Gas-tight a must for grain storage

Gas-tight storage is the key to successful on-farm grain storage, according to the GRDC’s southern Australia stored grains specialist and PCB Consulting director Peter Botta. Mr Botta says growers are choosing to store grain longer than in the past and the only way to safely store grain for an extended time is to use a gas-tight silo that allows effective fumigation.

“One big change in the past 18 months is that there are no longer any options for killing stored grain pests other than fumigation,” Mr Botta says.

“Even when growers do everything right, it is likely a fumigation will be required if they are storing grain for a number of months. Each year around June or July, I start getting calls from growers who are seeing insects, and unless they have gas-tight storage there is no real solution.”

While fumigation in a non-gas-tight silo may kill the adult pests, immature insects will survive and go on to develop resistance – and each successive generation will have increased resistance to fumigation chemicals.

Mr Botta says it is important for growers to think about why they are storing grain, and how long they might want to store it for, to ensure they have the right storage strategy.

“A grower might want to just store grain to help manage harvest logistics for up to two months,” he says. “In that case, silo bags, ground-dumping or bunkers are useful options.

“If the grower is storing grain for seed or for marketing, then quality is critical and an integrated pest management strategy should be used, just like during the growing season.

“Growers put so much effort into growing the best grain, so at this final stage it would be crazy to let the quality slip and receive a lower price.”

To maximise product quality in grain storage, growers should apply good storage hygiene to minimise food sources and monitor the grain regularly, at least once a month. Aeration can also be a useful tool to slow insect reproduction and manage higher moisture grain.

With phosphine resistance on the rise and an increase in the amount of on-farm storage, Mr Botta expects alternative fumigation solutions such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide gas will soon be required. He suggests growers consider this when planning on-farm storage. “These products are more expensive than phosphine but will become more attractive as phosphine resistance becomes widespread,” he says.

And they reinforce the importance of silos being properly sealed: “When using nitrogen or carbon dioxide, a gas-tight silo is absolutely essential. These chemicals will not even kill the adults in an unsealed silo.

“If growers are making an investment in on-farm storage, going with gas-tight is the only sensible solution.”

The GRDC has developed an information hub to help growers access information and tips on storing grain.

More information:

Peter Botta, PCB Consulting,
0417 501 890,
pbotta@bigpond.com

Stored Grain Information Hub;

Avoiding phosphine resistance in stored grain products – GRDC Hot Topic

See also: 'Bumper harvest to put pressure on storage best practice' in this issue.

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