Managing Grain for the Bio-economy and Protecting the Environment

Kris Kohl, Field Specialist-Ag Engineering; and Ron Hook, Field Specialist-Farm Management; Northwest Area

Problem Statement:

The Bio-economy has changed the use of Iowas corn crop. For the past several decades 2/3s of Iowas corn crop has been exported out of the state with a great deal being exported overseas. Ethanol, a motor fuel derived from corn has changed the destination of much of Iowas crop to local sources. Corn will continue to be processed locally requiring more storage and management. It is projected that by crop year 2010 all of the corn crop will be fed or processed within the state. This will require an increase in storage and management, to accommodate this massive change in the use of corn. Producers need to find good ways to manage and store corn for the bio-economy until the needed infrastructure is in place.  Corn that spoils is a loss for the producer and is an environmental concern that can cause damage to waters of the state.

Programmatic Response:

To meet the need of producers and grain managers, ISU Extension developed a program to manage grain for short and long-term storage. The program was presented at several sites across Iowa. Management considerations included drying and cooling grain in bins, bunkers and piles. Calculations on the volume of grain and the time required to dry or cool grain keeping it in condition and preventing spoiling.


Seventeen farmers and grain managers attended an educational meeting in Northwest Iowa. Their response to surveys indicted that 86% learned for the first time how to use the Ag Decision Maker program to evaluate the comparative cost to build new storage. All indicated that they plan to start using this program to evaluate the returns for additional storage and evaluate where they will receive the highest returns. All of the producers also indicated that they were maintaining their grain in a condition that is of high enough standards to meet the ethanol quality and delivery time requirements and that they plan to continue to meet this standard.

About half the attendees learned new information about building temporary storage piles and how to maintain the quality for up to 5 months, though only about 30% plan to use piles in the future to store their grain.  They plan to store and manage there crop through spring into summer where the higher premiums exist.

Half of the producers increased their knowledge of drying, cooling and maintaining the quality of stored corn and all of them plan to use that knowledge to maintain the corn for the future. Producers will use ISU Extensions information to improve their skills in marketing and managing corn tor the emerging bio-economy.    Preserving the grain in good conditions prevents environmental damage from leachate from spoiling grain. 

160  Natural Resources and Stewardship

Page last updated: January 10, 2008
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