Friday 17th Jul, 2020

Drying and cooling grain with ease

Ag Growth International plans to introduce a three-in-one cooling, drying, and storage silo to the Australian market to help local operators expand their infrastructure.

Removing the conditions that microorganisms thrive in helps keep grain in good condition for longer and protects crops from spoiling

In regions such as the United States and Canada, the practice is widespread – especially thanks to the large corn and soy industries that require conditioning it in large quantities. However, according to Peter Forster, Business Manager at agricultural infrastructure provider Ag Growth International (AGI), drier climates such as Australia also have as much need for the process

“Our air in Australia is quite dry in regions we can use, meaning we don’t just dry grain but cool as well,” he says.

“As a result, certain sectors such as the sorghum or macadamia industries have not been able to access drying technology they require on a scale that suits them. Large industrial drying plants are often overkill for these operators and won’t provide a great return on investment.”

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AGI’s response to this is the Ezee Dry Rooftop Grain Drying System. Originally introduced in the US in the 1970s, the system places a grain dryer on top of a bin, combining the capabilities of a drying bin, cooling bin and storage bin into one package.

As grain is dried, it is dumped into the storage system below, reducing the need to include a dedicated dryer in an operation.

Keaton Frieson, Engineering Manager at MFS, says the system is excellent for operations looking to start developing their infrastructure.

“Its low initial costs allow you to add grain drying capabilities to an operation easily and affordably,” he says.

“The Ezee Dry offers an expandable system which allows you to grow your infrastructure without many moving parts, making the system easy to use and learn. It also requires very low maintenance, keeping operations costs manageable and reduces the need for replacement and spare parts.”

Two main grain drying methods are available with the Ezee Dry – batch drying and continuous flow. Batch drying involves dumping a single batch of grain into the upper drying section of the system, where fans and heaters force hot air through an even layer of wet grain in the drying chamber.

Heat from previously dried grain is captured by outside air from the cooling fan and combined with aeration air to help dry the following batch, reducing energy costs.

When grain is dried to the specified temperature, fans and heaters stop operating and dump chutes are opened – either manually or automatically – to allow the grain to fall into the storage and cooling area, after which the drying chamber can be filled again for the next batch.

Ezee Dry can also operate with a continuous flow, which provides a 24-hour, automatic operation. Under this method, grain is continuously dumped into the Ezee Dry, where the fans and heaters force hot air through the layers of grain at varying depths in the drying chamber.

When the grain is dried to the specified temperature, a set amount of hot grain is dumped and the chamber is refilled until there is no more wet grain. Temperature sensors in the grain column control an electric motor with hydraulic cylinder to automatically open and close dump spouts.

Frieson says the Ezee Dry system has reduced the amount of grain movement required in a facility, simplifying how operators dry and process grain.

“There has been a lot of development of the system over the years to make it more efficient and effective, primarily around the fan and heaters to get a large amount of airflow through the ductwork and provide heat,” he says.

“The aeration system we’ve added to the drying ductwork is located on the side of the system, meaning there is no need for a separate pad of concrete. This lets the Ezee Dry be installed in a number of locations a standalone dryer wouldn’t fit.”

A number of design features are included in the Ezee Dry system to improve efficiency. For example, the use of solid eave flashing, instead of using perforation, forces air to move through the grain, speeding up the drying process and saving energy. It also makes the cleaning process easier and extends the life of the bin.

Dump chutes in the lower roof help to ensure even distribution of hot grain in the storage bin. By using gravity instead of belts or augurs, it reduces maintenance costs.

“Currently, we’re working on adding AGI SureTrack capabilities to the control system, which will allow operators to use a mobile device to monitor and control the system,” Frieson adds.

AGI SureTrack enables farmers to make the most of the resources they have and assists producers to effectively manage inventories. It uses data to inform seed selection, irrigation and field management decisions and grain management.

Forster says AGI offers the technology through its local dealer network in Australia, which includes Allied Grain Systems and Harberger farm products.

“We work closely with our distributors to provide local expertise and support. They can draw on AGI’s global resources to help answer questions and provide solutions,” he says.

“They’re able to modify anything in order to meet the local standards and will provide spare parts and after sales support.”