Everything About Grain Bins (Farmers are Geniuses) – Smarter Every Day 218


– Holy cow, there’s a lot going on here! Hey, it’s me Destin, welcome
back to Smarter Everyday. When you eat today, that’s
food going to get to your plate from field like this, and
before it gets in that field, it’s going to pass through the hand and the wallet of a farmer, like this. I say wallet, because
he has to use something, more than likely, called a grain bin. Today on Smarter Everyday,
we’re going to talk about the science, the
engineering, the economics, everything that goes
into using a grain bin to get food from the field to your plate. Trey, is it a really good
thing to have a grain bin? – It is. – Why? – Oh, for logistics, and economics’ sake. It buys you time getting
the grain out of the field, and hopefully as the winter goes on, the bases improves, and you can get a higher price for you grain. – Today on Smarter Everyday,
we’re going to talk about all that, by building a grain bin, and then figuring out how
they use these things. Let’s go get smarter everyday. (guitar riff) These things are everywhere. I’ve always called them silos,
but that’s not exactly right. Now, it’s true, these tall
skinny ones are silos. They sometimes contain a
special type of feed called silage for animals, but these short, fat ones, those aren’t silos. Those are called grain bins,
and I’ve been on a quest to see if I can everything
I can know about them. My farmer buddy Trey is also an engineer, who went to Arburn University. We like to talk about mechanical problems he has to solve out on the farm. When he told me he was pouring a huge concrete pad for a grain bin, that he was going to buy, I was intrigued. The foundation for this thing
was 52 yards of concrete, heavily reinforced with steel rebar. And the more I thought about the forces this thing has to put up with, like wind blowing on the
side of a huge structure, literally tons of grain on the inside, the scale of this concrete pad started to make more and more sense. Trey explained that these things are sold as a kit, kits that are engineered to be assembled on
site, by an expert crew. If you had a crew of only three people but no crane or tall ladder, how would you build this thing? It’s over 30 feet tall,
and weighs several tons. The more I thought about this, the more I realized that
there had to be a simple, clever technique that I
just didn’t know about. So, I decided to try to work
myself on to one of these crews to see what I could
learn over several days. So, what do you call that tool? – Punch. – [Destin] Yeah, just using
a punch for alignment? – Yeah. – [Destin] What’s your name man? – I’m Danny. – Danny, I’m Destin man, nice to meet you. – Nice to meet you. – [Destin] And what was your name? – Nicholas. – [Destin] Nicholas,
nice to meet you, dude. – Pleasure. – [Destin] Do you guys all
over the place doing this? – That’s all we do, yeah. – [Destin] Really? The way it’s going to
work is you’re gonna build this ring, and then use
those jacks to do what? – Drill both them jacks
to these sidewall sheets, every other sheet, all the way around, to that center pump down, right there, and we’ll jack them all at the same time. – [Destin] So it’s a hydraulic pump? And so you just hydraulically
jack it all the way around? – The whole thing up, and
then we put another ring on, drop our jacks and
connect to the next ring, jack it up, and fix the next
ring, just keep pushing it up. – [Destin] It was
immediately clear that there was a ton of work to do at this job site. So, to earn the trust of the crew, I asked Danny what is it
that they did not want to do, and I immediately started doing that. So, I’ve learned if you
want to work on a crew, it really helps to do the crap jobs, because once you do that,
you kind of establish credibility, and then they’ll let you do some of the bigger stuff. But right now, I am assembling vents for the top of the roof line. I just started working, and
they didn’t make me go away. (upbeat music) You know what’s a big deal? Punches. Punches are a
big deal because you stick it through one sheet of corrugated metal, and use it as a lever to align that sheet of the metal on the back,
and then you align it, and then you can put a bolt
through an adjacent hole. Punches are huge. This is a fascinating engineering marvel. It’s a fascinating process to assemble. And I always thought
they’re pretty in a field, with the sunset, and maybe
a hay bail or something. No, I’m going to think about engineering, when I look at these from now on, and I am going to think about punches, because punches are the best. At least today, punches are the best. (upbeat music) Okay, we now have a completed grain bin, now it’s time to put grain in it. Trey called me out to the
field a few months later, when he was harvesting
beans, and when I pulled up, he was offloading his
combine into a truck. I asked him if I could
jump into the cab with him while he finished the last few rows. Holy cow, there’s a lot going on here! That’s a lot to look at, dude. – There’s a lot going on. – [Destin] You are mentally engaged this whole time, aren’t you? – Oh, very much so. See that? Instantaneous
averages of how much is in the sieve just now,
which is pretty good. – [Destin] Do you love this? – It’s pretty fun. – [Destin] This is very awesome. It seems like this is awesome
when it’s working right now, but it looks like there’s a lot of maintenance involved in this. – Oh, there is, there’s
a lot of maintenance, and if it breaks, it’s really aggravating. – [Destin] That statement was prophetic, because literally 15 seconds later, a shower came out of nowhere and it hit the field we were working on. Now, Trey said we should stop harvesting but he didn’t want me to drive back home without the good footage I wanted, because I’ve been wanting to ride in his combine with him for years. So, why are you stopping
when it’s raining? – Oh no, that’s bad. – [Destin] What happened? – It choked it down. – [Destin] It was at this
moment that I learned that something as simple
as a 30 second rain shower can lead to huge problems for a farmer. Because the crop got wet, and
we didn’t immediately stop harvesting, it choked out the combine, which made me feel a little bit guilty, because I kind of got
Trey into this situation, but not really, because I got
to see something firsthand I’ve often heard about farmers. When a farmer has a mechanical problem, they don’t wait for help. They know their equipment inside and out, and they wrap a wrench or a tool, and they just start taking things apart, and fixing it immediately. It’s very impressive. This is where it’s most
impressive to me about farming. When you break it, there’s
nobody to call, is there? – No. – [Destin] I won’t lie,
before I came over here I was feeling sorry for myself because my lawnmower was bound up. Sure enough, about 40 minutes of this, Trey and his brother Clay had everything figured out and working again. Anyways, back to the beans. Here’s how Clay was getting
the beans into the grain bin. How long does this take? – About 10 minutes, (murmurs)… – [Destin] 10 minutes, and
you’ll get a whole bucket up, I mean a whole truck up there? – Yeah, it might be, but it just depends. – [Destin] So, this truck
can hold around 400 bushels of soybeans, some of which got rained on. And the grain bin we built
can hold 48000 bushels. So, if we use this auger
and we put these wet beans in with the dry beans, how do these wet beans not spoil the whole harvest? So, one of the most important things that a bin like this can do is dry the grain, is that correct? – That’s right. This fan blows the air
up and under the plenum, in the bottom of the bin, and
then up through the grain. – [Destin] That’s a beast
of a fan, can we hear it. – It is, we can. (fan whirring) – [Destin] Dude, that
thing’s eating some air, man. – It is. – [Destin] So, Trey mentioned a plenum. Remember that flooring they put in when they were assembling the grain bin? That’s what he’s talking about. It’s got holes in the floor
that are just big enough for the fan to blow air through,
but not so big that grain falls through it, to the
bottom of the grain bin. That means the entire floor
acts like a duct work, to evenly distribute the
air through the grain. When the beans are first
loaded into the bin, because it’s straight out of the field, the moisture level might be
too high to store long-term. Things like mold or
fungus could be an issue. In order to increase the storage life, the moisture has to be brought down. The fan blows to the bottom of the grain, and then moves up
through all of the grain, all the way to the top. As the air passes moist grain, the skin or the shell of the
bean gives off some of that water content, and when the air passes it, it raises the humidity of the air. Let’s take a look at one individual bean. The outer skin is permeable, meaning moisture can pass through it. As long as the moisture level
of the air passing by the bean is significantly less than
the moisture in the bean, water will exit the
bean and drying occurs. As air absorbs more and more water, at some point, it doesn’t want anymore. That air then continues to move up towards the top of the bin, but
now it has more water in it. So, something interesting happens. This is essentially what
farmers have to deal with. The bottom of the grain
bin is going to dry first, because that’s where the
moisture-to-bean balance ratio is, and the top of the grain
bin is going to dry last. Because the air can only
contain so much moisture, there’s going to be a 1-2
foot section of the beans that are drying at any one
time, and that’s going to start at the bottom, and move
all the way to the top. And the farmer has to know
when his beans are dry, because if he gets it wrong,
he starts losing money. So, how do you make money? You sell grain based on, what? – Based on weight. – [Destin] Weight. So it’s not to your
advantage to dry the grain out too much because it loses weight. – That’s right. So you dry it for storage,
and then you would sample it, and if it’s too dry, you could cut it on, you’ve got high humidity,
and add moisture back to it. – [Destin] How do you measure the moisture in the grain, is it just by feel? – With a moisture tester. – [Destin] What, really? You’ve got a gadget? – We’ve got a gadget. – [Destin] All right, let’s
go look at the gadget. How long does it take to… It’s testing. – These are 11.4. – [Destin] 11.4 percent. How did it do that? – I don’t know how that works. – [Destin] What’s an ideal moisture level? – I think 12, 12 or 12 in a half. I would have to look, I can’t remember. – [Destin] So, if you get
paid per weight of the bean, but it’s measured in volume… Trey showed me a little tool
called a test weight scale. You fill it up with beans,
and it gives you an idea for the weight of your crop,
based on the packing factor. So, as a farmer, are you trying to hit a certain moisture level,
and size of the bean, because it’s a trade off
between packing factor? – Bigger beans are better,
they make you more yield per acre, more bushels per
acre, the bigger the bean. – [Destin] One of Trey’s
neighbors is a farmer named Jeff, with a much larger operation, and he happened to be
selling soy beans that day. So, we went down to his farm, and watched the trucks get loaded up. So, the ultimate reason
to have a grain bin is… He’s selling this grain now that it’s at a premium price, right? – Correct. – [Destin] Okay, so this haul
18-wheeler, look at this. Did you get a good price? He said he hoped he got a good price. Because the grain bin was almost empty, Jeff and Trey let us go inside and get better look at
how the mechanics work. – One of the sweeps going in there, if you want to film that? – [Destin] Yeah! Holy cow! Trey explained that once the
grain falls, due to gravity, there’s an auger that
crawls around the floor and pushes the grain towards the center, where another auger that’s
built into the floor can push it out so it can
be loaded onto the truck. He also explained that
the inside of a grain bin is one of the most dangerous
places for farmers. So, you can get down in
it, and it can entrap you? – Right, and so you get
caught up in that grain, and that wall flats in, and
either one, get suffocated, or two, get wrapped up in the auger. It would be a bad way to go. – [Destin] So, it’s a pretty
dangerous place to be. – Right, and so that’s why we’re here, that’s why we don’t walk over there. And, as well, if this bin was full, you wouldn’t want to walk
across the top of it, if it had been dried or crusted over, or anything like that,
because it can get… It could collapse on you. – [Destin] Like voids in the middle of it? – That happens, and also
a lot of the times people will get into these bins when
they’re augering this out, they get stopped up, and
try to get it unstopped, or something like that. And then it’ll cave in,
you’ll get moving grain, and you get sucked in like quicksand. – [Destin] We were able
to enter this grain bin because it was almost empty, and we were walking on the floor. But I’m really glad we could because it gave me a moment to reflect. Grain bins are super important. They’re one of the most
important tools for efficient farming, and for the
security of our food supply. And, as you know, the key to keeping grain bins like this full, it’s farmers. Farmers are the backbone of America. What I’m learning about
farmers, like yourself Jeff, is that you guys are good at
meteorology, biology, right? Math. You’re good at engineering, and making stuff work in the field. And economics, so you guys
have to do everything. – Pretty much. But we may not be good at
it, but we have to do some… – [Destin] I’ve noticed every
farmer that I say that to– – Accounting. – [Destin] Accounting? Every farmer I say something
to, they say that immediately after I mention how
difficult their job is. They always say, “Yeah, but we ain’t “good at it, blah, blah blah.” Y’all are sandbaggers, is what you are. – Well, you hire people. I gotta a guy that helps
me with my marketing, I got a good accountant, you
pay people for their services, that are good, and you try to
make the rest of it work out. – [Destin] So you guys are
businessmen like no other. There’s no other job in
America like this, is there? – I don’t know, I stay on a farm. – [Destin] That’s awesome,
you guys are good. You all are sandbaggers. I’m convinced that
farmers are the smartest people out there, but you like
to pretend that you’re not. – We’re not very smart. – [Destin] Whatever. This episode of Smarter
Everyday is sponsored by Hello Fresh, a meal
kit delivery service, where they send you
ingredients to your house, and you just follow a
simple 6-step recipe. And you can make awesome food. I’m going to see how my kids
do with this, you ready? – Yes, sir. – Go for it. – Whole garlic cloves. – Do you have any idea how
hard it is to grow food? I’ve been trying to grow corns for years, it is a challenging thing. I am thankful for farmers. I’m also thankful for Hello Fresh, who brings the food to my house in ways we can turn into a delicious meal, without doing anything. Think about my kids in there. Ten and 12, they’re
making an awesome meal, just by following a recipe. You can totally do it if they
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meals in your first month, by going to hellofresh.com, use the promo code smarter80 at checkout. That’s like an $80 value. There are three plans to choose from, and you can switch whenever you want. Seriously, look at this,
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Fresh, I totally recommend it, go to hellofresh.com, and use the promo code smarter80 at checkout. Get yourself a discount, and
get out of that recipe rut. Start eating interesting
things that you make yourself. It’s awesome. All right, I hope you enjoyed this episode of Smarter Everyday, I hope
you appreciate farmers. Please consider subscribing
if this kind of content is what you want to see
on Smarter Everyday. And be praying for my corns, every year, doesn’t work for me. We’ll see how it goes. I think we’re going to win this year. I’m feeling good about this corns.

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