A Hippo Saved my Life

Struggling and suffering in Zimbabwe with food shortages and a family to provide for, I was at the end of my rope when my husband, who works in South Africa, brought back a Hippo hammer mill with diesel engine over Easter weekend…..

Hippos kill many people in Africa but this Hippo saved my life and will continue to provide for my family long after I am gone. And we even make some money by milling maize for the neighbours.

In this uncertain world, I can always be sure of my Hippo hammer mill.

Advantages of organic mulches in the orchard

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E. Joubert (Subtrop)

Manure, compost, woodchips, slashed material and pruned branches are commonly used as organic mulches in the orchard1. There are many agricultural advantages to correctly applied organic mulches in the soil2,3. These advantages include the presence of natural micro-organisms that enhances plant growth, plant health and product quality1,4,5. Micro-organisms generally include bacteria, fungi, viruses and algae6.

Actinomycetes are a remarkable group of bacteria that provide us with antibiotics we use in medicine today (Streptomyces). Some bacteria work symbiotically with non-legumes as nitrogen fixing bacteria (Frankia) and others such as Clostridium, Azotobacter or Bacillus are free-living nitrogen fixers. Nitrification is the aerobic process in which bacteria (Nitrosomonas & Nitrobacter) transform Nitrogen in the form of applied ammonia to nitrite followed by the oxidation of the nitrite to nitrate which is available for plant uptake. Nitrogen fixing bacteria also bind the nitrogen that is available in the atmosphere into a form that the plant can use. The oxidation process of sulphur that is important for crop production are also driven by bacteria6,7.

Bacteria act as decomposers of plant material (cellulose and lignin) and insect exoskeletons. The ‘eathy’ smell of turned healthy fresh soil is a sign of decomposing bacteria at work. Decomposing bacteria feed on organic mulches and make nutrients available for uptake into the plant. Table 1 lists the factors and practices that may add to the organic mulch content in soil or lead to organic mulch degradation.

Table 1 Factors and practices that influence organic matter contents in the soil8.

Positive factors and practices Negative factors and practices
Conservation farming practices Conventional farming practices
Pruned material remain in the orchard Remove pruned branches from orchard
Cover crops Erosion of top soil
Low soil temperatures and shade High soil temperatures and exposure to direct sun
High soil moisture content Dry soil
Surface cover Burnt vegetation
Compost and manure application Inorganic fertilizers
Adequate nitrogen Too much nitrogen
High plant productivity Low plant productivity
High root : above ground plant material ratio Low root : above ground plant material ratio

 

The addition of manure and compost to soil will raise the soil carbon content and result in unlocking valuable plant nutrients through decomposition. Mulches should ideally have a carbon: nitrogen ration between 25 – 100: 1. BEWARE the problems that can develop due to the injudicious application of compost and manure containing high phosphate (P) levels. Some guidelines when selecting compost and manure include the following:

  • Analyse the compost and manures to determine the nutrient levels.
  • Do not exceed the recommended nutrient application rates.
  • Determine if the fruit buyer or market will allow manure applications.
  • Avoid manure applications where soil P levels are high (> 75ppm, Bray 1 method).
  • Prevent manure and compost losses to surface and ground water.
  • Use composted manure that will contribute to the organic matter content of the soil.

 

One of the most important roles bacteria play in our soils are decomposition3,7. Carbon is an important food source for micro-organisms. In the soil, the organic matter content is 1.72 times the organic carbon content9. Carbon dioxide readily available in the atmosphere and biosphere are the biggest source of carbon in the soil. Other important sources of carbon can be grouped into live material, dead material and composed material9. Live material such as earthworms, plant roots and micro-organisms forms between 2 – 15% of the organic carbon source in the soil. A few recent articles listed the benefits of cover crops as live mulches. Some of the benefits include improved soil fertility, improved soil structure, better water management, reduced soil erosion, trap-crops for controlling pests and diseases and reduced weed pressure10 which in turn reduce the use of herbicides11 and promote of earthworms in the soil12.

Bacteria also plays an important role in the break-down of herbicides in the soil so that the concentrations does not reach poisonous soil levels. Bacteria populations excrete substances that aggregate small quantities of soil. This improves the soil structure which in turn increases the infiltration rate of water into the soil and aeration in the soil. Soil aeration forms a critical part of root and plant health.

Fungi that live in a mutualistic relationship with plants (e.g. Mycorrhiza and Trichoderma) are naturally occurring micro-organisms that can suppress plant pathogens such as Phytophthora and Botritis. These mutualistic fungi live inside roots or form a sheath on the root surface. They compete for space and nutrients with pathogens in and around the plant roots. Mycorrhizas also extend into areas which are often not within reach of plant roots, and thereby increase the total surface area that roots utilise as nutrient resources and water uptake. In turn, the plant provides the fungus with carbohydrates. Phytophthora species are oomycetes, and not fungi. Beneficial micro-organisms can also produce enzymes (cellulases and glucanases) that digest celluloses and glucan molecules in Phytophthora cell walls2. Indeed, mulching is used to control Phytophthora cinnamomi root rot in avocado and is beneficial for the development and reproduction of microbial organisms that are antagonistic to Phytophthora cinnamomi13.

The application of organic mulches has also been proven to increase earthworm populations14. The role of earthworms in the soil are:

  • Earthworms consume and digest organic litter, and excrete it in the form of nutrient-rich humus.
  • Take soil particles and organic material deeper into the soil where decomposed nutrients are made available to the deeper roots of plants.
  • Improve soil structure, aeration and drainage, which in turn can reduce soil compaction and crusting.

 

Another advantage of mulching is a reduced tree stress. A mulch layer serve as a temperature buffer since it reduces soil exposure to direct sunlight and consequently overheating of plant roots. In winter, mulches can result in warmer soil temperatures that allows for longer daily growth periods and earlier spring flushes2. Mulches significantly reduce evaporative water loss from the soil surface, improves soil permeability, biodiversity and significantly reduce soil compaction1,9,13. It is important to note that irrigation practices should be amended where mulches are applied in order to prevent waterlogged conditions that will promote anaerobic bacterial growth which has negative effects on plant health and pathogen related problems such as Phytophthora infection and root death due to hypoxic (no oxygen) conditions2. In a recent presentation at the South African Avocado Growers Organizations’ Research Symposium, Schoeman & Nortjé provided proof for the alleviating effect of 2L/m2 compost (costing R 3 600/ha) or 2g/m2 polyacrylamide (costing R 312/ha) on soil crusting. Soil crusting results in oxygen negative conditions15 and Phytophthora infection is a result of soil compaction16, while aeration increases nutrient availability and uptake and reduced nitrogen losses17.

Sustainable farming orientated table grape growers in the Western Cape saved 15 – 20% water and their nitrogen application costs reduced with 40% due to the increased soil carbon levels following mulches. In addition, their herbicide usage reduced with 65% even though the labour costs increased12. In summary, organic mulches plays an important role in biological, physical and chemical soil characterization. Mulches promotes an environment that beneficially affects plant health and product quality. Cultivated crops that originate form areas where the decomposed organic mulch layers occur naturally beneath the plants, will benefit from well aerated soils that contain high levels of organic mulch.

 

References

  1. Sheard, A. 2009. Mulching of Litchis. July SALGA Newsletter.
  2. Christie, B. 2012. Mulches: Good or bad? Nutshell 2012; Avoinfo 183, 2013; SALGA newsletter March 2013.
  3. van Wyk, D. 2015. Bestuur organiese materiaal vir volhoubare landbou. Arena 47: 54-56.
  4. Vidal, M.T., Azcón-Aguilar, C. & Barea, J.M. 1992. Mycorrhizal Inoculation Enhances Growth and Development of Micropropagated Plants of Avocado. Hortscience 27: 785-787.
  5. Singh, H.P. & Babita, S. 2002. Lychee Production in India. In: Papademetriou, M. K. & Dent, F. J. (eds). Lychee Production in the Asia-Pacific Region. FAO/RAP Publication: 2001/09.
  6. Alexander, M. 1961. Introduction to Soil Microbiology. John Wiley & Sons. New York.
  7. van der Merwe, R. 2015. Goggas en ander goeters in die grond is voordelig vir gewasse. Arena 47: 52-53.
  8. Brady, N. C. & Weil, R. R. 2008. The nature and properties of soil. 14th Edition. Pearson Prentice Hall. New Jersey.
  9. Nel, A. 2015. Trek droogte se angel met bewaringslandbou. Landbouweekblad 1927: 46-48.
  10. Campbell, T. 2014. Cover crops – a sustainable management tool. South African Subtropical Growers Organization Journal 6: 50-53.
  11. Raats, J. 2015. Wenner woeker met grondorganismes. Landbouweekblad 1927: 50-53.
  12. Botha, L. 2016. Só versag grondbestuur tafeldruifboer se risiko’s. Landbouweekblad 1943: 44-47.
  13. Tuney, J. & Menge, J. 1994. Root health: mulching to control root disease in avocado and citrus. California Avocado Society. Circular No. CAS-94/2.
  14. Tian, G. & Kang, B.T. 1997. Effect of Mulch Quality on Earthworm Activity and Nutrient Supply in the Humid Tropics. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 29: 369-373.
  15. Mills, A. & Fey, M. 2004. Frequent fires intensify soil crusting: physicochemical feedback in the pedoderm of long-term burn experiments in South Africa. Geoderma 121: 45-64.
  16. Joubert, D. & Labuschagne, N. 1998. Effect of soil compaction on Phytophthora nicotianae root rot in Rough lemon and Troyer citrange citrus seedlings. African Plant Protection 4: 123-128.
  17. Schoeman, S. & Nortjé, G. 2016. Avocado soil surface crusting & PAM. South African Avocado Growers Organization’s Research Symposium.

Avocado root rot control program

This work was motivated by the presentations given by Elizabeth Dann at the SAAGA research symposium and phosphonate workshop held in February 2017.

Compiled by Nico Claassens & Elsje Joubert

Reviewed & improved by Stephan Schoeman & Henk Kuperus

Avocado fruit Elsje Joubert Avocado root flush Elsje Joubert Compost heap Elsje Joubert Cover crops Sunhemp Elsje Joubert Healthy avocado nursery tree Elsje Joubert Healthy avocado roots Elsje Joubert Size of Cover crops Sunhemp Elsje Joubert Tree injection Elsje Joubert Windbreaks Elsje Joubert

1. New Plantings
1.1 Soil preparation 1.1.1 Do a deep cross-rip of the new orchard.
1.1.2 Do soil pH (KCl: 5.0 – 5.5 or H2O: 5.8 – 6.2) correction according to soil analyses.
1.1.3 Adjust kation balances at least 3-6 months prior to planting. Ca(60-75%): Mg(15-20%): K(5-12%)
1.1.4 Do a phosphate correction to a depth of at least 60 cm.
1.1.5 Constructing ridges of 40 to 70 cm high x 2.5 m wide at the top on a 8 m row spacing.
1.1.6 Plant legumes (nitrogen fixing plants) or certain mustards as biofumigants.
1.1.7 Aim to improve the soil organic matter content by planting green manure and working it into the soil at least 3 months prior to planting or by the addition of compost, manure or continued application of liquid carbon. Mix compost / kraal manure into the soil to maintain good soil health through the continuous introduction of organic matter in the vorm of organic acids / manure or chips. Ground covers will help to stabilize the soil. Try to establish cover crops between the rows and do not apply raw manure to young trees.
1.1.8 Plan rows to allow for drainage, respect and use natural water sources, and if necessary, apply underground drainage, make watertrenches to avoid any surface water accumulation.
1.2 Planting of trees 1.2.1 Plant holes should be squired off by a spade. Ensure trees are not planted too deep / shallow.
1.2.2 Mix composted organic matter with the planthole soil before closing the hole again.
1.2.3 Paint the stems of the trees before planting with a potassium-, aluminium- or ammoniumphosphonate (or foliar application) and then paint the tree stems with a diluted white PVA paintmixture.
1.2.4 Always follows the products applied recommendations and only use registered products
1.2.5 Plant according to avocado planting recommendations supplied by the nursery.
1.2.6 Only plant certified trees with root rot resistant rootstocks such as Dusa or Bounty as clonal rootstocks and Velcick as a seedling rootstock.
1.2.7 Apply an organic mulch at least 1m around the tree without closing up the tree stem. The organic mulch may also form part of the retaining wall to consentrate the irrigated water around the tree which keeps the soil cool, reduce weed growth, prevent crusting and improve the soil.
1.2.8 First irrigation water should consist of a mixture of cytokinins and bascillus simbiotics to stimulate root growth and improve root and soil health. Repeat the  treatment every three months for the first year of planting.
1.3 After planting care 1.3.1 Irrigation water should be concentrated in the basin of the trees for at least the first 6 months to ensure the planting medium is wetted as well during irrigation without over irrigating the surrounding soil. If a irrometer is used to schedule  the irrigation there should be one placed into the surrounding soil and into the potting mix for the first six months or until the roots has grown into the surrounding soil. Make sure not to manage young trees too wet or not too dry.
1.3.2 Apply potassium- or ammonium phosphanate in the soil (as per label as soil drench, leaf or stem paint treatment) in the first two weeks after planting. Repeat every three months or replace it with a suitable biological product.
1.3.3 The trees should be sprayed monthly with products that contain both all relevant plant nutrients as well as plant stimulants such as cytokinins and auxins.
1.3.4 Spray or paint the stems monthly with Fosetyl-Al at 3.75g/? water for at least the first six(6) months.
1.3.5 Protect the tree against adverse enviromental conditions (sunburn and frost damage) by sparaying it regularly with a coaline product and or anti-stres products.
1.3.6 Fertilise the tree on a regular basis with fertiliser that contains N.P.K +Mg and with micro-nutriënt products such as zink and boron. There are products such as Ghwamis / controled release from Haifa that contains all this nutrients and is applied only ones a season for the first three years. Alternative: SAAGA mix – dry mixture of 3 parts KAN, 2 parts MAP and 1 part KNO3. Apply 20g SAAGA mix per tree for the first 18 months.
1.4 Pest & disease control 1.4.1 Enclose the trees individuely or the total planted area to protect the trees against antilope and other vertibra annimals.
1.4.2 Monitor regularly for the  locasts, beetles, termites and thrips that might damage the trees. Use a suitable registered product when neccassary.
2. Replant of Avocado’s: Adhere to all above mentioned points and give special attention to the following points.
2.1 Apply kraal- or chicken manure at least two months before planting on the plant rows and work it in.
2.2 Apply mulch under the trees after planting with a good quality mulch at least 1meter diameter around the tree.
2.3 Use a microbial soil conditioner to stimulate the soil microbes and to protect the trees against phytophthora infestations.
2.4 NB! The trees must be established on ridges to ensure good drainage and aeration of the soil. It is essential for root growth and health.
2.5 Intensive care must be taken to ensure good root growth and soil health for the first year after planting.
3. Non Bearing trees
3.1 General 3.1.1 Treat the soil against P.c. spores with metalaxyl at the beginning of the season and repeat the treatment six months later or use a biological soil conditioner six weeks after the metalaxyl treatment and repeat after three months.
3.1.2 Paint or spray the tree stems with a potassium-or ammonium phophate product every three months.
3.2. Trees with P. c. 3.2.1 Apply metalaxyl at the start of the season to the soil (according to tree age). After every metalaxyl treatment a biological soil conditioner should follow.
3.2.2 Paint or spray the tree stems with a registered potassium- or ammonium phosphanate product every two weeks
3.2.3 If the stems are thicker than 30mm it can then be injected with a single 20ml dosage of a suitable potassium- or ammonium phosphanate product, every 6 months. Injections should only be done as a last resort.
4. Bearing Trees
4.1. P.c. Already present 4.1.1 Inject the trees twice a season with a registered potassium- or ammonium phophanate prduct. Take care to ensure the prescribe MRL levels would not be exceeded at time of harvest.
4.1.2 First injection of the season should occur directly after fruit set.
4.1.3 Second injection four months later. The second injection should not be closer than 100 days before harvest.
4.1.4 Pick all the set fruit from infected trees to reduce the stress on the tree and treat it. Heavy invested trees should not be allowed to have fruit on because it slow down the recovery proses.
4.2. Maintenance 4.2.1 Only one series of injection per season after fruit set, usually in spring
4.2.2 Follow up with two leave sprays with a registered potassium- or ammonium phosphante product with a 90 day interval between sprays. Three months after the injection. Leaves flush must be semi matured. No more reddish leaves. Use with a penetrater product for best results.
5. General practises to maintain good root health
5.1 Soil should always be well aerated and drained with no compacted layers up to  a depth of 1000mm.
5.2 Always plant on ridges if possible to ensure good drainage and soil erasion.
5.3 Irrigation scheduling should always aim to induce oxygen into the soil profile as well, not just for applying water.
5.4 Increase the organic compound of the soil for improved aeration and microbial activity. Apply organic mulch around trees where there is no natural organic layer present for instance young newly planted trees or trees that lost its normal leave mulch deu to P.c infestation.
5.5 Keep Calcium(Ca) levels optimum. Base saturation should be between 65% to 75% depending of the soil texture.
5.6 Boron is also essential for root health and growth. Apply regularly small amounts through the irrigation or twice a season every six months with a slow release boron product.
6. Water & irrigation systems
6.1 Do a water test to determine the mineral as well as the pathogenic content. Attached is the water standards regulations.
6.2 Ensure the irrigation system is suitable for avocado irrigation and fertigation so that fertigation can be done through the system.
6.3 Use soft acid products to clean the system from salt and mineral layers and particles on a regular base.
6.4 Hydrogen peroxide shoiuld be used on a continious base to ensure the water and irrigation pipes stay clear of organic films and can be pathogen free.
6.5 Use irrometers to do irrigation scheduling.  Also use a soil auger to monitor the irrometers and irrigation shedule.

Delivery of Grizzly Chippers to Pecan Country

It was the middle of July, on a cold winter’s morning.  Scanwood Solutions delivered two Grizzly chippers to Nutmech in the heart Pecan Country in the heart of the Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme.

Nutmech had arranged the sale, subsequent delivery and demonstration of two models of Chippers, the Grizzly 180 (http://www.scanwood.co.za/products/Grizzly-Wood-Chippers/Grizzly_Chipper_BX72R_180-woodchipper.php) and the Grizzly 250 (http://www.scanwood.co.za/products/Grizzly-Wood-Chippers/Grizzly_Chipper_BX102R_254-woodchipper.php). The chippers were demonstrated using Kubota orchard tractors. The wood supplied was freshly hedged Pecan Nut. James Pitout of Scanwood Solutions was on hand to provide product knowledge and training on the two models on display.

The farmers were impressed with the chipping ability of the chippers. One asked me if it could keep up with his staff feeding wood into the chipper. I replied by saying his staff wouldn’t be possible for his staff to overfeed it.

Farmers’ comments about the chipper included many remarks on the rugged build of the chippers; the ease of maintenance as well as the affordability thereof. They also appreciated the availability of spares in South Africa and the three-year warranty.

The success of the day was revealed in the sale of two further chippers during the demonstrations.

grizzly-180-pdi-nutmech-2y

News: The online shop

Presenting the new ABC online shop.

ABC Hansen onine shop example

Hippo Mills – an Original Story of The Great Age

In the fall of 1928 the Hippo hammer mill was officially launched at the Royal Show in Pietermaritzburg, capital of Natal, Province just three years after the Prince of Wales opened the show in 1925. The mill was named after Hubert the hippo who caused big scale damage to crops in the area.

This was a time when the motor car was just becoming fashionable and Che Guevara was born and several years before Coca Cola arrived at African shores.

Many small changes has brought the Hippo to a full range of nine sized mills from 4kW to 110kW. However it still remains a cast iron mill, the same as Arthur Collins launched 88 years ago.Hippo hammer mill close up

 

Textured soy protein (tsp) part ii

Soy bean used in oil expelling

As you read in part 1 of this blog, we discussed the current desire to eat healthier which has resulted in an increased demand for textured soy protein (TSP) as a protein replacement due to its affordability and ability to blend well. In part 2, we will discuss what items you need to produce TSP as well as current market trends. There are two very different approaches to produce TSP and Insta-Pro can help you with either option that makes sense for you. First, is to mechanically process your own soy ingredient utilizing the ExPress® system. The second is to purchase solvent extracted soybean meal or flour. I will walk you through both and their trade-offs.

Mechanically Processed ExPress Meal
In order to produce TSP, you must have the proper equipment and ingredients to ensure a quality end product. If you are using a mechanical process to make it, you will need a dehuller, in addition to the Insta-Pro High Shear Extruder, Insta-Pro press and cooler along with additional support equipment. The extruder and press are used to extract oil, then the product is cooled. At that point the soy is prepped for the Insta-Pro TSP extruder, cut, dried and cooled. The advantage of this approach is that soy still has 6-8% oil and it has been prepared by the high shear extruder giving it a superior taste and mouth feel. The challenge to this approach is it is a higher investment. If you currently have an ExPress® plant (Extruder + Press = Oil and Meal), you can more easily include additional equipment to process TSP at a lower capital investment.

Read more at insta-pro.com

Textured soy protein (tsp) part 1

Soy bean used in oil expelling

The current desire to eat healthier has increased the demand for textured soy protein (TSP) as a protein replacement due to its affordability and ability to blend well. There are many ways TSP can be used, but the two most common uses of TSP are: meat extender and meat replacement. A meat extender is typically used as an additive to other meat products, such as sausages, hamburgers, fish, etc. TSP as a meat replacement can be consumed to provide amino acids whenever meat may not be available or preferred. While meat replacement is a product comprised solely of TSP, meat extender is more commonly used than meat replacement. According to a short course at the Texas A&M University, the market seems to be larger for meat extender than meat replacement. Meat extender possesses around 70% of the market, leaving meat replacement with only about 30%.

Making good quality TSP is important, but measuring quality is very controversial, and experts have many diverse opinions regarding what this entails. Everybody tends to agree that absorption capacity is a key item for quality and a good industry average for absorption capacity is around 300-400%. Some countries prefer TSP made from soybean meal flour (flour obtained from a solvent extraction process) which has very little fat, normally around 1% or less. Some countries request soy containing 45% protein while others require at least 50%, but this differs based on the quality of the soy rather than the process. Other countries prefer TSP made out of flour from mechanical process (referring to extruder + press) where the fat is around 6-8%. The problem some encounter is that not all extruders have the capacity to make TSP from a flour of 6 to 8% fat.

In order for TSP to look more appetizing to the consumer, there are several colors that can be blended in to give it the appearance of the meat it is added to. The most commonly used color is caramel, but pink is also used very often since it’s easier to mix with sausages and hamburgers. Yet, in Asia, they prefer their TSP to be as light as possible to mix it in with fish.

At Insta-Pro International, we have been making TSP from flour of 6% – 8% fat for many years and can assist with this process worldwide (excluding the United States and Canada). Another thing that people consider in the quality of TSP is its shelf life because of the limited resources some places may have to replace it. TSP made with our machines and processes has been proven to last around 1.7 years which is the industry average shelf life/storage conditions.

Read more at insta-pro.com

Milling and dust

Dust generated by a mill

For smaller mills, and especially mills like hammer mills that runs at high RPM, dust is one of the biggest problems for a milling enterprise.

It’s not only a health hazard to those working with the machine and in its surrounds, but it wastes a great deal of product and it may be the cause for really serious accidents such as dust explosions.

Dust simply extracted from the premises creates other problems when it gathers on roofs, causing rust and rotting on roofs and  gutters, down pipes and generally soiling the environment. It is also unsustainable when having neighbours in an industrial area.

Dust is generated in many areas of a processing unit, especially with dry products such as at cleaning / separation, conveyance, unloading from trucks, intake dump pits into silos or bins, at intake into a mill, at milling output, at loading pellet mills, at various screening centres, at aspiration centres, at packing areas.

Dust generated by a mill 2

The best way is to start correctly, at design. If already with the problem, it’s best to start where most dust is generated and work you way back to the smaller problem areas.

Much innovative design turned Hippo hammer mills from a massive dust generator since 1928 right through to the past few years when this issue was prioritised by ABC Hansen , into a dustless hammermill through the following measures:

  1. Input control mechanism whereby intake is regulated as airflow is restricted when the screen is filled, thereby not overloading the cyclone and ducting creating more back pressure. This mechanism also serves to limit back-splash to an almost unperceivable level.
  2. Re-design of cyclones for higher efficiency. Custom designed cyclones can be produced for specific products if the standard cyclone is not efficient enough. The correct cyclone design creates no dust at bag-off and actually creates an inverted air flow back into the cyclone from the bag.
  3. Simple mechanical airlock valves without any electric drive at bag-off point – especially suitable where the product flows directly into a conveyor or air pick-up for further processing.
  4. Dust manifolds with sufficient filter bags to avoid back pressure that can be easily cleaned and all dust recovered.

Why should you store your grain yourself?

A photo showing a farm silo in South Africa

A Silo Complex in South Africa

Farm storage has become more popular over the past 20 years in the South African context – where farmers have been putting up more and more of these on-farm storage silos for the following reasons:

  1. To become more independent from the large agricultural companies – by being able to take their grain to market at a time and a price that is convenient for the farmer
  2. By being able to store a portion of their grain for their own use – most farmers are mixed use – being both crop farmers and cattle or sheep – so the farmers is able to keep a portion of his crop back – safely without the risk of storage losses – to feed his own animals during winter or to improve their condition
  3. To save on transportation costs – instead of having the cost of transporting the grain from the farm to the silos in the nearest town, the grain can be stored on the farm itself, and then the buyer of the grain will send his own trucks to collect the grain from the farm – basically cutting out the entire transport cost for the farmer.
  4. To be able to get the crop off the field quicker and with less waiting time – saving time and money. The biggest complaint from farmers delivering to large silo complexes during harvest season is the waiting time at the silos – where their trucks are standing in line, waiting for their loads to be graded and unloaded into the silos – precious time that puts a hold on the harvesting rate on the farm – costing extra time and extra money – the quicker the farmer can get the crop off of the field, at the time that is right for him – the better his yield will be, and the quicker he’ll have his money in the bank.
  5. The silo projects are easily financeable with traditional bank loans or with rent to own financing options making initial capital expenses much lower and the project much more viable.
  6. The payback of capital with the savings on just the above 3 factors are on average 5 years. After that the farmer laughs all the way to the bank.

ABC Hansen has been putting up on-farm grain storage facilities for farmers in sub-Saharan Africa for the past 16 years – helping farmers and grain traders becoming more efficient and more independent.