Machinery Matters: Evaluate Grain Handling After Harvest

With harvest wrapping up and fresh in your mind, it’s a good time to assess your on-farm grain handling. Ask yourself if it was efficient and consider changes that could be made for 2017.

Was the grain cart adequately sized for your operation and did harvest run smoothly? Will you need larger grain carts in the future or to add a semi to the operation? Consider the capacity needed for your operation, design and speed.

Adding the right size grain cart can make a big difference in getting the crop out sooner and in wet conditions and making harvest more efficient, allowing combine operators to unload on-the-go and keep the combine running.

Is a larger grain cart needed? The larger the combine, the larger the grain cart size that is needed.

Also, make sure your tractor is large enough and has enough horsepower to haul the grain cart when full. High-capacity carts can carry at least 1,000 bushels of grain, the size needed to fill a semi.

However, you’ll need to choose the right size that works with your combine size and your operation.

Assess how your operation will grow or change in the future. Also consider the features you need in a grain cart. Auger design is important. Consider whether the cart will need to have either one or two unloading augers. Also consider the auger diameter size to make sure it meets your unloading needs. Check the speed at which the carts can be unloaded.

Other considerations include the design and weight of the grain cart and its effect on fields and compaction issues.

In addition, new technology is always being added. Check for manufacturers that offer the new features that may fit with your operations.

Grain storage and drying

Consider how grain drying went this year. The investment in a new dryer or even a completely new grain storage system can be significant, so farmers often need more than a year to plan.

Again, take a look at what the future may hold. Choose a system and site that is not limited by space. The construction, design and location are all important.

A poorly designed on-farm grain storage system may increase labor, reduce efficiency and create safety issues that a well-planned system avoids.

When planning an on-farm grain storage system, one of the most important steps is taking into account future expansion needs, according to Gary Woodruff, conditioning applications manager for GSI.

“Farmers should always assume there will be growth in yield and bushels,” Woodruff says. “Always anticipate expanding and have a well-thought-out plan that factors in growth and future technology changes.”

New construction

When considering a new on-farm grain storage system, GSI and the University of Missouri Extension offered several considerations. Grain storage facilities should not create bottlenecks that cause less than optimum performance of a combine or trucks, so first, the site must be easily accessible, have electricity and be well-drained.

An on-farm grain storage system ideally should be located on a highway that allows farmers to haul grain year-round without road restrictions. A good highway site should either have access to natural gas, which is the most economical fuel source, or allow easier delivery of the more available LP gas.

A highway location is also more likely to have three-phase power available, which allows operation of much larger machines and motors. For smaller systems, single phase power may be sufficient, but more power will be needed as the system expands.

Here are more considerations:

New machinery

Earlier this year, Kinze introduced the 1,051-bushel single-auger grain cart that features a front-folding corner auger, frame design, adjustable spout, 20-inch Ultraflyte auger, low ground-pressure radial tires, torque-limiting clutch, powder-coat finish, 20-bolt hubs and pit-dump door. This cart has a frame design to improve line-of-sight of both combine and cart spouts. Radial tires were added to reduce compaction. For more information, visit

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