- Agronomic: barley, corn, oats, rye, soybeans, spelt, wheat
- Crop Production: postharvest treatment
- Education and Training: demonstration, technical assistance, workshop
- Farm Business Management: risk management
- Pest Management: integrated pest management
As farms transition in a difficult agricultural economy, there are opportunities to capture in the local grain economy (LGE). Demand is increasing for food and feed grains in the commodity and artisan markets. However, a lack of grain storage management is an obstacle to this transition. Very few farmers have had storage management training. Long-time farmers do not know their storage costs and occasionally have spoiled grain or get loads rejected or docked at the mills. Also, there are new farmers entering the LGE that need assistance planning a grain storage facility and learning how to manage it. None of the farmers have had safety training. At this time, grain storage management education is needed to help farmers sustain their transitioning farms and to help new farmers entering the LGE.
The proposed two-year grain storage management education program will address the needs of conventional and organic farmers that grow a few acres or hundreds of acres of grain. This project will hold a series of two tours at grain mills, five on-farm trainings, one all-day winter workshop, and provide intensive one-on-one training to a subset of interested farmers. Farmers will receive help and education in designing grain storage systems; evaluating the latest technologies; evaluating their existing grain storage systems; adopting proper grain storage management (SLAM – sanitation, loading, aeration, monitoring); determining grain storage costs; and adopting safety protocols. Individually-trained farmers will provide monitoring reports that will verify adoption of management principles, and group-trained farmers will be contacted at appropriate times to provide support and to evaluate their adoption of the management principles taught.
The performance target is that at least 25 farmers will complete one-on-one training to develop grain storage management protocols for their own storage system and to monitor grain at least monthly and more often at critical periods. They will gain a knowledge of their storage costs so they know how long they can profitably store a crop. Monitoring reports will verify their adoption of what was taught. Another 25 group-trained farmers will complete learning milestones set for each tour and workshop. Farmers will complete questions before each training to document their current knowledge and management practices. Follow up evaluations will be given after critical management times to measure adoption rates.
Performance targets from proposal:
Fifty farmers producing 21,325 acres of grain in the Hudson Valley of NY will each adopt at least one improved grain storage management practice. This will reduce their previously reported annual losses of $169,000 by at least $126,750. These growers will report additional sales to new markets totaling $250,000.