In relation to dry grain storage, Richiger has developed a method that optimizes the filling and emptying of bags in the most simple and straightforward way yet devised: the Flexi-Grain Storage System.
More than 30 years ago, a new method for keeping forage inside large cylinder shaped plastic tubes was introduced in the USA. As an additional advantage, besides their main use for keeping chopped corn or alfalfa clippings, these airtight polyethylene tubes or bags were reported to be well suited for holding whole dry grain. In North America there was little interest in using bags to conserve grain because mostly there was sufficient storage availability and besides, a policy of support prices for agricultural staples did not promote production surpluses.
In other grain producing countries the situation was different. In Argentina, for example, storage space was scarce by 1990 as the grain harvest nationwide totaled some 40 million tons. When in the mid 90’s production began to grow by 10% annually, it soon became evident that the shortage of grain storage and handling facilities was a major stumbling block for further expansion and that innovative solutions were required.
Necessity was thus the critical factor that spurred research and pushed the system to the forefront of agricultural technology in the late part of the 90’s decade, developing slowly at first and then evolving at an accelerated pace as it continued to show its usefulness in real-world conditions. Storage in modern three-layer bags has proven successful with cereals, pulses, oilseeds and most all crops.
Evidence that the system has fully come of age is attested by the fact that almost half of the total amount of grain produced in the Argentina is now stored inside grain bags, or silo bags as they are also known, and growing.
In numbers, this means that in the 2011 campaign some 45 million tons of dry grains were kept in plastic and it is expected that at least 50 million tons will find their way into bags in 2012. To put this in perspective, the mentioned tonnage is twice the entire Australian grain production in an average year.
The scenario of old has changed considerably in America and the rest of the world as a global-oriented economy has gradually taken over. In this context the rise in the price of commodities such as corn and soybeans, in part because of new productions such as ethanol, are potential boons for the farming community.
Add to this the fact that growing worldwide demand for food and energy will most likely sustain and augment this trend. There are great opportunities, but the situation poses a challenge because adequate planning and logistics are essential to achieve optimum results.
On-site storage is important to a good sales strategy, and storing grain in polyethylene bags is the proven and cost-effective method available today to accomplish that.
Grain bagging is an adaptable technique and its appeal is widespread, so users range from small producers who own a couple of hundred acres of land to international grain traders Cargill, Bunge and Dreyfus.
As well as with dry grain, the system has proven its worth in safekeeping other agricultural products such as moist feed grain. High moisture grain is highly prized as a component in cattle rations because of its unique nutritional qualities. And the extensive and continued use of bags as a means of storing chopped forage since the earliest times has already been mentioned, attesting to the importance of the technique in this particular area.