Current mobile grain bin plans are pallet mounted wooden grain bins posted on farm hack.com, and a trailer mounted metal bin designed by Jack Lazor of Butterworks farm in Vermont and plans can be found in his book “The Northern Grain Grower”.
Our proposal utilizes the versatility of pallet mounted storage units while adding aeration for drying and mostly pre-made components for ease of assembly and outside all weather storage.
- The proposed solution is to to manufacture a reusable pallet mounted grain bin constructed from plastic culvert and pre made components for ease of assembly. Versatile Permanent storage provide opportunities to store small hi-value commodities with built-in dry down capabilities to protect and preserve quality in crops harvested at higher moisture making early harvest for quality reasons more profitable. The farmers involved in this project including project leader Sean O’Donnell of Rusted Rooster Farm in Parkman, Maine. Collaborating farmers include Sam Mudge of Grange Corner Farm in Lincolnville Maine, Dorn Cox of Tuckaway farm in Lee, New Hampshire and John Hutton of Coppal House Farm in Lee, New Hampshire. We plan to meet at MOFGA in Unity, Maine to network with other interested farmers and discuss the building plan, construction and operation of the pallet mounted plastic grain bin. After all plans are final I (Sean O’Donnell) will proceed with purchasing materials for bin construction including end caps, pallets, grain doors, perforated flooring and a 20 ’ plastic culvert to be sectioned into pieces, one for each participating farm. After all components have been purchased all farms will gather at Rusted Rooster Farm in Parkman Maine for construction of the bins.
After bins are constructed each farm will be provided with a grain sampling probe to properly sample grain for moisture content and grain quality. Participating farms already have moisture testers available for use in monitoring. Effectiveness will be measured in terms of cost of and ease of construction, grain loss due to spoilage, rodents, ease of grain drying, stacking and handling. Early April 2016. Project will start at farmer meeting it Unity.
April-May 2016 Project leader will purchase all materials and supplies for construction and monitoring.
June (after planting) 2016 meeting at Rusted Rooster Farm in Parkman for assembly.
July 2016 Bin will be presented at the annual grain walk at Rusted Rooster Farm hosted by Sean O’Donnell.
July 2016 November bins will be used at participating farms for various harvested crops, results will be individually monitored storage quality and ease of use for results at final report. Presentation and explanation for other interested farmers at Rusted Rooster Farm in Parkman at twilight meeting
At final report bin plans and gathered data will be posted on Farm Hack.com by Dorn Cox.
2018 objective update I no longer expect to get the whole group of farmers together has some have not been in contact with me as well as one started a full-time job doesn’t have time. We do however have a new objective due to the difficulties of drying in Tote bags with the bins being airtight we should be able to recirculate the air with a dehumidifier to constantly dry during cloudy weather or even winter months. The ability tovery easily add supplemental heat in the form of a space heater which will improve fall and winter drying vastly.
The problem we found arises from the lack of long-term storage options for the small scale diversified grain farms.
Current storage options include large silo type steel bins which cannot be cost justified for farms growing ten or
less acres of each crop,larger metal bins are not designed for smaller volumes of diverse varieties and crop types
that are typical of direct market grain bean and oil seed markets.
On my farm in 2015 I cropped 60 acres with 18 separate crops. Current storage consists of plastic tote bags
though inexpensive are less than ideal for long term storage as they are easily chewed through by rodents, are
not weatherproof proof and have to be stored inside. Tote bags have a usable lifespan of one year which creates
plastic waste and is an added annual expense, these problems provide a significant risk to grain and seed quality
impacting farm profitability.
Wooden bins on pallets using plywood require a substantial amount of time and skill in building a rodent proof
enclosure and and are not suitable for outside storage.
Metal are bins are less than ideal because of expense of materials, weight and condensation issues and have to
be stored inside.
The purpose of this project is to provide a solution for small farms looking to dry their valuable niche grain crops viably in the Northeast without having to purchase large very expensive bins. As well as providing a superior alternative to tote bags that has been the norm for small grain farms in the Northeast. Let’s little deeper look into some of the drying dilemmas that we have in the Northeast that has been forgotten by the grain industry. The experience of drying down grain in higher humidity environments that Southern and Midwestern states don’t have experience drying in. I first encountered this problem when I started drying grain I was not able to get enough air flow to the tote to properly dry, I thought there must be a better way and I believe there is over the years I’ve also become more experienced drying in a tote bag adding larger more powerful fans getting decent results as well as learning the unavoidable pit fall of drying in a tote bag including uneven grain drying IE the corners in the bottom don’t dry well the ability to only dry when humidity is low which doesn’t happen very often in the Northeast as well as vulnerability to pests and the inability to store outside.
I believe this project will give insight into a field where there is no information available as I have successfully dried grain down from 22% moisture to bread quality wheat Which is far above the recommended Harvest moisture.
Slanted roof grain bin
May 2016. Purchase Culvert caps from a company called caplugs, after finding out Culvert caps that size are not readily available. Caps arrived were kind of cheesy, we decided to use them for the the bottom but not the top and would suggest just using a piece of plywood for the bottom of the future.
October 2016 over the summer purchase the culvert, plastic pallets, and grain Gates. Also remembered how busy summer season gets and didn’t have a chance to work on it other than accumulating the supplies.
May 2017. Purchase perforated flooring from a company called McNichols who proved to be the cheapest source, it was very good quality, we ordered galvanized so that wouldn’t be a problem with rust in the future.
Fall 2017. After things not working out over the summer because of busy season for farmers, I decided to set a date of December 2nd and 3rd for bin Construction and who ever showed up could help.
December 2nd and 3rd I worked on the bins the 2nd and Dorn Cox showed up to help on the 3rd at the end of which Dorn was able to take home a mostly finished bin that he is going to finish at his house.
After some of the problems we ran into decided to finish Construction of the remaining three bins by myself so I can refine the process one bin at a time. 2018 update, August- November. Constructed another Bin struggled to make it and efficient Construction due to the angles on the roof and the flooring complicating assembly. video taped multiple construction steps just to find a easier way to do it. I decided I will be constructing the other two bins with flat tops and flat floors to hopefully be able to present specific specs and measurements as to how to build the Bin. I was not able to accomplish that with the slanted floor version it seems like you had to be advanced mathematician to get the slanted oval standardized and I ended up just custom cutting each piece one of the time. Dorn Cox of New Hampshire was also able to finish the bin that we sent with him last fall and is preparing to test it out this winter also. January February 2019. I have finished Construction on my new grain buildng it will allow me to construct the remaining Bins inside out of the weather right in my farmyard. I will be constructing the last two Bins, as well as documenting the difference in construction time in difficulty between the flat bottom and the slanted bottom as well as posting pictures and how to step-by-step Construction directions via a video posting on my YouTube channel. January March 2019. I will start drying down grain that I was unable to dry with the tote bag method this fall as well as document the differences in dry down time. I have been in contact with Dorn Cox who is also going to be collecting deta. I am also experimenting with some drying options including dehumidification and adding supplemental heat. March 2019. will be presenting experience at the maine grain conference. We will be posting results on Farm hack website and the neeograin list serve.
At the time of construction we decided on a slanted roof to shed rain snow it can also overhang to protect the grain gate from the elements. Because of that we had to cut the Culvert at an angle, we decided to use the same angle for the roof and the floor. By sectioning a culvert in four pieces we were able to cut it in half first, then cut the remaining two pieces at an angle to produce two pieces each with an angle on one side.
Cutting the Culvert on an angle presented to be more trouble than we thought I first used a piece of flashing to measure a 1 foot drop from 5’6″ to 6’6″ on the opposing side over the culvert. I bent the flashing around the culvert to use as a straight edge the problem with this method was it ended up with the Peak at the top High Valley at the bottom, after that we moved on to making a square out of wood they could be placed over the culvert and a straightedge traced up to the edge and We re cut it, after finding it was still not even enough for the roof to seal against it. From there we decided to cut a plug out of foam board to match the angle of the floor and the ceiling then put that inside of the culvert and spray-painted one side.
This proved to be the best method because then we were able to cut the cover from the inside and eliminate the Sawzall blade from waving up and down as it went through the different layers of the culvert at least we had a clean cut on the inside ceiling surface.
After which we were able to use the same plug to lay out on the perforated flooring and cut the oval to match the angle. Next we use two by fours has legs just support the floor cross members we laid the Culver on its side and pushed it up against a straight wall, which made it easy to climb inside and secure the stringers to match the first one then used a straight edge to make sure they were all even after which the floor was set on top and screwed down then the lower cap could be put on I use spray foam around the edge to seal it.
That’s is how far we got with the first couple of days what we plan to do next just got the door insecure the grain gate add a hinged roof that can be flipped back for drying and loading / unloading.
In 2018, after struggling with the slanted floor bins, we are planning on trying to flat roofed bins thinking it should make the construction process much faster. Bins will still be weather tight accomplished by using a solid piece 4 foot plywood for the flat roof as well as a small Hood over the grain gate we have modified the bottom sealing method from spray foam 2 polyurethane seal which will also be used for sealing for ease of deconstruction to clean underneath perforated floor. Flat roofs will also enable us to try stacking the bins to see if they hold up to the weight. We will be able to overcome the lack of slanted floor by securing it to the Forklift carriage via strap or chain to tip it for emptying the final contents. We will be testing the two bins against each other to see if there is any irregularities and drying the slanted floor one with uneven grain depth. January February 2019 will be adding a detailed cost breakdown price to construct each bin including ceiling Roofing and Hardware.
In retrospect it was probably a little optimistic to think that I would be able to arrange for all the farmers to get together in the same place all at once we all tend to have pretty busy schedules. Because of that I think it’s in the best interest of the project for the farmers that want to construct their bins do that. The only one that opted to do that was Dorn Cox. I will finish the other bins for the farmers to then come pick up and test over the summer, while allowing me to figure out the fastest way to construct them.
I also received a $1000 grant from the Maine grain alliance to construct a bin out of a infiltrator im-540 water tank which will be more expensive materials but easy to construct. I will post a comparison in the final report.
In 2018, it was slow to make progress due to the construction time as well as time working on our farm during this project; the objectives have broadened it should be a good example of multiple ways to accomplish the same storage method in a much-needed area as my personal frustration with tote bag drying continues.
Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary
At Rusted Rooster Farm during the 2017 grain walk I showed the attendees the Culvert and the other Construction Supplies and outline to them the construction process.
I also plan on posting all the videos of how to Construction on my YouTube channel which is rustedroosterfarm.
The Maine grain conference in March 2018 was canceled due to weather, I did have attendees at my farm tour but no farmers that were at the point of needing this type of grain storage, most others were to attend due to busy Farm schedules. At this time I feel the best Outreach will be done over the internet and will be posting multiple step Construction and testing videos on YouTube and posting that link on the neeograin listserv as well as my website, and farm hack.com March 2019. Will present results at 2019 Maine grain conference.
The main lessons gleaned was that it’s very hard to get four Farmers with busy schedules in one place at one time. Also another major challenge was figuring out how to get the culvert cut at a smooth angle.
In 2018, it turned out to be decent size project at least too build the slanted floor bins you have to be willing to work with lots of angles and have patience and things don’t lineup. In hindsight I think a plywood bin will be able to be built about as easily but probably not the have the upside of lasting forever like the plastic one as well as easy cleaning ability.
We have not got to use the bins yet we should have a lot more information on this section after a summer’s worth of use and will report back then
In 2018, with the wet rainy season around Harvest that we had this year, we had some serious thinking to do about the different ways we could use the bin help dry crops the possibilities that are opened up with the ability to be airtight with a closed-loop circulation system. More adjustments will be made.
I think the largest obstacle was trying to get so many farmers to work together in hindsight it might have just been easier to just build good prototype bins for an example and not worry so much about trying to get everybody schedule to match.
I expect to have a lot to add in this category after using the bins for summer
We have not gotten to use the bins yet we should have a lot more information on this section after a summer’s worth of use and will report back then 2018 update. Possibilities for different drying and storage include, being able to pipe a dehumidifier into the loop and dehumidifier the same air over and over again as it passes through the grain allowing for drying in any condition. Also the closed loop what allow for a quantity of dry ice to be placed in the loop it would kill any pests inside of the grain by carbon monoxide poisoning and then could just be vented with the top open when the procedure was complete. Most Diversified Farms in the Northeast this size tend to be less concerned with a little extra cost and drying if we can keep the quality good with the unfavorable weather we sometimes have.