Work Safely Around Grain

Source:Ken Hellevang, NDSU Extension Agricultural Engineer (Edited)

OK, so maybe it’s too wet to be in the field. While we are waiting on a little bit of cooperation from Mother Nature, we may be keeping busy doing other things  like hauling grain.  As you empty your bins keep these safety tips in mind!

Make sure everyone working around stored grain understands the hazards and proper safety procedures.

Using appropriate safety practices when working around grain is vital.

“Make sure everyone, including family and employees, working around stored grain understands the hazards and proper safety procedures,” North Dakota State University Extension Service agricultural engineer Ken Hellevang says.

“Too many people ignore safety practices and suffer severe injury or death while working around grain,” he adds. “They get trapped in grain, tangled in auger flighting, or develop respiratory problems from exposure to grain dust and mold particles.”

Grain Bin Dangers

Never enter a bin while unloading grain or to break up a grain bridge. Flowing grain will pull you into the grain mass, burying you within seconds.

Stop the grain-conveying equipment and use the “lock-out/tag-out” procedures to secure it before entering the bin. Use a key-type padlock to lock the conveyor switch in the “off” position to assure that the equipment does not start automatically or someone does not start it accidentally.

Bridging occurs when grain is high in moisture content, moldy or in poor condition. The kernels stick together and form a crust. A cavity will form under the crust when grain is removed from the bin. The crust isn’t strong enough to support a person’s weight, so anyone who walks on it will fall into the cavity and be buried under several feet of grain.

“To determine if the grain is bridged, look for a funnel shape on the surface of the grain mass after some grain has been removed,” Hellevang advises. “If the grain surface appears undisturbed, the grain has bridged and a cavity has formed under the surface.”

Stay outside the bin and use a pole or other object to break the bridge loose.

If the grain flow stops when you’re removing it from the bin but the grain surface has a funnel shape and shows some evidence that grain has been flowing into the auger, a chunk of spoiled grain probably is blocking the flow. Entering the bin to break up the blockage will expose you to being buried in grain and tangled in the auger.

If grain has formed a vertical wall, try to break it up from the top of the bin with a long pole on a rope or through a door with a long pole. A wall of grain can collapse, or avalanche, without warning, knocking you over and burying you.

Follow recommended storage management procedures to minimize the potential for crusting or bridging and chunks of grain blocking unloading.

Also, never enter a grain bin alone. Have at least two people at the bin to assist in case of problems. Use a safety harness when entering a bin.

Rescuing a Trapped Person

If someone gets trapped:

  • Shut off all grain-moving equipment.
  • Contact your local emergency rescue service or fire department.
  • Ventilate the bin using the fan.
  • Form a retaining wall around the person using a rescue tube or plywood, sheet metal or other material to keep grain from flowing toward the person, then remove grain from around the individual. Walking on the grain pushes more grain onto the trapped person.
  • Don’t try to pull a person out of grain. The grain exerts tremendous forces, so trying to pull someone out could damage the person’s spinal column or cause other damage.
  • Cut holes in the bin sides to remove grain if the person is submerged. Use a cutting torch, metal-cutting power saw or air chisel to cut at least two V- or U-shaped holes on opposite sides or more holes equally spaced around the bin. Grain flowing from just one hole may injure the trapped person and cause the bin to collapse.

Dust, Mold Pose Health Hazards

Even low-level exposure to dust and mold can cause symptoms such as wheezing, a sore throat, congestion, and nasal or eye irritation.

Higher concentrations can cause allergic reactions and trigger asthma episodes and other problems. Typical symptoms include shortness of breath; burning eyes; blurry vision; light sensitivity; a dry, hacking cough; and skin irritation. People may experience one or a combination of these symptoms.

In rare cases, severe symptoms, such as headaches, aches and pains, and/or fever, may develop. People’s sensitivity varies based on the amount and type of mold. In addition, certain types of molds can produce mycotoxins, which increase the potential for health hazards from exposure to mold spores.

The minimum protection for anyone working around moldy grain should be an N-95-rated facemask, according to Hellevang. This mask has two straps to hold it firmly to the face and a metal strip over the nose to create a tight seal. A nuisance-dust mask with a single strap will not provide adequate protection, he says.

Other Dangers

Getting tangled in the unloading sweep auger is another major hazard. Entanglement typically results in lost feet, hands, arms, legs and frequently death due to the severe damage.

Although you shouldn’t enter a bin with an energized sweep auger, it may be necessary in some instances, Hellevang says. All sweep augers should have guards that protect against contact with moving parts at the top and back. The only unguarded portion of the sweep auger should be the front point of operation.

If someone must go into the bin, make sure to have a rescue-trained and equipped observer positioned outside the storage bin. Use a safety switch that will allow the auger to operate only while the worker is in contact with the switch.

Never use your hands or legs to manipulate the sweep auger while it’s in operation. The auger should have a bin stop device that prevents the sweep auger from making uncontrolled rotations.

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Grain Marketing Webinars Offered

Do you want to do a better job of pricing your corn and soybeans? Is grain marketing a confusing and daunting task? If so, this webinar is for you!

Ohio State University Extension is offering a two-session webinar focused on helping farmers become better grain marketers. Participants will have a better understanding of risk, marketing tools, and the development of written marketing plans. These workshops are funded through a North Central Risk Management Education Grant.  Additional information can be found at http://go.osu.edu/grainplan.

Participants will learn to identify their personal risk tolerance and their farm’s financial risk capacity. Both of these are important in developing a successful grain marketing plan. Participants will also learn how crop insurance products effect marketing decisions and effect risk capacity. Grain marketing consists of understanding and managing many pieces of information. Information on the different grain marketing contracts will be presented. These include basis, hedging, cash, futures, and option contracts.  Additionally, participants will be provided an example of a grain marketing plan and the fundamental principles that should be included.

The courses will be offered on two consecutive Tuesdays, starting on March 12, 2019.  For specific times, as well as program registration instruction, go to http://go.osu.edu/grainwebinar. Cost for the program is $30.00.

To request additional information or have questions answered, contact Amanda Bennett at 937-440-3945 or at bennett.709@osu.edu

Farm Bill Deal Includes Key Commodity Program Changes

Source: AgWeb.com

Key changes:

  • Adjusted loan rates
  • Annual choice between ARC and PLC
  • Opportunity to update yield data
  • Grassland to be removed from base acres

The four key ag committee leaders announced agreement in principle on a final farm bill Thursday. That deal includes some key changes to the Commodity Title of the bill, including adjustments sought by farm groups, according to Pro Farmer Washington Analyst Jim Wiesemeyer.

The first key change according to Wiesemeyer comes in a provision to increase loan rates while allowing for an annual election between the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. Under the previous farm bill, growers made a single selection between the two programs for the life of the farm bill.

Click here to read more ….

2018 Farm Sector Income Forecast, November

Source:  USDA ERS

Net farm income, a broad measure of profits, is forecast to decrease $9.1 billion (12.1 percent) from 2017 to $66.3 billion in 2018, after increasing $13.8 billion (22.5 percent) in 2017. Net cash farm income is forecast to decrease $8.5 billion (8.4 percent) to $93.4 billion. In inflation-adjusted 2018 dollars, net farm income is forecast to decline $10.8 billion (14.1 percent) from 2017 after increasing $13.0 billion (20.2 percent) in 2017. If realized, inflation-adjusted net farm income would be 3.3 percent above its level in 2016, which was its lowest level since 2002.

See a summary of the forecasts in the table U.S. farm sector financial indicators, 2011-2018F, or see all data tables on farm income and wealth statistics.

Net farm income and net cash farm income, 2000-18F

[In the text below, year-to-year changes in the major aggregate components of farm income are discussed only in nominaldollars unless the direction of the change is reversed when looking at the component in inflation-adjusted dollars.]

Summary Findings

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Converting Wet Corn Weight to Dry Corn Weight

by: R.L. (Bob) Nielsen, Purdue University

Corn is often harvested at grain moisture contents higher than the 15% moisture typically desired by grain buyers. Wetter grain obviously weighs more than drier grain and so grain buyers will “shrink” the weight of “wet” grain (greater than 15% moisture) to the equivalent weight of “dry” grain (15% moisture) and then divide that weight by 56 to calculate the market bushels of grain they will purchase from the grower. The two sources of weight loss due to mechanical drying are 1) that due to the loss of grain moisture itself and 2) the anticipated weight loss due to dry matter loss during the grain drying and handling processes (e.g., broken kernels, fines, foreign materials).

An exact value for the handling loss, sometimes called “invisible shrink”, is difficult to predict and can vary significantly from one grain buyer to another. For a lengthier discussion on grain weight shrinkage due to mechanical drying, see Hicks & Cloud, 1991.

The simple weight loss due to the removal of grain moisture represents the greatest percentage of the total grain weight shrinkage due to drying and is easily calculated using a handheld calculator or a smartphone calculator app. In general terms, you first convert the “wet” weight (greater than 15% moisture) to absolute dry weight (0% moisture). Then you convert the absolute dry weight back to market-standard “dry” weight at 15% grain moisture.

Concept:

  1. For example, if the initial grain moisture content is 20%, then the initial percent dry matter content is 80% (e.g., 100% – 20%). NOTE: The initial percent dry matter content varies depending on the initial grain moisture content.
  2. If the desired ending grain moisture content is 15% (the typical market standard), then the desired ending percent dry matter content is 85% (100% – 15%).
  3. Multiply the weight of the “wet” grain by the initial percent dry matter content, then divide the result by the desired ending percent dry matter content.

Example:

  1. 100000 lbs of grain at 20% moisture = 80000 lbs of absolute dry matter (i.e., 100000 x 0.80).
  2. 80000 lbs of absolute dry matter = 94118 lbs of grain at 15% moisture (i.e., 80000 / 0.85).
  3. 94118 lbs of grain at 15% moisture = 1681 bu of grain at 15% moisture (i.e., 94118 / 56).

One take-home reminder from this little exercise is the fact that the grain trade allows you to sell water in the form of grain moisture… up to a maximum market-standard 15% grain moisture content (or 14% for long term storage). In other words, if you deliver corn to the elevator at grain moisture contents less than 15%, you are “losing” bushels. Take advantage of this fact and maximize your “saleable” grain weight by delivering corn grain to the elevator at moisture levels no less than 15% moisture content.

Will the 2018 Corn Crop Get Smaller?

Source:  Todd Hubbs, University of Illinois

December corn prices approached contract lows not seen since the second week of July as August ended.  The continued weakness in corn prices persists despite 2018-19 marketing year projections of stocks to use near eleven percent.  The August Crop Production report forecasted 2018 corn production at 14.586 billion bushels with a yield of 178.4 bushels per acre.  Recently, the corn yield forecast has come under scrutiny due to the latest industry estimates predicting yields below the current projection.  The question is whether the corn production forecast will change enough to result in higher prices than those currently reflected in the market.

The USDA forecast for the 2018 U.S. average corn yield in August sits at 178.4 bushels, approximately seven bushels above the estimated linear trend from 1960.  Using data since 1997, the change in the yield forecast from August to September declined in 11 of those years.  The decline exceeded one bushel in five of those years and dropped more than two bushels in four years.  The quick maturity for the crop this year combined with a decrease in the combination of good and excellent ratings over the last month from 70 to 68 percent provide some support for this speculation.  By comparing crop progress for years since 1997, seven years witnessed the national crop at the current 61 percent of dent this early in the year.  Of those years, three years saw final corn yield above the trend projection.  When one excludes the drought year of 2012, the average corn yield for the remaining six years came in at 0.3 bushels above the estimated linear trend from 1960 to 2017.  If the average deviation calculated above came to fruition this year, the national average yield would be approximately 172 bushels per acre.

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