Thursday, November 5, 2009

Drying the Harvest

Above:  We will need to dry every kernel of corn and soybeans we harvest this fall. So, here is a tour of the grain drying system. Dumped from Old Red truck, the soybeans travel up the yellow auger into the orange holding bin. They then flow from the bin into an auger that keeps the silver dryer full as it slowly heats the soybeans to remove some moisture. The dried grain flows from the bottom of the dryer and is transferred  into the grain cart for its trip to the bin. Got that? Here it is a little slower.

Above:  Old Red raises his hoist to dump the soybeans which are then transported to the orange holding bin.

Above:  The flow from the truck is slow and steady as the drying process is slow. These soybeans are grown for seed and the temperature of the beans cannot exceed 100 degrees fahrenheit.
Above:  The wet beans appear larger which is water weight and are too soft when you bite into them, not crunchy and dry. 
Above:  They flow from the bottom of the holding bin and are taken by another auger to the top of our Neco dryer, which we purchased last year. There are two pressure switches at the top of the dryer that automate the decision for transfer of wet soybeans. The dryer is heated by burning propane. Hot air is funneled into a central heat chamber in the dryer. The triangular air vents release steam as the soybeans dry. This is a slow process because we must not overheat the soybeans or they lose the ability to germinate.

Above: As the soybeans leave the dryer from the bottom they are warm and dry enough to put in an air bin for longer storage. Notice the slow trickle from the auger.
Above:  Someone is tending the dryer at all times. The hut on the left of the picture offers protection from the wind and a place to sit down. Watching closely becomes more critical when we use hotter temperatures. Overheating can lead to scorching, or burning. Some crops (such as sunflowers - consider the shell on the seed) are more flammable than others. Fire is a very real concern. We will be using this dryer for weeks to dry the remaining soybeans and corn. 

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