Creating a Safe and Efficient Grain Unloading System: Common Mistakes to Avoid – 2024 Guide

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Leading a life of farming and living off the land is a difficult but rewarding one. There is something special about caring for the soil around you enough and giving it all it needs only to reap the benefits of your dedication and hard work when the time comes. Reaping what you sow is a famous saying but in the farming business and producing grain, it is the ultimate truth and the words to live by.

Anyone who has been in the farming business knows that sowing and tending to the crops is only half the work. Actually getting to collect the finished product and use it is another great challenge and something that many farmers struggle with. When grain is concerned, handling it can be quite difficult and sometimes even extremely dangerous. The issue is that people forget or simply do not have enough experience to anticipate all the problems that may pop up from just one simple mistake.

If you are living a farm life and have a grain plantation to look after, you will surely benefit from some extra knowledge and advice. Therefore, if you believe there is always something to learn and especially if you have struggled with unloading grain and finding the most efficient system to do so, make sure to read this article in its entirety. Stay with us since we will do our best to guide you through the four most common and costly mistakes that are made while designing the right kind of grain unloading system.

1. Trying to Unload Out-of-Condition Grains

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While the mishandling of grain may come in a variety of shapes and forms, it is the unloading of grains that is not in proper condition that is arguably the worst. This is referred to as plugging and it happens when the grain is not in a good enough condition to be unloaded. Things take a turn for the worse more often than not, as dry grains can catch fire from the friction caused while unloading without enough care.

The fastest and safest way for unloading dried grains is to simply blast them off the truck or a railcar, depending what you use. In any case, you have to be prepared and ready to react just in case. In order to blast it, you need a hydraulic blast probe. If you have one already, great. If not, make sure to pay attention to the throughput of the hydraulic blast probe before you buy yourself a brand new one and consult the instructions on how to properly use it. Click here for more information on how to solve this issue on your farm.

2. Ignoring the Center Sump Rule for Bins

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While unloading, the center sump of the bin has to be used first to unload as much of the grain as possible, and then you can move on. Only after the center sump begins to overflow should you shift to the intermediate sumps for unloading the remaining grains that are still left. Failing to do so in this precise order will compromise the integrity of the bin since it will be putting unnecessary pressure on the sidewalls that are not made to nor should they hold so much. In fact, poor unloading practices exactly like this one are the prime cause behind collapsed grain bins since the walls are not able to withstand such pressure.

3. Entering the Storage Bin After a Plug

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At no point in time should anyone enter the bin after there has been a plug. Entrapment is far too common, much more than it should be in this day and age when we know better. People sadly still have the habit of attempting to check whether the plugged grains are falling by entering the bin. Sometimes, they even prod the clump from right under it to help it fall, thinking that they can get away in time safely only to find they cannot in the worst way possible.

Always check the bin from outside of it, and wait for a few days to see if the grains start falling on their own. If you have to, make sure to use the aeration fans to speed up the unplugging process. Experienced farmers advise simply opening and closing the sump constantly for a few minutes to help loosen the plug. If you must prod the clogged sump, do so from the safety tunnel of the tank. If it does not have a tunnel or a protective hatch of some sort, do not do it without protective gear else you may get seriously injured.

It does not take much for a serious or even fatal injury to happen on a farm due to the lack of care and safety measures. To prevent such events from happening to you and your loved ones, do everything you can and be smart about it. Better safe than sorry.

4. Handling Extreme Situations without Safety Gear

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In rare instances where none of the above techniques are working, and there is no hatch or tunnel in the bin, extreme measures must be taken. Someone needs to prod the clumped grains with a long or extendable stick while maintaining as much distance from the opening as possible. However, even though this can and usually is a one-man job, there should be multiple farmhands present to help, and the person prodding must wear a full-body harness, connected to a rigged and anchored lifeline.

Conclusion and Takeaways

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If you are facing issues such as plugging, clumping, and hang-ups while unloading from the truck already, then chances are that mistakes on your end have already been made numerous times. Perhaps what you are doing is exactly what you should be avoiding or at least changing to a safer and practical practice. Nevertheless, it should be easier to correct most of them now that you have more knowledge and when the information you desperately needed has come your way. Running a farm and caring for so many things at once is honest but painstaking work, so going out of your way and doing the little things to make the big things easier is always welcome.