Elevators are packed and so are our grain bins, but the crop has to come off before the snow starts to pile up. These frigid temps have left no opportunity for grain to dry out so fans have been constantly running on some farms. Drying grain isn’t cheap for most people, but there are a few ways to cut costs down:
1. Run in all-heat mode. This allows you to heat the grain in the dryer and cool it in the bin. The advantage of this is coming out of the dryer at a higher moisture content and then losing moisture points during the cooling process. The limitations of running in all-heat mode are the size of the bins. If your present dryer can’t run in all heat mode consider upgrading to new all-heat dryer.
2. Upgrade to vacuum cooling or heat recovery. For larger operations it’s more efficient for grain to come out of the dryer cool, that’s where vacuum cooling or heat recovery can make a big difference. In vacuum cooling, heat that is given off by the cooling grain is cycled into the drying process. Less fuel is required to raise the drying air temperature. Think about using a remote system, these ensure that the dryer is running efficiently.
3. Drying grain evenly. Different options are available to help dry grain more evenly. Stacked dryers use a grain cross-over system that takes grain from one side of the dryer to the other module. Sukup tower dryers use a grain exchanger system halfway down the heat chamber. Another option is GSI’s grain inverters, which move all grain to eliminate over dried grain and to maximize drying efficiency. The inverters redirect the warmest grain from the inside of the column next to the wettest grain at the outside of the column which is dried from the captured heat.
4.Run at higher plenum temperature. Running at a higher temperature reduces the drying time and saves fuel. Each dryer’s airflow and column management is different so you have to balance efficiently. Grain needs to be dried to a safe moisture level so drying beyond moisture level can eat up extra energy and over dry the grain.
5. Maintenance. Empty, clean, test, run. Consistent maintenance will go a long ways to reduce costs.
6. Different hybrids. Different drying levels. Drying depends on the type of grain, closely monitor your dryer when you change fields and varieties.
7. Moisture controls. Pull samples to check moisture and make sure moisture and temperatures are where they need to be.
8. Energy audit. Sometimes you need another set of eyes who is willing to come out and look at your operation as a whole. One way in doing this is by getting and energy audit by talking to your local NRCS department.
Do you have any more ideas you incorporate on your farm to cut drying costs?
-McKenzy Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team