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Money saving grain drying ideas
Even if you've never had much interest in the idea of using solar energy, you'll want to take a look at these simple money-saving ideas for grain drying.
Tom Culp, Lexington, Ohio, boosts in-take air temperatures up to 5? with his amazingly simply solar-assist design using black drainage pipe.
He fastened 11 runs of solid, 4-in. black plastic pipe to the south side of his 18-ft dia grain bin, which has a capacity of 3,200 bu. It took three 250-ft rolls of the pipe, which would cost about $300 at current prices. Both ends of the pipes are open, allowing heated air to be pulled into the bin through the ends fastened to the fan's shroud.
It's been 10 years since Culp first attached the pipe to the bin and the system is as effective as ever. While he hasn't calculated the energy savings, Culp is sure he's met his goal with the idea: "To save just a little bit of propane."
Lowell Schroeder had a similar idea but went about it a different way - using stacks of aluminum irrigation pipe painted black.
Schroeder says he shoots for an air-ternperature increase of 6 to 8 ? to speed the natural air drying in his 8,000 bu. bin. During the growing season, the irrigation pipe is used in the field to irrigate corn.
He first tried the idea in 1990, stacking lengths of pipe 4-high between metal fence posts. With one helper, it took just 2 hrs. to set up the pipes, stacking them slightly off vertical for better solar exposure. A 10-hp., 24-in. bin fan draws heated air through the pipes then pushes it into the grain.
Last fall, before stacking the pipes, he laid them flat on the ground and painted them black, then built a simple wooden manifold to channel heated air through the fan. He joined two 30-ft. sections at each "leg" of the manifold. He laid 52 pipes over a 60 by 21-ft. area.
"I have the pipes anyway. For $30 in enamel paint, I get a temperature rise that speeds up drying," he says.
Schroeder limits corn going into the bin to about 21 percent moisture. He adds layers of corn over a period of days to minimize drying time, using intake air that's generally under 100?. He figures electricity for the fan, a single stirring auger, and unloading costs less than $300 per year.
Story and photos reprinted from THE NEW FARM, 222 Main St., Emmaus, Penn. 18098.

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1992 - Volume #16, Issue #1