Evaluating Grain Storage Strategies and Costs with Ag Marketing Clubs

Kapil Arora, Field Specialist-Agricultural Engineering and Steve Johnson, Field Specialist-Farm Management, Central Area

Problem Statement:

Iowas emerging Bio-economy is shifting the use of corn and soybean crops towards ethanol and bio-diesel production.  With more corn acres being planted in 2007 and this upward trend expected to continue in future years, there will be a need for more grain storage.  As more corn goes into ethanol production and is processed locally, it means more local storage and management will be needed for such grain that serves as a base ingredient.  Each storage and management strategy presents unique cost considerations for producers and other stakeholders.

Programmatic Response:

ISU Extension developed and delivered a program on how to manage grain for short and long-term storage, and the associated costs for on-farm, commercial, and condominium storage.  The program, conducted during November 2007, was presented at Lynnville, Conrad, Indianola, and Ogden in Central Iowa.  Engineering considerations evaluated in the program consisted of drying and cooling strategies for grain in bins, temporary storage strategies for both covered and uncovered piles, and applicable science for keeping grain in good condition and preventing spoilage. Costs evaluations considered in the program included the use of Ag Decision Maker program for the comparative costs to build new storage on-farm, store grain commercially at an elevator or in a condominium.


Over 140 producers, grain elevator managers, grain merchandisers, and Ag loan officers attended the four educational workshops in Central Iowa.  Responses to the end-of-the-meeting sample survey showed all participants planning to use the Ag Decision Maker program for cost evaluations of different choices prior to making decision on adding on-farm storage. Over 90% indicated learning how to use the Grain Storage Investment Comparison Spreadsheet for their grain management program.   

All respondents indicated that they learned quality standard requirements for delivery of grain to ethanol plants.  Over 60% of the respondents indicated learning temporary storage strategies for both covered and un-covered piles and how to maintain the quality in such storage situations. Over 50% of the respondents indicated that the program increased their knowledge of applicable science for grain drying and cooling, keeping grain in good condition, and preventing spoilage.


120 - Farm and Business Management

Page last updated: April 11, 2008
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