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Rimanui Farms use Kotzur grain storage and drying facility for financial and efficiency returns

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Rimanui Farms' investment in a 7500 tonne grain storage and drying facility from Kotzur is making returns in more ways than one.

The New Zealand owned 17000 hectare farm grows 8000ha of winter crops and up to 1500ha of summer crops each year, and while the overriding benefit of the Kotzur grain storage facility is financial gain, efficiency gains follow closely behind.

The Kotzure grain storage facility allows Ramanui Farms to be able to harvest cereals earlier at higher moisture levels, thus avoiding potential weather damage and quality downgrading, as was the case during the harvest of the 2010 winter crops.

With plans to increase the grain storage facility's capacity to 16500 tone of storage, Ramanui Farms' Kotzur grain storage facility was originally built in 2005 to handle 250 tonne of grain/hour with aeration to all silos and a grain conveyor system, allowing one unloading and loading point and the movement of grain between silos. Currently the facility can store about half of Rimanui Farms’ annual production, with an additional 1000 tonne of seed grain storage.

In 2010, wheat harvest at Rimanui Farms started in mid October at 15% - 16% moisture. The moist grain was unloaded directly into the drying silos, which have a total capacity of 4000t, and drying started straight away. In dry weather conditions it usually takes about a week of aeration to bring moisture levels down to 12%, but 2010’s moisture and humidity meant it took three to four weeks. Using a diesel run generator, in 2009 the cost of drying the grain was about $1.50/t, but in 2010 it was almost $10/t.

That early harvested grain reached APH2 receival standard and attracted a price of $380/t. Grain which was not harvested before wet weather set in, and consequently became feed quality, was worth just $180/t.

For Rimanui Farms, these efficiency gains came by being able to start harvest earlier, making the job more attractive for contractors, and by being able to harvest 24 hours a day thanks to the Kotzur grain storage and drying facility. If Rimanui Farms had had to wait for the grain to reach 12% moisture each day they would have only been able to start at midday each day and probably would have stopped by 11pm.

The drying facilities are also regularly used on summer crops. Sorghum has been harvested at 18% moisture and dried down to 12% and, by adding gas burners to the air intake, corn has been dried from 22%t to 12%.

Paramount to the success of the grain drying system is accurate data collection. Rimanui Farms has invested in testing equipment and facilities equivalent to that used by Grain Corp and Cropping Manager, Jim Christie, has undertaken the Grain Trade Australia sampling and receival training.

“Every load that comes into the facility goes on the weighbridge and is sampled and then I decide which silo it’s to go into – usually according to moisture content and quality,” says Christie.

“Once you know what you are doing it becomes quite simple and this system could be easily replicated for any size operation. The biggest investment is in the grain drying and transfer infrastructure – after that adding extra storage is quite easy,” he concludes.

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