Richard in South Dakota

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sd1Richard dries about 800,000 bushels a year of corn and beans in his 3,500 bu. capacity grain dryer, a dryer that he is looking to add more tiers to to get even more capacity. He has had his Dryer Master DM510 since 2011. For the 2017 season, he upgraded by adding DM Mobile, Dryer Master’s remote access application.

How does the Dryer Master change the way you dry? Using the Dryer Master changes the way we harvest, such as which fields we are going to harvest next.  We are not as concerned about the moisture content in each field.

How often do you calibrate the outlet sensor, and what procedure do you use?  We probably calibrate the outlet sensor twice a day. We take 4-5 samples during the calibration time, mix them together, and bench sample them to get an average moisture.

Do you use DM Mobile? We started using DM Mobile this year on my cell phone. I watch the outlet moisture from my phone as well as the drying rate and the drying temp. I like being able to change it from Auto to Local or Manual from my combine or my house. It is nice to be able to check things from the house at night without going to the bin site a mile away.

Maintaining Dryer Efficiency: Part One

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Grain StorageIt may be a bit hard to believe, but we have actually seen cases where a dryer has lost up to 50 percent of its capacity! We don’t want to see this happen to anyone so in this post, and the next one, we will talk a little bit about maintaining dryer efficiency.

Let’s start with the basics. Maintaining maximum air flow is the key to efficient performance. Because drying grain involves hot air passing through the grain, anything that reduces this air flow impacts performance.

With screen dryers, a great deal of moisture is expelled from the top few feet of the dryer. Much of the easy-to-dry product such as fines, broken kernels, chaff (red dog or bees wings) loses the bulk of its moisture here. These particles then tend to get pushed through the screen to the outside where they build up as a wet mess and stick to and plug the screens—thereby reducing air flow.

Over time, this wet section will steadily move further and further down the dryer as the screens in the higher portion above it plug up. This process gradually reduces the effective capacity of the dryer, and when drying capacity is lost, drying efficiency is reduced.

One way to slow this process is to clean the product ahead of drying. This will reduce the broken, fines, and red dog (bees wings) which tend to plug the screens.

How Fertilizer Makes a Difference in Agriculture

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At Dryer Master, our products function to monitor grain in the agricultural industry. Most of the time, we see the crops after they’ve been harvested and are in drying containers, but we still are aware of the entire process it takes to get a grain from ground to dinner table. Regardless of whether a farmer is growing corn or coffee beans, each plant starts as a seed that needs to be nourished.

Farmers are aware of a delicate chemical balance needed in the soil to ensure the health of crops. Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are essential to plant health, and since they’re free-flowing in the air, there’s no need to worry. However, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are equally as important, but they usually need to be added to existing soil through fertilizer.

Without the balance, a plant does not get its essential amino acids, nutrients, and energy. Each mineral has an important role in crop growth:

  • Nitrogen aides in processing carbohydrates, which builds new tissue, and also spurs protein creation.
  • Phosphorus assists in producing oxygen and sugar.
  • Potassium helps with moisture absorption and food metabolizing.

This supply of concentrated chemicals provides plants with the necessities to quickly grow, which is essential for the agricultural industry, but all fertilizers aren’t created equally.

A quick check of the label typically shows three numbers on a package (such as 20-17-10) to display the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium mineral balance. The amount of these nutrients needed varies between crops, and it’s up to the farmer to test the pH balance and figure out what the plant needs. Too much fertilizer can be a bad thing—especially with Nitrogen. If there’s too much, the plant will be heavy and have difficulty growing upright, but if there’s too little, the plant will grow weak and be unable to fully absorb water.

Most manmade fertilizers comes as pellets, powders, or liquids, and as long as the soil is enriched and healthy, the end result will be up to par. At Dryer Master, we think it’s important to know every aspect of the industry, and if you want to learn more about us and our products, head over to our website.

Automation and the Future of Farming

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For more than 10,000 years, farmers have kept humanity fed and clothed. And while the basic concept of farming remains the same, the past two centuries as seen industrialization change the face of agricultural. From the tractor, to the combine harvester, to modern fertilizers and pesticides, agricultural has never been shy about innovation.  So it isn’t a shock that the worldwide automation revolution has found its way into the world of farming.

One of the main reasons for the surge in automation is the shift from small family farms to large industrial farms. Thousands of small farms have turned into tens of giant corporate farms. With fewer people cultivating more acres, farmers are demanding modern tools to increase output and efficiency.  This has lead to amazing advances that include using GPS to plant and harvest crops, and grain dryers controlled through your smart phone. It is important to make clear that this automation is not about taking jobs away from workers, but more freeing up those who farm from the ancient sun-up to sun-down lifestyle.

Grain drying is a perfect example of this seismic shift. Before automation, farmers would have to physically visit each grain dryer every couple of hours to measure moisture levels. With modern equipment, like our DM510, once-labor intensive tasks become as easy as looking at computer screen or smart phone. In addition, automation also improves accuracy, which decreases costly damaged crops. If you think about it, automation isn’t just changing output levels and product quality; it is changing the fundamental nature of farming.

So, what is next? It is hard to say, but clearly these first steps into the world of automation have kicked of an exciting new era in agriculture and farming.

Spring Still Waiting for Winter to Leave

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Dryer Master Winter to Spring Image

According to the calendar, spring is here again but in many parts of North America, winter refuses to let go. Across the U.S., from Kansas to Texas to New York, this past month has seen temperatures stay in the 20s and 30s making it the coldest March since the late 19th century. As if the record low temperatures were not bad enough for crops, last summer’s drought refuses to abate. More than 80% of Nebraska is experiencing exceptional drought conditions and NOAA is saying that it is unlikely to ease before the middle of this year. These conditions have led to a number of different problems. Because no one knows for sure if there is or will be enough moisture, farmers are buying buy less fertilizer and equipment. Farmers are also planting cheaper seed because there is no guarantee that their crops will even grow. As you might expect the entire industry is having a hard time in Nebraska and other drought stricken areas.

On the flipside, another Midwestern state, Minnesota, is benefiting from the late winter. Unlike Nebraska, Minnesota (as well as Iowa and Kansas) has received a decent amount of snow this winter and early spring. One would think snow would damage crops, but in actuality, a good snow cover often guarantees that crops will have enough moisture to really bloom. Of course, too much late season rain or snow will lead to flooding. In the end, even the areas that survived the drought have something to worry about as spring turns into summer.

All of this uncertainty has the entire agricultural industry on edge. Most experts believe that despite the chaos, 2013 should overall be a good year for grain in North America. Of course, when it comes to weather, there are no guarantees, so everyone in the industry will be watching the maps and forecasts closer than ever.