after dark to around 14.5 per cent. "The beauty of aeration is that moisture in the grains is transferred by air blowing through, which eventually equalises moisture throughout the silo, at the same time as cooling it to below 20˚C from a harvest temperature of 30˚C to 35˚C. "When we unload the grain for steeping before rolling, we always check the moisture content and it's never above 12.5 per cent." He also points out that the addition of aeration meant that they did not have to employ a contract harvester; now they harvest their crop with just one John Deere 9860. "We decided to invest in storage capacity, rather than expensive pits and elevators and we fill the silos with a 34.5-metre auger, transferring 25t of grain in 10 minutes." For many farmers the limitation to using aeration is the provision of sufficient power to run the fans. Paul has overcome this by installing a 112 KvA power pack, comprising a John Deere engine driving a Stamford generator to run the four 10-horsepower, in-line, centrifugal fans that deliver about 2.5 litres of air per second per tonne. "This also needs a staggered start for the fans, but is still a bit of a grunt for the generator," Paul says. The $15,000 unit uses 10 litres of diesel per hour and also runs the mill. Chris Newman, GRDC-supported technical officer with the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, recently visited 'Daniel's Well' and was impressed with the efficiency and management of the stored grain. “Being able to keep the grain below 20˚C slowed the development of stored-grain insects and the moving air made the environment very uncomfortable," Chris says. "Insects favour a warm, moist, stable environment in which to breed." Under cool conditions insects take longer to cycle from egg to adult. Since installing aeration Paul has not observed weevils in the grain and Chris has found grain insects only in the dust and residues on the outside of the silos. Paul has been so impressed with the value of aeration to his enterprise that he is now retrofitting aeration to four 450t silos. "The sweep auger in the silo presents a challenge that can be overcome by installing a removable duct," Paul says. He attached the tubular duct to a flexible section, which lies on the floor in line with the sweep auger. This allows the duct to be removed when it has been exposed by the sweep travelling halfway around and then it can be removed to complete out- loading. The fan is mounted on the outside of the silo, opposite the entry door. Chris is optimistic about the future of large- scale aeration for preserving grain quality. "It's a fantastic weapon growers can use to keep grain insects in low numbers, and there are all those other benefits, such as extending the harvest window, that are hard to ignore," he says. "Aeration should be considered a normal part of the investment process for grain storage and large-grain storage in particular." More information: GRDC-supported advisers -- Chris Newman, WA, 08 9366 2309; Philip Burrill, Queensland, 07 4660 3620; Peter Botta, Victoria, 03 5761 1647; Peter Fulwood, South Australia, 08 8568 6422; John Cameron, NSW, 02 9482 4930 tough get new 2008 varieties bred tough to yield Nu372 CanolaCote Healthier Plants - Healthier Profit www.nuseed.com.au high performance canola nuSEED ASSURED QUALITY NUQAS Nuseed is a registered trademark of Nufarm Australia Ltd. CanolaCote is a trademark of Nufarm Australia Ltd. All Nuseed canola varieties are protected under the Plant Breeders Rights Act 1994. DISCLAIMER: This publication is for information purposes only. Nuseed and its agents or employees shall not be liable for any loss or damage suffered by any person as a result of any reliance on any of the contents hereof, whether such loss or damage arises from the negligence or misrepresentation or any act or omission of Nuseed or its agents or employees. triazine tolerant canola ATRCobbler MATURITY YIELD OIL BLACKLEG VIGOUR PLANT HEIGHT RAINFALL ZONE Early - Early Mid +14%* vs ATR Stubby +1.3%* vs ATR Stubby NBR Rating 7.0P Rating 7.0 Medium Short 250-500mm ATR-Cobbler specifications *Average across all 2006 WA NVT TT canola yield trials & 2006 SA, Vic, NSW early NVT TT canola yield trials BRAVO TT 101.0 TORNADO TT 98.0 020406080100120 ATR STUBBY 103.0 ATR COBBLER 117.0 ATR-Cobbler *NVT yield results (% site mean) One of the four in-line aeration fans mounted on a 2200-tonne silo. PHOTOS: BRENDON CANT Paul O'Meehan with the 34.5-metre auger that transfers 25 tonnes of grain to the silo in 10 minutes.
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Ground Cover 073 March-April 2008 - North