Mechanised Post-Harvest Grain Drying

By Vimbai Ruvengo

One of the crucial crop husbandry operations in grain production is grain drying. ZiMunda farming has covered a number of successful stories on artificial grain drying around Zimbabwe (see links below). Follow the story of Nathan Douglas, at Lion’s Den, a maize, soybean and wheat producer who had an on-farm grain dryer that processes 27tonnes/hour installed at his farm and how Gary Jenkins, Steve le Roux and the team at Corpcord took on a challenge of constructing a grain dryer with a capacity to dry 500 tonnes of grain per day in 5 months.

Gary Jenkins, Steve le Roux and the team at Corpcord assembling a grain dryer.

Grains are divided into three groups; cereals (maize, wheat, millet, rice, etc.), pulses (beans, peas, cowpeas, etc.), and oil seeds (soyabeans, sunflower, linseed, etc.). And according to scale of production one can employ natural drying methods before grain storage. These may be divided in three main methods: drying in the field before harvesting, drying in shallow layers and exposing to sun and wind on a surface that prevents moisture from the ground from reaching the produce and drying in, or on, a structure that has open sides to permit air movement through the mass. Natural dying can be affected by sporadic weather patterns and late harvested cereals show diminishing quantitative and qualitative returns through shatter losses and attacks by insects, mould, birds and rodents. Having access to a grain dryer improves the end product and gives you the farmer timely control of operations. When you properly dry the grain harvest through grain dyers you do away with storage problems that arise in poorly dried cereals. One of the most critical physiological factors in successful grain storage is the moisture content of the crop. High moisture content leads to storage problems because it encourages fungal and insect problems, respiration and germination. Artificial drying is using a mechanical system to dry your grains; it is controlled, efficient and fast. The range of systems available for drying grains varies and the choice of a drying system should be influenced by the rate of harvest (the capacity of the system must be able to keep pace with the rate at which the grain arrives at the store on a daily basis, it is essential that loading and drying does not hold up the harvest), total volume to be dried (this gives an idea of the size of the system) and cost (both capital cost and running cost should be taken into account).

A mobile grain dryer from the Fangveiw Company

To those incapacitated in installing a grain dryer, companies like Fangveiw are there to provide mobile drying service. Fangveiw aims to help farmers manage their harvest by bringing grain dyers to the field (see link below).

Remember, a good grain season ends with the best grain drying procedures put in place.

Nathan Douglas’s story;

Extreme engineering with Corpcord;

Fangview bringing grain drying to the field;

Images provided by Julie Havercroft and Agristructures

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