The conditions of temperature and relative humidity of the air determine the rate of drying and the final condition of humidity to which the grains will equilibrate in the field prior to harvest. Previously, these equilibrium relationships had to be obtained from graphs, tables, manuals, or extension publications, and more recently, they could be found on the Internet only if you knew the right terms to search for them.
In this sense, INTA Balcarce -Buenos Aires- and the University of Iowa -United States- developed an application for mobile devices, called “Aeration and Grain Storage”, which improves the efficiency and effectiveness of grain aeration, allowing reduce the consumption of electrical energy by adapting its management to the climatic conditions.
In principle, “it should be noted that the application is free, it is available on Google Playstore and can be configured in four different languages (Spanish, English, French and Portuguese), that is, it can be used in a large part of the world”, Ricardo Bartosik, INTA Balcarce Grain Postharvest Specialist, pointed out.
“The user has the option of using the phone’s GPS to automatically access the weather information of the town closest to the indicated location,” said the specialist, adding: “The App allows you to select between five different weather databases to give the user greater flexibility in case he prefers a particular database, and to have alternatives in case a certain climatic base does not have information available for a certain region or locality”.
Another relevant aspect is that the user can select 26 different products, which include cereals (wheat, corn, rice, barley, oats and sorghum), oilseeds (soybeans, sunflower, rapeseed, peanuts and safflower), legumes (beans and chickpeas) and even some by-products. “For each of these products, the equilibrium model used, the parameters of the model and the scientific reference from which it was obtained can be viewed,” Bartosik pointed out.
For his part, Diego de la Torre, INTA Balcarce Grain Postharvest specialist, assured that at the moment “the application has three tools: cooling aeration prediction, climate forecast for aeration and air-grain humidity ratios.”
“The first allows the user to estimate the temperature and humidity condition at which the grain will end up equilibrating when exposed to a certain air condition, taking into account the evaporative cooling of the grain,” said de la Torre, who also specified that for this, the user must enter the climatic data of the locality where it is located, the type of grain and its condition, the objective humidity to which it is desired to take it and the estimated air flow of the silo.
Once all these parameters have been entered, in the “Results” section, the user will be able to find an estimate of the hours of fan operation necessary to achieve cooling of the entire mass of grains, as well as the temperature and humidity at which it would tend to balance the grain
The aeration climate forecast tool “estimates the number of hours available for aeration in the next 3 to 10 days, allows identification of the days and times where it would be convenient to turn on aeration, while offering a recommendation on the limit temperature to which the thermostat of the aeration controller should be programmed to get the most benefit from the climatic condition”, stressed Bartosik.
Finally, the Grain-Air Moisture Ratios tool calculates equilibrium moisture content, equilibrium relative humidity, and safe storage moisture for different grain types and air conditions; and indicates whether certain air conditions are adequate to achieve the proposed objective of reducing, maintaining, or increasing the moisture content of stored grain.
For both specialists, “the key to preserving the quality of the merchandise during storage is to understand the local climatic conditions and their relationship with the temperature and moisture content of corn, soybeans or other grains, while they determine the cooling potential ambient air and whether it will tend to increase or decrease the moisture content of the grain.
“The Grain Storage and Aeration application combines these engineering equations with the local weather forecast and makes this intelligence available to the producer for any type of grain and global location,” de la Torre highlighted.