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Making Corn Profitable at Mathoura

A Riverina grain grower has found that on-farm drying of corn is not only possible but affordable, and an easy way to retain more profit margin for the enterprise.

John Hibma at Mathoura is one farmer in the mid-Murray Valley who sought greater value and return out of his land, water allocations and irrigation infrastructure by expanding the cropping program on his 1820 hectare (4500 acre) property.

Historically this had been all winter crop but he introduced feed corn as a second crop to follow canola. In the first year of growing feed corn (season 2012) he planted 50 hectares which required drying because of the later planting. The results prompted an increased planting, despite slightly lower prices, in two stages this year.

In John’s region there is not a lot of corn grown, and the conventional wisdom is that it must be processed by expensive high capacity drying systems (in that season), or left standing until the following year, to ensure marketability. However, without drying equipment on-farm, John was faced with transport (up to 100 kilometres) and drying costs of up to $60/tonne before selling his crop. This would have “ate up a lot of the profit”.

His search for answers – locally and globally via the internet – revealed that silo processing was, in fact, possible, and was being utilised successfully not far away at Corowa. John’s search led him to Australian grain storage company AgHub – agents for Superior silos, the IntelliAir system, and Sudenga grain handling equipment.

“Within a month of talking to Alastair from AgHub our system was commissioned and ready for our harvest,” John Hibma recalled. “He was very ‘straight to the point’ and he was back to me with answers very quickly.”

In John’s case the solution involved a 1000 tonne silo, IntelliAir Bin Management System, a small generator (to run the system) and a small diesel burner to warm natural air at a minimal level. The IntelliAir system is described as the first and only grain management system of its kind with in-grain moisture sensors allowing not only the monitoring and automation of what is happening outside the silo, but for the first time, what is happening within. IntelliAir is offered at three levels: Bin Manager- a premier version which is an internet-based control system which gives you access to data on a mobile device or desktop computer, Bin Manager Basic – with full automation on-site with no need for internet, and BinCheck Handheld- providing exterior walk-up access.

The result for John Hibma has been on-farm drying costs estimated at less than half those of the off-farm option, and no transport costs. 

The 1000 tonne silo was more than adequate for drying the 2012 season corn crop, with the crop brought down to the required moisture content in about 4 weeks.

Based on his experience so far, on-farm drying in-silo is perhaps a fifth of off-farm transport and drying costs, and all at a relatively modest capital cost which is highly useable grain storage when not required for drying corn.

“And I didn’t really have to spend a lot of extra money to get the drying facility,” John recalled.

This year, however, the crop was planted in 2 stages so the first, smaller, block should not require artificial drying while the second larger block’s crop should fully utilise the new system to be dried for market. So, the corn is giving me more income from the land, water and infrastructure – including the silo and the IntelliAir which saves me money and gives me a better margin out of growing the corn, John summarised.

“With the Bin Manager you know straight away if something does go wrong – which wasn’t an issue anyway, but it was nice to know you can remedy that if need be – you can keep a good eye on your grain,” he added.

“And if we’d bought just a drying facility it would have doubled our costs, added the handling involved and still not included the 1000 tonne grain storage,” he concluded.

For more information contact Ag Hub - Ian Matheson 0418 695 933

Press Release from Ivor Brayley Advertising Pty Ltd
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Ian Matheson

T 0418 695 933
E ian@aghub.com.au