June 20, 2024

Tracking every kernel: PTI adds grain storage research

‘This isn’t 1960 and 1970 corn we’re growing’

PONTIAC, Ill. — The Precision Technology Institute farm added more research opportunities with the installation of a grain storage system being used for the first time this fall.

“This is a fully-functioning grain storage, drying and handling facility for use on the PTI farm,” said Greg Trame, GSI director of technology sales.

“There are four storage bins, a hopper bottom wet bin, a tower with a wet and dry leg inside of it, a drive-over receiving pit with an overhead load-out tank above it. There’s a conveyor across the top of the four bins. This facility is set up so that from any point in or out you can get grain back to any other point at all times.”

Two of the bins feature GSI’s new GrainVue system that includes digital sensing cables to monitor temperature, moisture and inventory level. Sensors outside of the bin monitor the humidity and temperature of the outside air.

Trame said the system was designed to meet the needs of the research site that includes over 125 test plots across 400 acres.

“This is a research farm where Jason Webster (commercial agronomist and PTI director) kind of plays with all kinds of research and this will allow us to complete that chain. They’re doing all the work to get the crop to the combine, so we want to make sure we can effectively get it to the dryer and into storage and complete that research,” Trame noted.

“We know he’s out here growing 350 bushel to the acre corn, but how hard is it to dry that 350-bushel crop? The answer to that is hopefully in a few years we’re going to find that out and know a lot more about what’s going on.

“The agronomic practices are changing. The charts and everything we use to make grain dryers are from the 1960s and 1970s. This isn’t 1960 and 1970 corn we’re growing. This facility is really going to give us the opportunity to get much better insight as to kind of completing the chain.”

Moisture Trials

Webster looks forward to the research opportunities the grain system presents.

“One of the things I think that comes to the forefront here is how wet we harvest corn. A lot of farmers say they want the corn to dry-down naturally in the field, but we know when that happens, we have natural yield losses that occur with it,” Webster said.

“So, yes, with the price of propane, natural gas, things like that, there is a cost to drying, but one of my focuses is going to be what is that perfect corn moisture to harvest it. Does it matter if we’re in a high management area where we’ve thrown the kitchen sink to try to increase yield? Does highest test weight corn take more to dry that corn versus a lower management program?”

Webster also has some initial research ideas for soybeans.

“I think soybeans will also be interesting in two regards. One, can I harvest wet soybeans, dry them in the bin or on the other side can I bring in super dry soybeans and put moisture back in them to get the full 13% soybean?

“Lastly, overall, there’s the sensing aspect. Once we put the grain in there and it’s done, I want to monitor it to make sure it’s in good quality over the winter months. With the sensing system, we’ll be able to track virtually every kernel.”

Tom Doran

Tom C. Doran

Field Editor