Just bag it

February 2008 • CornSouth


Last year, Arkansas, Louisiana and West Virginia Extension services used and evaluated large bag technology, which was developed in South America, for temporarily storing corn in the field. The heavy-duty plastic bags are about nine feet in diameter and 200 feet long. Two pieces of equipment put the corn into the bags and later removed it. The equipment costs about $44,000, and each bag, which is used only one time, costs about $600 and holds 10,000 bushels of corn.

Arkansas Extension’s Dennis Gardisser, professor and associate department head-biological and agricultural engineering, says that after evaluating the sytem last season, those involved in the study have come up with a summary of their findings and recommendations and plan to publish a fact sheet in May.

“First, we’re gong to recommend that corn go into the bags at no higher moisture than 15.5 percent, which is the market premium,” he says. “In some cases, growers placed the corn in the bags at higher moisture levels, and as a result, pockets of grain within the length of the bag exhibited decomposition, high moisture levels and unsatisfactory storage.

“But, if a person let the grain dry int he field or has the ability to run it through a pass dryer to make sure the corn is at a relatively low moisture level, then we think the system is going to work fine,” Gardisser adds.


Another recommendation is to place the bag on terrain where there is no slope. The reason is that if it rains, and the bag crosses the slope, the bag will act as a dike and cause water to build up. If that happens, water will stand under the bag. If there are punctures or pin holes there, moisture will migrate into the bag.

Farmers are also urged to monitor the bags carefully. “We’re going to work with the thermometer manufacturers to build a probe that could be inserted into the bag at different locations with perhaps an insert tab that would provide an access door about the diameter of a pencil,” Gardisser explains.

Another tip is not to place the bag in a remote location, where it is more vulnerable to coyotes, deer and not-so-honest deer hunters who subscribe to the idea that the bag s open acces to deer feed. The point is to keep the bag intact because it needs to stay sealed in order to work properly.

“One farmer who used the bags had a few rodent problems because the bag was placed near an existing permanent bin/dryer facility,” he says. “He didn’t lose a lot of grain, but the rodents were a nuisance, and they did break the seal.”

In summary, Gardisser believes the bag system is a viable option for short term storage if it is managed properly.

“I was impressed by the equipment,” he says. “One unit actually carries the bag and fills it as you go along, and a separate unit that is connected to the bag unloads it. The system is well thought out.”

As for bag equipment durability, Gardisser says they need to work with the system for four or five years to see how the bags hold up before making that determination.

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