By Gio Braidotti
Graingrowers and handlers battling pesticide resistance in their storage
silos may have a new option - large hermetically sealed plastic bags,
called silo bags, that have become popular with overseas growers, particularly
in South America.
Silo bags, which can store up to 300 tonnes, have been around for more
than 10 years in Argentina, although their widespread adoption is a recent
development. The largest manufacturer of silo bags in Argentina, IPESA,
will manufacture more than 70,000 bags this year.
The bags are seamless, airtight when sealed and capable of stretching
to form a smooth surface that makes it difficult for pests to burrow into
the bag - or so the theory goes in countries that do not have kangaroos,
mice plagues and cockatoos.
Because of growing interest in Australia, and the different conditions
here, the GRDC is funding a two-year study by CSIRO"s Stored Grain
Research Laboratory (SGRL) to assess the suitability of silo bags on Australian
The bags, for example, have to be packed tight enough to force out air.
This requires specialised packing equipment. The grain itself then turns
residual oxygen into carbon dioxide, which asphyxiates insects and inhibits
Achieving a low-oxygen atmosphere is critical to successful insect and
mould control, so poor sealing or punctures will cause the system to fail.
Despite this, some Australian growers are already exploring the use of
silo bags, attracted by a number of perceived advantages, principally
their potential cost-effectiveness compared to storage in fixed silos.
They may also provide an effective way to control grain insects without
the use of chemicals.
The SGRL study is being led by Len Caddick, who is keen to hear from
growers who have used silo bags. Grower experience in Australia will be
used to design a field trial in collaboration with the distributor of
silo bags in Australia, Ian Metherall.
GRDC Research Code CSE00035
For more information: Len Caddick, 02 6246 4214, firstname.lastname@example.org;
CSIRO Survey, hosted by strategic economic solutions, www.economicsolutions.com.au
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