Dirk Maier with his grain handbook
HELPFUL PLANNING GUIDE: “Whether you are going to build a new grain facility or add a bin or remodel, or are just thinking about it, you need to read this new handbook,” says Dirk Maier, ISU ag engineering professor and one of its authors.

Popular handbook on grain drying, handling updated

Publication from MidWest Plan Service is revised to reflect dealing with larger volumes of grain.

MidWest Plan Service has released an updated version of its “Grain Drying, Handling and Storage Handbook.” The publication was developed years ago to assist farmers, elevator managers, equipment dealers, students and others interested in planning and adding grain systems. Now in its third edition, the handbook has been substantially updated and expanded to reflect dealing with larger grain volumes that accumulate at on- and off-farm facilities more rapidly during harvest.

The last time the handbook was updated was 1987. “On-farm grain drying and storage has changed significantly as the capacity of equipment used and the amount of handling and storage taking place on the farm have increased,” says Dirk Maier, professor in ag and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University and the publication’s lead author.

“This handbook focuses on planning a new grain facility or expanding an existing one in order to keep up with harvest at a reasonable speed.”
chapters on safety, automation

Two new chapters dealing with the  safety and automation that comes with handling and storage facilities that are faster and larger have been added. “As capacity increases, everything is moving faster or is bigger,” notes Maier. “As more equipment runs at higher speeds, many farmers can do themselves what used to be done at a local elevator.”

The publication has chapters on planning guidelines for drying, handling and storage; locating and developing a grain center; safety and health; automation and control; and basic principles of equipment used for grain drying, handling and storage.

“Previous versions of the publication contained a number of topics that were relevant for when work was done in a smaller capacity and at a slower speed,” Maier explains. “We’ve added examples that are more representative of how grain is received today. Grain drying and storing systems need to have bigger driveways, scales and conveyors than they’ve had in the past to accommodate the volume of grain being processed.”

The chapter on safety considerations explains what the dangers are and how to avoid injuries and accidents when working with grain handling and storage equipment. The chapter on automation explains the new technology available for better monitoring of stored grain, and for aerating grain and controlling drying systems remotely.

Sensors can monitor and warn you about bearings heating up. All of this information can be displayed on a smartphone, tablet or computer. A revolution has occurred over the past 10 years in the technology being used.
upgrading current facility?

The publication is useful to help farmers who might be thinking of upgrading their grain handling and storage — or perhaps building an entirely new facility — to educate themselves before meeting with a design team.

“By consulting a handbook like this, farmers who might be considering expanding can get background material to have an informed conversation with whoever they are dealing with in laying out a system without locking themselves into something they don’t want from the beginning,” says Maier.

As you talk to equipment dealers and companies, this book can help you inform yourself beforehand and get up to date. Then as you engage with companies that can build a turnkey project, you know what to ask for and how to have that conversation. “You may get multiple bids, and you want to be able to compare those bids. That’s the kind of information you can gain from this handbook,” Maier adds.

All figures included in previous editions have been redrawn or replaced with new photos. The handbook is available in color for the first time. It costs $74 and can be ordered online.

Also available are online resources, such as spreadsheets, that complement the content of the new handbook. For more information, send email to [email protected] or call 515-294-4337.

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