Saving the Harvest

Agridry

Agridry’s mission statement is simple: to provide the best fabrication manufacturing solutions for grain drying and aeration. The company has been a leading manufacturer and supplier of grain dryers and grain aeration systems for the agricultural industry since 1976.

The Toowoomba based business is well known around the globe for its quality and innovation and sells throughout Australia as well as New Zealand, the United States, Canada, India, the UK, France and Germany.

Agridry also supplies several key products in addition to grain dryers and grain aeration equipment. The company’s precleaners, for example, remove unwanted chaff and debris from agricultural product prior to drying. Agridry’s customised switch boards are specially designed to meet the customer’s drying or aeration needs. The company also offers food processing dryers for use in commercial bakeries or bread product processors.

Grain Drying

Grain drying provides greater control over the harvest, which can be crucial in an industry ruled by unpredictability. Drying allows for earlier harvesting, lessening the chances that weather or pests will negatively affect crops. An early harvest may also bring in higher prices because the majority of that season’s crop will not have hit the market yet. Furthermore, the quality of grain is at its highest as soon as it reaches physical maturity, when the moisture level is too great for bulk storage; with a dryer, however, grain can be collected as soon as it is dry enough to reap, while it is still at maximum quality, and the remaining moisture is simply removed after harvesting.

A dryer also ups productivity by increasing the number of hours in a day one can harvest, reducing the number of days needed to complete the harvest. Traders benefit from dryers as well, because they can buy grain regardless of its moisture content, allowing them greater leeway to snag the best deal.

The advantages of using dryers have been recognised for years, however it has only been in the last quarter of a century that technology has advanced enough to produce a reliable, efficient dryer. Early dryers took too much time, money and manpower to operate. Furthermore, Australia’s earliest dryers were developed in Europe and designed to function in European weather and farming conditions. Not surprisingly, the technology did not hold up Down Under. In fact, weather and climate drastically affect a dryer’s operation and a dryer designed for the wrong conditions is virtually doomed to fail.

These early dryers were really no more than a heater and a fan that blew warm air over the product. They were designed to be used when grain was bagged in the paddock and then transported and sold in those bags. When bulk handling came into use, operators attempted to use these primitive dryers to dry greater quantities of grains. It was largely a failure; the expense and time required was simply too high, and it was impossible to know how long it would take the grain to dry. In fact, many dryers could not even function in bad weather. Farmers soon dismissed the technology as more trouble than it was worth.

Over the last 25 years, however, bulk dryer technology has improved dramatically, and their use has increased accordingly. Today, this once cumbersome equipment has become an efficient and advantageous tool for farmers, contract harvester operators, and central bulk receiving facilities.

Modern dryers are comprised of a carefully designed set of components that include heaters, a fan, a control system, and a bin to hold the grain during the drying process. These dryers can be used during the harvesting process, or as part of a storage and handling system carried out apart from the field harvest.

Grain Aeration

Aeration is the process of forcing air through grain while it is in storage. Aeration cools freshly harvested grain or grain that is warm from a grain dryer, and can keep grain at a lower temperature than the average ambient conditions long term. Grain is an extremely effective insulator, which means that it resists changes in temperature. In other words, it is difficult to either heat or cool grain effectively. Therefore, when grain is stored in bulk, different areas of grain will often remain at different temperatures. Without aeration, these temperature differences can increase over time, with some areas of grain becoming hot enough to suffer damage – or even ignite. Fortunately, grain’s insulating properties also mean that, when properly aerated and cooled to an ideal temperature, the grain will easily remain cool.

Most importantly, aeration fights grain’s two greatest enemies, insects and mould, both of which thrive in warm, damp conditions. Grain storage insects prefer tropical conditions as a general rule, and do best when the temperature is between 30 to 32 degrees Celsius and the humidity is at 65 per cent or greater. In Australia this means that bulk grain storage conditions are often absolutely ideal for insects. By maintaining dry, cool conditions, aeration helps keep grain at peak quality by cutting down on both insect activity and mould growth.

Aeration can be so effective against insects, in fact, that it may even eliminate the need for insecticides. Cooler temperatures will slow down insect development substantially, and temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius will stop most insect reproduction all together. When insecticides are needed, aeration will greatly reduce the amount required because the process helps the chemicals last longer. Lower levels of insecticides create cost savings and lessen insect exposure to the chemical, which in turn lowers the likelihood of resistance development. Lessening this exposure is critical, as more and more pests are developing alarming levels of resistance to standard chemicals.

Aeration may be carried out using air at its natural temperature. However, when using air that is not artificially cooled, it is absolutely essential that the system is properly managed. In fact, running an aeration fan in the wrong conditions can actually undo all of the positive effects already achieved. For this reason, Agridry supplies automatic aeration controllers that will turn aeration fans on only when the conditions are cool and dry. As a result, operators can rest easy that no one will turn on the fan during overly warm or humid conditions, which would force heat and moisture right back into the grain.

Dryers and aeration equipment can require a substantial investment, so Agridry offers customers the option to rent before buying. The company’s GoGetta goRent.goGrow.goOwn™ program is a unique rental solution that allows hesitant consumers to try out equipment before committing to a major purchase. If a customer chooses to buy after renting, Agridry reduces the purchase price by 75 per cent of the net rent already paid. After the 12 month rental period is completed, customers may also renew their rental agreement or simply return the equipment to Agridry.

Agridry also has a dedicated service department. After decades of experience in the design and manufacture of drying and aeration equipment, the team is well prepared to handle the toughest maintenance issues. The company services all types and makes of oil burners and services all of its own equipment in addition to providing upgrades and repairs on many other makes of dryers, including Vertec, GT and Morridge machines. For the most efficient service, Agridry keeps virtually every spare part needed for any dryer in-house.

Dryers and aeration systems have come a long way over the last 25 years – and Agridry has been there every step of the way. The company has been instrumental in developing the best, highest quality drying and aeration equipment specially designed for the Australian climate. It’s no wonder that Agridry’s leading edge systems have become indispensable to the nation’s most successful farmers.

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December 16, 2018, 3:51 PM AEDT