We live in a technological world that seems to be changing faster than we can keep up with. Despite humanity’s tendency to become nostalgic about “the good old days,” technological change is a wonderful thing, and agriculture has always been at the forefront of harnessing the power of human ingenuity.
Seed/grain storage is a great example.
Over the past 30 years we have seen bins change from small, square, wooden flat-bottomed structures holding 1,200 bushels in the early 1960s to galvanized flat storage bins, where a large bin held anywhere from 2,000-25,000 bushels by the 1980s.
In the 1990s, aerated hopper-bottom bins with sizes growing to 4,000 bushels became very popular, but were looked upon as a luxury.
The hopper bottom is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for a number of reasons. Storage control, labor savings and return on investment (in most cases hopper-bottom bins increase in value over time) are all major reasons for this. We are also moving to bigger sizes in both hopper and flat storage because storage capacities and requirements are becoming larger all the time.
All of these changes, however, simply allow us to satisfy our age-old need for storage faster and more effectively. The concept of on-farm storage has remained mostly the same for decades because, typically, market prices are at their lowest in the fall, so for the best profitability it is important to have control of seed/grain so that the market and time of sale can be chosen.
Shifting weather patterns/climate change also require us to think of new ways to store product. We are seeing a shift in producers wanting to set up grain handling systems with high capacity grain dryers so that the producer can start his harvest earlier in order to overcome the challenges of a wet fall and early frost. Grain drying and aeration including temperature control is also vital because of this.
Storage is one aspect of agricultural production that has never fundamentally changed, and has always been key to financially successful farming operations. In fact, focusing on storage can establish you as a leader on your farm and in your circle of colleagues in the ag sphere. See my next column for insights.