According to Purdue Extension's Agricultural Safety Program, out-of-condition grain is the most frequent cause of grain entrapments and engulfment.

"Cleaning grain and coring the bin to remove fines, leveling binned grain and using appropriate drying and handling methods all reduce broken kernels and fines, and reduce the chance you will need to enter the bin when you unload the grain," Ileleji said.

• Aeration: This is the method of cooling grain with ambient air after drying it to decrease insect activity and mold development. Growers need to run bin fans to reduce grain temperature to below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and maintain cool temperatures into the late spring and summer. Using exhaust vents also will help control condensation on the inside roof and headspace walls of grain bins.

• Monitor: Farmers need to monitor their stored grain at a frequency determined by the initial grain quality, moisture content, temperature and whether there has been extreme weather. The higher the ambient temperature, the more frequently bins should be checked. In fall, spring and summer, they need to be checked every 1-2 weeks. In winter, that can be reduced to once a month.

When checking stored grain, growers with temperature cables should monitor for gradual temperature increases over time, rather than absolute temperature. If there are no temperature cables or CO2 sensors available, Ileleji said the smell of spoilage when fans are running is a good indicator there's a problem.

"Keep detailed records with dates and what was monitored," he said. "Remember, it is the trends in data that help diagnose a problem and not the data collected at a given time."

Purdue Extension offers a grain management bulletin through The Education Store.The two-page publication, Maximizing Grain Quality and Profits, (ID-207) can be downloaded for free. It offers information about post-harvest integrated pest management strategy to preserve grain quality.


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