Colin Fairweather, CEO, Facet Engineering
Harvested grain is usually fairly clean. Usually being the operative word, as this is dependent on a number of critical factors; the correct settings and capacity being used, the grain being dry, no heat damage taking place and kernels not being broken during the harvesting process – many factors, which are difficult to control. In addition the quality of grain begins to deteriorate as soon as it has been harvested, so it is imperative that dirt and impurities are removed to delay the deterioration process and ensure that the stored grain is of a high quality for end users.
It is therefore highly recommended that harvested grain is passed through a grain cleaner and/or pre-cleaner in order to ensure that the quality of the grain is optimised before it goes into storage.
Pre-cleaning grain before storage plays two vital roles:
- Adding value to the grain through the removal of dirt, impurities and damaged particles.
- Ensuring a longer life of the grain whilst it is in storage.
The importance of cleaning grain before storage is important for a few reasons. Foreign matter also referred to as fines (any dirt or particles smaller than the grain) can collect in areas inside the storage silo. These pockets of fines can cause hot spots inside the silo, which has a negative impact on the aeration of the grain. This can also result in moisture collecting in these areas, which can cause rot, mould and other damage to the grain.
The additional impurities also take up valuable storage space inside the silo – an unnecessary cost that can be avoided if the grain has been cleaned before being taken into storage. The impurities can also contain harmful or poisonous seeds or particles which can cause further damage, negatively affecting the quality of the grain.
Clean grain is of a higher quality and therefore fetches a better price than grain that is full of impurities. Even if a grain producer does not have their own storage facilities, clean grain will bring a higher return on investment for the producer. Grain that is rejected by a buyer or co-op usually results in the costs of cleaning and re-submitting to be carried by the seller, costs which can ultimately be avoided.
Grain cleaners are the first and most important piece of equipment used to clean any type of grain, seed or beans. When analysing all of the elements that can have an impact on grain quality, it makes good business sense for a grain producer to seriously consider procuring their own grain cleaner. It is estimated that the cost of a grain cleaner can generally be recouped over two to three seasons, making it a viable purchase, even for smaller grain producers.