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How to store your grain in a safe and healthy way?

“Grain might still be a breathing and living organism when you harvest it and fill into silos. Although having a robust and protected nature, the grain may face many risks. So it is vital to clean silos and monitor and ventilate the silo in appropriate ways in order to have a safe and healthy storage for the grain. It is also crucial to employ competent personnel as well as to closely monitor and prepare relevant reports especially in the first three months following harvesting.”

Ferhan Can
General Manager
FMS Global Engineering Co. Ltd
Grain Storage Systems
Grains and especially wheat have an indisputable importance for humanity since the very first eras. Grains also play a crucial role in food security. Therefore, it is clear that if you secure your grain, you also secure the future of the humanity. As a result, storing grains in a safe and healthy way is a critical task for the humankind.

Indeed, the life is based on seeds. The wheat, which seems as the main grain in many part of the world, is no exception. When you look at the structure of the wheat, you see the universe there. It also has remarkable similarities with protista like paramecium. Although having a robust and protected nature, the grain may face many risks.

Grain might still be a breathing and living organism when you harvest it and fill into silos. Each kernel has at least 10% water and it is called humidity percentage of the grain.

When food and water come together, new living areas easily occur for pests like insects, molds and fungis. When they reproduce, temperature of grain bulk rises.

As dust and other foreign materials increase within grains in the silo, colonies between non-ventilated kernels find more suitable living conditions which in turn increase spoilage and burning rates. We can explain this phenomenon via this example: You can spot bacteria and moss on standing water like swamps. But this phenomenon does not occur on flowing water easily. That’s to say, we have to clean the grain by combing out foreign materials and dust from the grain before pouring it inside silos. We have to ensure proper ventilating and monitor the temperature of the grain. Of course, there are more measures to take in order to store the grain in a safe way.

In order to protect the grain, it should be free from foreign materials but the silo itself should also be clean. Sanitation in the silo is a crucial factor. Whenever a product is emptied, the silo should be cleaned in detail and attention should be payed to leave nothing from the previous product before accepting new product.

Proper ventilating is another solution to mitigate risks. Temperature tracking systems enable to monitor temperature increases and fans pump air into the silo to decrease the heat and prevent burning. Ventilating with fans is a traditional way of ventilating and it also gives harm to the grain. It decreases the humidity to prevent occurring of suitable conditions for pests but it also dries the grain and causes kernels to have lesser weights.

On the other hand, pumping air from the immediate environment can only be a solution for dry and cold climates. But in Mediterranean or Black Sea regions the weather is either too hot or relative humidity rates are significantly higher. As a result, this method would not be the best solution. Regardless of climate conditions, grain storage risks are there for all facilities. Scant storage conditions may cause spoilage of grains in a Mediterranean city like Mersin, as well as Bursa or Tekirdag in Marmara region or Konya, the bread basket of Turkey.

When storage process for the grain starts, the focus should be on the silos and they should be monitored by well-trained personnel since finance source of millions of Turkish liras of a company are in these silos.

Fumigation is another important measure to take. Killing insects with liquid or tablet-type chemicals is a necessity to prevent spoilage or infestation. Those chemicals are very dangerous for human health so nobody should come close to silos immediately after fumigation process. But they quickly go into the air and no deposit remains in the silo.

Another solution to prevent higher temperatures is transferring grains to an empty silo. Grain passes through conveyors and elevators, became ventilated and its temperature will decrease a few Celsius degrees. But this method consumes energy and causes wastage because of broken or harmed kernels.

First three months after the harvest is a critical period of time for grains. Because the grain is fresh, fragile and vulnerable to risks in this period. Weekly temperature checks and comparing results are crucial in order to take above-mentioned necessary measures for the areas that have an increased temperature level of 2 centigrade degrees.

To sum up, we can list the measures for safe storage of grains as follows:
1. Cleaning the grain before storage / Pre-cleaning and dust reduction systems
2. Monitoring silos and stores properly / Temperature and level tracking systems
3. Using the right ventilation system / Grain cooling and conditioning equipment
4. Competent personnel for grain storage / well-trained personnel at relevant institutions
5. Close monitoring and reporting during the first three months / closely monitoring the reactions every 5 yo 7 days

We use refrigerators in our homes (+5 or 6 centigrade degrees) to ensure food, fresh vegetables and fruits to be consumable for a longer time. But the proper temperature for grains and pulses is 13 centigrade degree. This conditions protects the grain from pests, insects, molds, fungis and germination for a long time and grain remains as fresh as ever. Grain conditioning equipment is also a kind of refrigerator that protects grains from risks by keeping in-silo temperature +13 centigrade degrees regardless of the temperature of outer environment. You can also control the rate of humidity thanks to these equipment. You can cool the grain with cold-dry, cold and semi-humid, cold-humid air and increase or decrease humidity rates by 1-2 percentage points.

As a result, safe storage for grains is possible with a good pre-cleaning, temperature tracking and with the right cooling-conditioning equipment.

We also suggest you to read our previous article titled "The innovations we need are old news".

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