Grain Storage Training Module

Howard E Shepherd, Program Coordinator, Iowa Grain Quality Initiative


Ethanol processing, government farm program incentives for corn, and increased corn yields have contributed to a sudden increase in the need for corn storage in Iowa.  In the fall of 2004, there were many grain piles and other temporary grain storages utilized, with mixed success. Outdoor piles experienced up to 90% mold damage in some cases.  Since 2004, there has been a steady increase in storage construction, but not at the rate of increase in corn production.  A web-based training program was started in 2006. 

The IGQI has developed a web-based Grain Storage Training Module and has been active in promoting this cost analysis and reference tool in grain storage meetings. 


1.      Assemble and review projections for the amounts and locations of corn production, demand and usage during the study years and the five years beyond (through 2011).

2.      Project the needs for corn quality traits to meet shifting usage and storage patterns.

3.      Project the need and types of storage (maximum cost; minimum damage) that will be needed to meet usage patterns.

4.      Continue web-based programming for farmers, elevator operators and associated grain industry professionals in optimum storage structure design and quality grain management, given demand, cost and quality constraints.  Link with other training organizations where possible.  In 2008, the focus will be on spreadsheet based decision tools.


D.       Inventory of existing corn storage capacity, with projections for future needs, types, and locations for storage.

·       Monitor existing carryover and farm storage estimates from NASS statistics.

·       Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll – 2007 Survey Report on Grain Storage and Transportation – by Paul Lasley – Extension Sociologist was completed.

·       Data is included in the Grain Storage Training Module, posted on the IQGI web site.

E.      Estimates of the interaction among corn quality traits, changing user demands, and storage success/costs.

·       The Cost of Storing Grain – Ag Decision Maker spread sheet is incorporated into the Grain Storage Training Module.

·       Developing spread sheet Combine field capacity and harvest logistics for drying capacity.

F.      Spreadsheets to evaluate storage performance versus construction and operating costs.

·       The Grain Storage Training Module – Cost of storage equipment and construction costs were gathered from bin company contacts (Brock, GSI, and Hawkeye Steel).

G.      A major effort documented through web programs, meetings, and print materials to provide awareness and training for producers and elevator operators in current storage/quality needs and interactions.

Meetings and Presentations

·       Grain Management & Storage Strategies meeting – Sheldon, IA – 8 August 2007 – Storage Planning Web Module

·       Grain Management & Storage Strategies meeting – Dows, IA – 9 August 2007 – Storage Planning Web Module

·       AAI Visioning Committee – 142 Curtis Hall – 22 August 2007 – Storage Challenges for 2007 Crop

·       ANR – Hot Topics – Extension – 29 August 2007 – Storage Planning Web Module

·       Field Extension Storage workshops – Indianola, IA – 12 November 2007 – Storage Planning Web Module

·       Field Extension Storage workshop – Lynnville, IA – 13 November 2007 – Storage Planning Web Module

·       Field Extension Storage workshop – Conrad, IA – 14 November 2007 – Storage Planning Web Module

·       Field Extension Storage workshop – Ogden, IA – 15 November 2007 – Storage Planning Web Module

·       International Grain Quality and Technology Congress – Chicago, IL – 15 July 2008 – Storage Planning Web Module


·       Bumper Crops of Corn, Problems by the Bushel – The Wall Street Journal – 10 August 2007 – by Shelley Banjo

·       Grain Bin Upkeep Worth the Effort – Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier – 9 September 2007 – by Matthew Wielde

·       Grain Bin Upkeep Worth the Effort – Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier – 9 September 2007 – by Matthew Wielde – Reprinted in GEAPS In-Grain – September 2007

·       Ethanol’s Growing Pains – The Corn & Soybean Digest – 1 October 2007 – by Liz Morrison

H.      Comprehensive training modules (web and print) for traceability, bioterror rules and quality management systems.  Modules will individually target producers, handlers and processors.

·       Grain Storage Module – Training module, cost analysis for storing grain, cost analysis for construction of storage site, and reference material – final posting on IGQI website – 1 July 2008

Outcome Statement:

As more corn is used locally in fuel production, less is available for export, feed applications and other processing.  This has led to changes in grain transport, on-farm grain storage and the function of local grain elevators.

The target of the IGQI training module is on-farm grain storage, which was clearly defined by a survey of the Iowa Ethanol industry as the primary source of corn. The survey indicated 62 percent of the corn was coming directly from the farm to the ethanol plant, and that this share would not change as production capacities increased.

The IGQI added grain storage questions to the 2007 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll. The “2007 Survey Report on Grain Storage and Transportation,” reported that twelve percent of the Iowa Farmers intended to construct on-farm storage over the next three years, with an average of 30,000 bushels of new capacity. The addition of on-farm storage was a direct response to the demand for corn by the ethanol industry. Delivery or corn from on-farm storage will require greater attention to quality management and year long. This longer storage time will require better up front conditioning, and cleaner bins, and better air flow processes for storage.

The Grain Storage, Storage Cost and Training Module was developed including three concepts: The overall design of the module is a pick and choose flow model for decision making on what is needed to develop a storage site and what equipment would be best for the site. The grain flow model leads to a decision maker of what it will cost to construct storage options. The final section is market decision tools for cost of storing grain. The training module can be accessed from the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative web site,

The short term results were achieved in August 2007 when two extension meetings averaged 20 farm and elevator participants. Also, in November 2007 four extension meetings averaged 50 farm and elevator participants. The International Grain Quality and Technology Congress were attended by 180 participants for 18 different countries and many levels of business and academia.

The long term results will be to monitor the contacts to the Grain Storage and Training Module and address any questions from costumers using the training module.


100  Corn and Soybean Production

Page last updated: October 3, 2008
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,