Five tips for planning an efficient grain system

Farmers work hard all season to get the most yield on every acre. Jay McGahey, GSI regional sales director, said a well-planned grain system is essential to protect stored grain quality, promote efficiency and help avoid any safety issues.

McGahey offers five key factors to consider when designing a new grain system. 

  1. Location — If possible, locate a grain system near a state highway or other major roadway to be able to haul grain year-round without road restrictions. “In addition, having a system in close proximity to your fields will reduce transportation time and fuel costs and can also lead to a cut in the number of trucks your operation needs,” he said.
  • Future expansion — Grain yields have been increasing in recent years, requiring more storage. Planning for growth upfront will lead to better decisions about current as well as future equipment needs — including the number and capacity of grain bins, conveyors and dryers that will be needed. “Always include additional space in the layout of a new system to accommodate more equipment as the operation grows,” McGahey said.
  • Power — Three-phase power is needed for operating large machines and motors in today’s larger grain systems. “It’s really a necessity for high-capacity dryers because of the large amount of grain coming into these systems,” he said. In areas where three-phase power is not available, a phase convertor can be used to run three-phase motors and engines from existing single-phase power sources. Single-phase power may be sufficient for smaller grain systems, but more power may be needed to meet future growth.  
  • Traffic patterns — Plan the grain system layout to ensure efficient traffic patterns for equipment loading and unloading. “The goal is to avoid bottlenecks,” McGahey said. “The worst thing is a tractor or truck stuck idling or a combine waiting for a truck to get back.” He recommends taking time in the design phase to simulate loading and unloading in order to reduce potential delays. 
  • Build new or expand? — Farmers are often faced with the decision of expanding an existing grain system or building a new one. McGahey said expansion can be a good option if there is adequate space and new components can be efficiently integrated with the existing equipment. “On the other hand, capacity can be a limiting factor in many older systems,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not financially feasible to expand an outdated system.”

For additional information, McGahey encourages farmers to work with their grain system dealers or contact local ag university resources. To learn more about GSI grain system equipment, visit

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