Prepare on-farm storage early to protect your harvest

Author: Toni Somes | Date: 06 Oct 2016

Philip Burrill says the key points of preparation for all grain storage are maintenance, hygiene and potential markets.

As Queensland and New South Wales growers prepare for harvest, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is reminding them to also plan ahead for on-farm grain storage.

With forecasts of a large chickpea harvest, coupled with depressed wheat and barley prices there is potential for heavy reliance on existing on-farm silo structures, as well as more temporary storage options such as grain sheds, pads or bags.

Development Agronomist with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Philip Burrill, who is involved in the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Grain Storage Extension Project, says the key points of preparation for all grain storage, whether it will be for weeks or months, are maintenance, hygiene and understanding potential markets.

“If you don’t take care with the hygiene of your equipment including harvesters, field bins, augers and silos you can almost guarantee you will have a pest infestation before you’ve even begun, so ideally equipment will be cleaned and treated with DE (e.g. DRYACIDE®) well before harvest begins,” Mr Burrill said.

“Hygiene and maintenance go hand in hand, and particular attention should be paid to your aeration equipment, checking for fan electrical faults, and of course all storage equipment including silos, augers, field bins and tarps.

“The other recommendation is to talk to your grain trader to find out whether your potential markets will accept cereal grain treated with a grain protectant spray. Pesticide residue free (PRF) export markets may be worth targeting. Knowing which markets accept grain treatments can also be helpful for cereal grain pest control when using storage where a good fumigation can be more difficult, like grain sheds or pads.”

Mr Burrill also encourages growers to order grain protectant chemicals promptly for cereal grains as demand may be heavy across the northern grain region in the coming months. Also inspect grain spray equipment and nozzles.  Check the calibration with water before harvest time to ensure application rates, typically one litre of mixture per tonne will be reliability achieved. 

“In an ideal world, we would all be working with easy to clean, aerated, sealable silos, but in reality lots of people will need to be looking at alternatives for storage this season,” he said.  
“For grain sheds, growers should ensure the floor is clean of any contaminants including fertiliser and oil. Also consider setting the shed up for fumigation, before filling it, by hanging gas-proof grain tarps around the walls. These are join with another tarp over the grain peak if a fumigation is required.

“If using a grain pad, particular attention must be given to drainage when both selecting and preparing the site. Consider using a ground sheet and look at the quality of your covering tarp. It is important to not only to keep out moisture, but the cover needs to be gas-tight when a fumigation is undertaken.

Mr Burrill said in the case of both grain sheds and pads, thought needs to be given to what equipment will be used to out-load efficiently. Also for grain pads, how will the cover tarp be man-handled safely if a storm moves in during harvest?  

“If you are looking to use grain bags or sausage bags, select a quality bag, as you don’t want them to split open at the wrong time,” he said.

“As a general rule, I consider grain bags as a higher risk form of storage and therefore wouldn’t recommend bags for storage longer than about three months. Pulse grains like chickpeas or slightly over moist cereal grain is much safer in aerated silos.


“If you do use grain bags, preferably select a single site for all your bags, ideally on a well- drained ridge, which you travel past on a regular basis so you can inspect them for damage at least twice a week.

“Consider the storage site in terms of domestic or native animals and birds, avoid proximity to trees, and if appropriate, fence off the area.”

Mr Burrill said with many growers considering holding larger grain volumes on-farm this year, it was critical they prepared ahead for grain storage to help avoid serious grain losses post-harvest.

To support growers, who store grain on-farm, the GRDC has established a Stored Grain Information Hub. The hub contains extensive information on aeration and pest prevention and control strategies. Place “checklist” into the search box to find a helpful checklist of best practices for farm storage facilities.

The GRDC’s Stored Grain National Information Hotline is also available to support growers with all their grain storage investments and practices. By phoning 1800 WEEVIL (1800 933 845) growers will be put in contact with their nearest grain storage specialist.

Contact Details 

For Interviews

Philip Burrill
0427 696 500


Toni Somes, Cox Inall Communications
0427 878 387

GRDC Project Code PRB00001

Region North