Interim expansion strategy offers option to meet grain storage challenges

Many farmers who have experienced large grain harvests in recent seasons now realize they need more grain storage capacity as they look ahead to anticipated production for 2017.

Installing a completely new grain storage system is a good long-term solution for expanding capacity and improving efficiency. However, for farmers who may be facing budget or time constraints this season, another option is an interim expansion strategy to help meet 2017 grain storage needs, according to GSI (Grain Systems, Inc.).

Gary Woodruff, GSI conditioning applications manager, said there are cost-effective strategies to add more capacity for this season in a way that also enables new grain handling/storage equipment to be incorporated into a future new system on adjacent land.

“A short-term, interim expansion this year can meet anticipated grain storage needs for 2017 more quickly and at a significantly lower cost than planning and installing a completely new grain storage system, yet still provide the components of a future new system,” Woodruff said.

With careful planning and strategic choices in grain handling equipment, Woodruff says a storage or drying expansion now may become part of a later, larger system next to today’s outdated installation.

Noting there are products that lend themselves to this type of expansion, following are Woodruff’s recommendations to meet 2017 storage needs:

  • More bin capacity — If the site allows, farmers can add one or more storage bins next to their existing storage operation and later those new bins and a new driveway on the other side can be the start to a new, more efficient storage system. The extra storage will also allow the capture of extra income from the basis and carry by holding grain until spring or late summer. Generally, a single larger bin has a lower cost per bushel than multiple smaller bins. However, smaller bins might be required if different crops need to be stored separately.
  • Grain handling — A new conveyor system may be needed to move grain into the new bin or bins. Conventional augers have the lowest cost, but are low capacity and higher in maintenance. Chain drag conveyor systems are a great option, but they are the most expensive. In comparison, a much lower-cost, more versatile alternative is a tube chain conveyor, such as GSI’s VersaLoop, which can span large distances without a support structure, doesn’t require a catwalk, offers high grain-moving capacity and efficiency and is easily expanded later. In some cases, a pneumatic air system can be used to move grain past the reach of the existing grain leg and be moved and utilized in the future system.
  • New dryer — A stackable portable dryer may be a good option because it can increase drying capacity today and be expanded by 30% to 85% or more in the future with additional modules.

Woodruff notes that the cost of an interim expansion project will vary by farm, depending on current and future capacity needs.

“However, this two-step approach provides a much lower upfront cost, and is an investment that will support a future new system,” he said.

For more information, farmers can contact their GSI dealer or visit

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