In-Field Grain Bagging May Increase Harvest Efficiency

In-Field Grain Bagging May Increase Harvest Efficiency

Grain bagger in field
Several commercial grain baggers are available. Dan Englund of Holdrege uses a Flex Stor® polyethylene bagger and grain bag unloader distributed by Titan Manufacturing in Holdrege. (Photo by Todd Whitney)

Oct. 30, 2015

Tips for Using Grain Storage Bags

Storage in a poly bag is a good storage option, but it does not prevent mold growth or insect infestations.
  • Grain should be dry when placed in a grain bag or at recommended storage moisture contents based on grain and outdoor temperatures. Heating will occur if the grain exceeds a safe storage moisture content. The average temperature of dry grain will follow the average outdoor temperature.
  • Select an elevated, well-drained location with the surface prepared to prevent the bags from being punctured, and run the bags north and south so solar heating is similar on both sides of the bags.
  • Wildlife can puncture the bags, creating an entrance for moisture and releasing the grain smell, which attracts more wildlife. Monitor the grain temperature at several locations in the bags and repair punctured bags.
  • Never enter a grain bag as it is a suffocation hazard. If unloading the bag with a pneumatic grain conveyor, the suction can “shrink wrap” a person so they cannot move and will limit space for breathing.

Also see Pros and Cons of Alternative Grain Storage Methods in the August 25, 2015 CropWatch.
Ken Hellevang
Extension Engineer, North Dakota State University

With this harvest season there was increased use of temporary in-field grain storage bags in west central Nebraska and areas where seed corn would have normally been produced and immediately delivered. The 300-foot long polyethylene bags offer many advantages for short-term storage.

Daren Englund, a Holdrege grain producer and early adopter of the in-field storage bag, says the main reason their farm began using them was the increased harvest efficiency. Instead of needing semi-trucks during harvest, they could harvest fairly efficiently with just two people, Englund said. Daren runs their 1,100-bushel capacity grain cart, while his father, Lee Englund, operates their 12-row combine.

Polyethylene bags are now used to store silage, grain and even fertilizer. Some attribute the dairy industry as the earliest bag adopters with silage storage; while others credit the Canadians as the first grain baggers with canola storage

The Englunds leased equipment and started bagging their grain in 2008. Three years ago they invested in their own equipment.

Daren highly recommends online training videos on YouTube to learn about how to properly use the grain bagging loading and unloading equipment.

As early adopters, the Englunds learned much by experimentation. For example, the “stop filling line” marker on some bags may not work well for all farmers. Daren says that they stop adding grain when there are about four folds left on the polyethylene bag. This will allow enough room to seal the ends of the bags with 2-by-4-inch boards (screwed together) and also provide enough space for the unloading process when augers back into the bag to fill semi-trucks from the fields.

As a rule of thumb, each 300-foot long bag holds 12,500 to 13,000 bushels of grain. (This means each irrigation pivot would usually require 2.5 bags (300 feet long). Although bags can be purchased in various lengths or split for partial rows, the Englunds like to use the 300 foot bags because two people can handle them. The Englunds estimated the six-month storage cost to be about 12 cents per bushel for the one-time use polyethylene bag plus loading and unloading the bag.

Todd Whitney
Extension Educator, Holdrege

Disclaimer: Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by University of Nebraska–Lincoln is implied.