Grain Bags Need More Study

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Grain bags may seem like an easy solution to the problem of where to store that bin-buster of a crop, but a University of Manitoba grain storage researcher had some cautionary words about a product that has seen precious little study when he spoke to farmers attending Manitoba Ag Days.

Digvir Jayas, a professor of biosystems engineering, said the three-layered polyethene bags were initially developed in Argentina to address the lack of grain storage on farms and the long distances to delivery points.

“They were meant to store dry grain for a short duration,” Jayas said. “They were never intended to replace long-term storage structures.”

The bags can be breached by weather, birds, or sharp objects on the ground so care must be taken when selecting a site. Once moisture gets in, the grain can spoil rapidly.

Their use has since spread to Australia, Canada, and the U.S. even though there has been limited evaluation of their performance under different conditions.

The most comprehensive study to date was conducted in Argentina, where researchers assessed its performance for wheat bagged for 150 days at 12.5 per cent and 16.4 per cent moisture

The study showed that the dry grain was cooler by 5.8C after 150 days. There was also a significant drop in the germination rate of the damp grain. But there was no sign of self-heating in the grain that was stored at higher moisture.

Until more research is available, Jayas recommends making sure the grain was one to two points below dry before placing it into the bag. “You should be able to store grain safety for up to six months.”

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