With an estimated 80 million acres of soybeans planted this year, we expect many first time and continued grain bagger operators alike will have some questions about the best tips to bag soybeans.
We get lots of questions about grain bagging, and we love educating. We have bagged grain (corn, soybeans, wheat) on our own farm for more than a decade.
How do we accomplish this? To be honest, when you hear people having trouble with grain bagging its almost 99% of the time something that could have been avoided if some thinking and prep had been done ahead of harvest.
So right now is the perfect time to start planning and prepping if you plan to store some of your grain in bags.
These are best practices to use when bagging any type of grain , but today we are focusing on soybeans.
Prepare and Level your Site
Now, before harvest, is a good time to start planning where you will place your grain bags.
Pick the most level site you can find. If this isn’t possible for your farm, then keep in mind that you need to always bag down the hill or slope, never up hill.
Always choose a place furthest away from wooded areas, or places you know there is always a pest problem.
Level your site by grading or preferred method so if you get a hard rain while your grain is in bags, the water will run away from the bag, not to it. You can even create a “crown” and bag on top of that, ensuring that any rain will run away from the bag.
You are also doing this to make the ground smooth so there aren’t sharp objects visibly sticking up that could puncture your bag.
Spread Ammonium Nitrate
If you are worried about pests or mice, spreading ammonium nitrate (never sulfur) down where your bag will go before bagging is a good idea.
Use bag stretch indicators
Any grain bag you use should have a stretch indicator on it that shows you how full to fill the bags. A general rule of thumb is that your plastic should never stretch passed 10% from its original size. Stretching your bag to the max should not be the goal, it should be the limit.
Call if you’re not sure
Its always better safe than sorry. We’ve been bagging grain for over a decade with continued success. If you have a question at any stage of grain bagging with a Richiger bagger, call our Service Manager Ted Finck at 573-823-9077 (direct line). Most issues can be handled with a quick adjustment over the phone. We also have a service plane that we use for issues we cant resolve over the phone that is able to land in your field and help on site quickly. Learn more about our service dept here.
Check bags weekly
Check your bags weekly just like you would your grain bins. With bags you are looking for any tears or holes in the plastic. If you see a tear or hole, there is bag repair tape that should be used to repair that and it works great.
Use Creolin 1x a month
After you’ve bagged your grain and if you are still worried about pests or wildlife, spraying a light spray of Creolin over the top and sides of your grain bag will almost guarantee nothing will want to be around it. This has a recommended repeat of 1x a month.
Check out some footage below of us bagging grain on our own farm.
Due to global and local demand for food, lack of storage, prices, trade wars and farmers wanting to take more control over their grain, grain bagging has become a popular extra storage solution.
We have been bagging grain on our farm for 12+ years bagging soybeans, wheat and corn.
Let’s take a look at some reasons you might choose to bag your grain:
1. Grain bags keep your grain protected in an oxygen free environment. This oxygen free environment virtually eliminates insects and molds without the use of chemical substances. Most mycotoxins and yeasts, including aflatoxins, cannot prosper in this anaerobic atmosphere that is hostile to pathogens.
2. Grain bagging gives you all the storage capacity you will ever need whether you need to store 30,000 or 1,000,000 bushels of corn, barley, soybeans, rice, canola, sunflower, or any other grain.
3. Fuel costs are decreased because you can bag your grain right in the field, and not have to travel back and forth to the grain bin, often located a distance from the field you are harvesting. Your cost for hired help can go down too, we have seen some of our customers decrease their truck and hired help load to half of what it was before they started bagging grain.
4. Time is saved, our R1090 10ft bagger bags at a rate of approximately 39,000 bushels per hour and our E6910 unloader will unload 9 or 10ft bags at a rate of approximately 13,800 bushels per hour. Because the bag is oxygen free, fans are not needed- eliminating any shrinkage of grain or electricity costs. Your cost for the bags will be only about 0.7 cents a bushel.
5. There is no property tax on bags, where there is with a fixed grain bin. And if you no longer need the bagger, you can always sell it- that’s pretty hard to do with a grain bin.
6. Bagging your grain gives you leverage to sell grain when the price is right, giving you back control of your grain and eliminates hasty decisions that can result in money lost
Watch our 2018 Wheat Harvest Below!
For years farmers in many states have been able to receive great interest rates for farm storage facilities on their farms through their Farm Service Agency. This program has helped around 33,000 farmers of small to medium size as well as many new farmers increase their storage capacity for storing grain and hay on their farm. They have extended this program for 2019, and we have had several customers already take advantage of it.
This is a great opportunity for farmers who would like to update their silage equipment this year!
Here is the information directly from the USDA/FSA website regarding this matter:
“The Farm Storage Facility Loan Program (FSFL) provides low-interest financing so producers can build or upgrade facilities to store commodities. Eligible commodities include grains, oilseeds, peanuts, pulse crops, hay, honey, renewable biomass commodities, fruits and vegetables, floriculture, hops, maple sap, milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, eggs, meat/poultry (unprocessed), rye and aquaculture. Eligible facility types include grain bins, hay barns, bulk tanks, and facilities for cold storage. Drying and handling and storage equipment is also eligible, including storage and handling trucks. Eligible facilities and equipment may be new or used, permanently affixed or portable.
Since its inception in May 2000, more than 33,000 loans have been issued for on-farm storage, increasing storage capacity by 900 million bushels.
FSFL is an excellent financing program for on-farm storage and handling for small and mid-sized farms, and for new farmers. Loan terms vary from 3 to 12 years. The maximum loan amount for storage facilities is $500,000. The maximum loan amount for storage and handling trucks is $100,000. In 2016 FSA introduced a new loan category, the microloan, for loans with an aggregate balance up to $50,000. Microloans offer a 5 percent down payment requirement, compared to a 15 percent down payment for a regular FSFL, and waive the regular three-year production history requirement.”
Current interest rates starting May 2019 are as follows:
If this sounds like a good program for you, take a peek at some of the available balers and wrappers we offer below and get a taste of which one might be right for your operation. We should note that grain baggers also fall under this storage loan program, and you can read more about the grain bagging side of it in our earlier blog: Grain Bagging: FSA Loan Can Help!
In Line Wrappers
Tubeline balewrappers have been trusted in the industry as reliable, feature loaded wrappers.
The NEW for 2019 TL60 Wrapper features a soft start and will wrap both round and square bales.
The NEW for 2019 TL50 Wrapper features a soft start and will wrap round bales.
The TL5000 model will wrap round bales up to 5’6”
The TL5500 model will wrap round bales up to 5’6” as well as square bales up to 3’x3’x5’6”
The TL6000 model will wrap round bales up to 6' and square bales up to 3'x3'x6'.
The TL6500 model will wrap round bales up to 6’, single square bales 4’x4’x6’ and 3’x3’x7’ OR double stacked square bales up to 3’x4’x6’.
Tubeline also offers ECV balewrappers which build upon the proven success of the AX2 wrappers, but has digital control and easy to use presets and bale counters, custom operators love these machines.
The McHale V660 Baler is a 15 knife chopper variable chamber round baler, you can make bales anywhere from 2ft 4 inches to 5ft 6inches. It makes bales of custom operator quality that are unsurpassed in silage quality. Read more about why your cows want chopped hay here.
Baler/Wrapper Combination Machines.
Mchale Fusion Vario
The McHale Vario can make bales of haylage/silage of 3ft 3 inches to 4ft 8 inches and bales of hay and straw from 2ft to 5ft 6inches. It bales and wraps all in one machine.
McHale Fusion 3+
McHale Fusion 3+ this combination machine will bale and wrap 4x4 bales The McHale Fusion 3 Plus integrated baler wrapper uses Film on Film technology to apply film to the barrel of the bale in the bale chamber. Film on Film technology has been proved to increase the feed value of your bales by replacing net wrap with another layer of special film that binds the bale together forming a wrap layer and gives you better plastic coverage on the largest surface of the bale.
Single Round Balewrappers
For small producers only wrapping 500 or less bales per year:
Are you looking for an easy to use, easy to maintain single Balewrapper?
Now you can wrap your hay easier, up to 5X5’6” diameter bales with the Tubeline TL1000R Balewrapper. This easy to use Balewrapper uses tractor hydraulics to spin and rotate the bale while it’s being wrapped so that each bale is wrapped completely and evenly every time. LEARN MORE.
For producers needing a high output, high quality machine:
McHale 991 Series balewrappers
For the medium to high producer, there is a single round bale wrapper that stands out among the pack, the McHale 991 wrapper series. These are trailed units that come in either cable controlled with 4 levers (991 BC) or with fully electronic in tractor settings (991 BE). The McHale 991 single bale wrappers are self-loading, and have a high output rating for producers who need to wrap bales fast and efficiently.
McHale 991 High Speed
For high output producers, the 991 High Speed Bale Wrapper will increase your production with its speed! As shown in the video below, the high speed wrapper has the great features of the 991 BC/BE units, but with a 50% increase in output. These wrappers will wrap bales in approximately 30 seconds!
Orbital high speed balewrapper
A high speed solution which delivers consistent and even overlap and achieves optimum levels of fodder preservation and quality.
The McHale Orbital Bale Wrapper is a high speed round bale wrapper. The McHale Orbital harnesses the proven vertical wrapping ring technology used in the McHale Fusion to deliver a high output, low maintenance bale wrapper which is capable of keeping up with multiple balers.
Single Square Balewrappers
For small producers only wrapping 500 or less bales per year:
The TL1700SR trailed bale wrapper will wrap BOTH Square AND Round bales! This is a trailed unit that will wrap 3’x3’ square bales from 4feet to 7 feet long and 4’x4’ & 5’x5’6” round bales- making it versatile for whatever kind of bales you need to wrap. LEARN MORE.
For producers needing a high output, high quality machine: McHale 998 square balewrapper
Do you need a high output square bale wrapper that can wrap 80-100 bales an hour?
The McHale 998 single square bale wrapper is a feature packed single bale wrapping machine that has a conveyor that loads square bales from the field and loads them for wrapping. The McHale 998 square bale wrapper will wrap bales up to 5.9ft in length and can wrap double stacked bales.
We love talking to customers about how our products made their operation better. Today we talked with Mark Goode from Louisburg, Kansas about his purchase of a McHale V660 baler last year. Mark made these points about his operation last year vs. the years previous.
-Mark was able to double crop last year with rye and beans sooner because he could bale and wrap his high moisture hay and didn’t have to wait for the hay to dry out. He stated that this caused no soil erosion and the fertility of his ground stayed strong all year round.
-He found 20% better consumption from his cows with his bales being chopped by the McHale baler vs. long stem hay that his cows wasted because they picked through it to pull it out.
-Last year was the first year he never had to supplement his cow/calf operation. And he believes the overall health of his cows has increased.
-He achieved 10% better density of his bales with the McHale baler because it chops the hay then packs it tight- getting as much material in a 4x5 bale as other balers get in a 5x6 bale- and he didn’t have to worry about the cows being able to easily eat the bale because it was chopped.
-Mark said that “the future of farming has to do with 3 factors: productivity, predictability and economics.” And he believes that his baler improves all three. For productivity, he referenced his double crop, predictability is being able to bale and wrap high moisture hay and not wait for it to dry, and improved economics includes the increase in money you can make by double cropping, seeing your cows gain more weight with silage and not having to supplement your cows.
-Mark also was comforted by the fact that he sees lots of McHale balers that have 20,000-30,000 bales through them and are still selling for good use- something you don’t see with other balers.
-Lastly, Mark said for other farmers thinking of investing in a McHale baler, “you can double your capacity if you invest in the right equipment.”
By now, most farmers have heard of the concept of bagging grain- it provides an easy extra storage option because you can bag directly in your field and keep your combines running. But most of the grain bagging we talk about is grain that has up to 14% moisture and will eventually be sold. What about grain that will have higher moisture and be used for livestock feed? This would be considered high moisture grain, and it will take a special machine (ie. A crimper/bagger) to achieve this. Here are 9 reasons you would want to bag high moisture grain for use in feeding livestock:
4. Grain attains its highest nutrient level, dry matter yield and palatability and ease of assimilation after fermentation progresses to its last stage at these high moisture levels in an acidic environment, in about a months time. The product remains virtually unaltered as long as the grain feed is not exposed to air.
5. Crimped grain has been traditionally processed in pits lined with plastic, but bagging has the enormous advantage of automatically providing the compression and the anaerobic atmosphere required, as well as a steady processing pace. Once crimped and ensiled, grain undergoes lactic fermentation in the absence of oxygen. No further processing is required afterward, saving on time and handling.
6. Energy use and costs diminish as grain does not have to be dried. Crimped grain is dust free, healthier for workers and stock.
7. Crops are harvested on average 3 weeks before conventional dates, at the time of their peak nutritional value. And at an earlier state than when fungal diseases emerge.
8. Earlier harvest allows easier programming of combine use and timelier establishment of following crops for improved land management. Field grain losses diminish when combining ahead of time.
9. Crimped grains are ideal concentrate feed for ruminant livestock ranging from calves and lambs to dairy cows, beef cattle and adult sheep. The inclusion of crimped feed in livestock rations results in better rumen stability and conversion efficiently. Non ruminants can also benefit from this high concentrate grain feed.
“ Field losses at harvest may be reduced by 5 to 10 percent. Losses average about 13 percent for 15% moisture grain vs 2 percent for 26% moisture grain.” ( from department of animal sciences of the University of Missouri, in reference to corn and milo harvested early as high grain feed for beef cattle.)
Information gained from Richiger R950MX brochure, 2017.
While we know that chopping hay while baling, making baleage, and feeding it to your cows with a TMR mixer increases your operations feed value, the true triad of nutrition includes all three of these techniques. By combining all three of these practices you can achieve optimal feed value resulting in more pounds of beef and more pounds of milk. Let’s define why each of these techniques individually helps your operation, then discuss what combining all three can do for you.
Choosing a baler that has a chopper unit on it will make a tighter, chopped bale. These bales will be easier for the cows to eat and your cows will waste less because it gives them a smaller particle size to chew on.
Making baleage has been proven to preserve the feed value of your hay for cows. If you wrap high moisture hay, your rate of gain will improve on a straight hay ration (ie. you only need approximately 8lbs of baleage for a cow to gain 1 lb, whereas for them to gain that same 1lb you would need to feed them 25 lbs of dry hay.)
How do these machines complement each other?
Chopping your hay will create the palatability needed if you put that bale in a TMR mixer when ready to feed. Having a chopped bale will always make your TMR mixer run faster, as the bale will take less time because it is pre-chopped. Adding silage to your TMR mixer immediately increases the value of the mix because of the added nutritional value of the bale. Add this with your other ingredients like grains, remixes and feed additives, and your cows will produce more weight and more milk because they get all the ingredients you want them to have, not just the ones they have picked through.
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Oxygen free storage is a concept that has hit the United States farm market recently, although the concept has been around in other parts of the world in recent history for about 40 years, and also dates back to times B.C.
But what exactly is oxygen free storage?
Lets get scientific. Inside a grain bag is your grain, and whatever it goes in looking and smelling like is what it will come out looking and smelling like. The moisture level will be the same as the day you put it in.
How does this occur? First, aerobic bacteria that is on your grain will use up the free oxygen available in the bag. While it does this, the bacteria are expelling Carbon Dioxide, which increases C02. Because of this, there is a decrease of deterioration in your grain, as well as controlling mold and insect infestation-because bugs cannot live without oxygen. There is no decrease in grain grade due to shrink (like in a grain bin) or oxygen degradation. So essentially there is not much going on inside the grain bag except protection from the outside world, which is just what you want. This way, you can store your grain when you want to and sell when you want to-resting assured that your grain will come out just as it went in.
Oxygen free storage can be stored up to 24 months. the storage is conveniently right on your farm, in the field, or wherever you choose to place them. This gives you the leverage to sell the grain when the market is right and it saves you money on fuel prices back and forth to the bin because you can bag right where you are harvesting, if you wish.
There is a Farm Storage Facility Loan Program that can provide farmers with low interest financing so they can acquire new or upgrade facilities to store grain. This is great news if you are interested in buying a grain bagging system this year! This loan has been available since 2000, but it was hard to determine whether grain baggers would qualify under the loan. But now it is clear that they do in fact qualify.
Grain bagging is an affordable and reliable form of grain storage and now with the loan program, it can make it easier than ever to store grain in grain bags directly in your field while harvesting or at your desired location.
Per the USDA/FSA website, the document reads that eligible commodities run the gamut and range from corn, sorghum, rice, soybeans, wheat, barley and oats- all grains that can be stored in grain bags. In the picture below you can see that it clearly states that baggers are eligible for this loan program.
So, have you considered grain bagging yet? There are advantages like the fact that grain storage in grain bags is portable, so you can bag wherever you are or want to be- whether that’s directly in the field or an easy location on your farm like next to existing grain bins. Richiger baggers are easy to use, have durable bag structure and you know that the type of grain you put in is what you will get out. Due to anaerobic bacteria, this is an oxygen free storage system so moisture levels remain the same as the day you bagged the grain.
We get a lot of first time users ask about pest control when we talk about grain bagging, but don’t fear: we have been bagging grain ourselves for over 10 years and with a little thought and prep, pests will not be a problem. Obviously if there is already a major known pest problem in an area of your land, we wouldn’t recommend choosing that spot to bag. Also, we like to use ammonium nitrate underneath where our bags will go, to ensure pest evacuation (never use sulfur). If you don’t spill large amounts of grain outside the bags, animals will not be able to smell the grain from outside the bag because they are air tight. If someone accidentally punctures a hole in your bag? We sell bag repair tape to fix that. More on frequently asked questions here.
Another benefit of bagging your grain is that bagged grain doesn’t have the added costs of fans or property taxes like fixed grain bags do. And you save fuel by not having to run back and forth to the grain bin to dump. Richiger baggers bag at approximate rates of 39,000 bushels an hour, so you won’t be waiting on trucks to dump either. And the unloading process is simple and fast as well, check out a video we took on our own farm here.
More questions about the Farm Storage Facility Loan program? Click Here
And visit your local FSA office!
More questions about Bagging Grain? Click here for full details. And watch baggers run below!
In some parts of Missouri and across the Midwest, drought conditions are starting to appear and could last for an extended period of time. Many seed suppliers are running short or have run out of sorgum sudan and pearl millet seed because producers used large parts of their hay reserve from last year and hay crops this year have been about 50%. This sends people looking for an alternative forage crop for livestock.
( via NIDIS, 10 June 2018. Pictured above)
We’ve had producers calling us over the past few weeks inquiring about baling and wrapping corn silage, and the process of it. So we are going to break it down into tangible steps you can take to help yourself regarding drought damaged corn.
How does a drought affect corn?
Drought affects corn when the nitrates used to make the plant grow remain at the bottom of the stalk, which puts drought stressed corn at a higher risk for nitrate levels being high. “High nitrate levels are frequently found where high levels of nitrogen fertilizer were applied and where drought-damaged corn is chopped a few days after a rain. Other factors that contribute to high nitrate levels in corn silage are cloudy weather, extremely high plant populations and shortages of soil phosphorus and potassium." (Kallenbach, 2012.)
What can be done?
According to the University of Missouri Ag Extension, if corn has been damaged from drought, you should chop it to help with compression of plant material. This “should help in packing the silage to exclude as much oxygen as possible. Producers should also sharpen the knives on their equipment before making silage.” (Kallenback, 2012).
Chopping will make the next two points easier as well. Like mentioned above, by chopping-the bale you make will be tighter- which will have less oxygen and will make ensiling faster. It will also make mixing easier, since the bale will process better since it is already chopped and won’t have to be chopped again in the TMR mixer.
"Ensiling drought-damaged corn is preferred to greenchop because during the fermentation process, the nitrate content can be reduced by 20 to 50 percent.” (Kallenbach, 2012.)
How to ensile?
“Simply bale high moisture forage and then wrap the bales with plastic film to exclude oxygen.” (Kallenbach, 2012) It is recommended to apply 6-8 layers of plastic wrap.
How has it worked for others?
The University of Missouri mentions a test plot of corn silage in their article called “During Drought, consider baling corn silage.”
“In 2016, a Lawrence county dairyman baled a test plot of corn for silage in collaboration with University of Missouri - Extension, S&H Farm Supply, and Crown Power of Monett. Two balers used included newly available crop cutting technology, while the third baler was a standard baler. Corn was mowed with a roller mower. This method helped keep cobs intact on plants and not left in the field. This type of mower also allowed the corn to fall in rows to accommodate the baler without tedding or raking. Corn wilted in the field until it reached 75% moisture. Corn was baled, net wrapped then wrapped in white plastic. These bales then underwent fermentation until early October. ‘The fermentation profile was remarkably similar to typical corn silage,’ Said Bluel. At feedout, cows wasted little feed and milked well. The project demonstrated that baled corn is a viable feed solution.” (Bluel, 2018).
Even though letting the corn ensile will reduce nitrates by 20-50%, if it still tests at a risky level, your other option is to mix it with other stuffs in a TMR mixer. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln agrees that “add(ing) whole corn, dried distillers grains, or ground dry forage” will give you a better chance of feeding a high quality, lower nitrate ration with your corn silage. (Rasby, Anderson). The University of Missouri also recommends diluting “the silage in the ratio with other low nitrate feedstuffs.” (Kallenbach, 2012.) Feeding from a TMR mixer in general is a practice that allows you to manage exactly what your livestock is getting per serving, because its mixed in a homogenous mix that doesn’t allow them to pick through it, and it creates less waste.
For more information, see the articles listen in our references:
Bluel, Reagan. University of Missouri Extension. “During Drought, consider baling corn silage.” 6 July 2018. http://extension.missouri.edu/barry/documents/Baled%20Corn%20Silage.pdf
Kallenbach, Rob. University of Missouri. “Making silage from drought damaged corn.” 20 July 2012. https://ipm.missouri.edu/IPCM/2012/7/Making-Silage-from-Drought-Damaged-Corn/
NIDIS. National Integrated Drought Information System. U.S. Drought Portal. 10 June 2018. https://www.drought.gov/drought/regions
Rasby, Rick and Bruce Anderson. Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Options for Drought Damaged Corn Fields.” 10 June, 2018. https://beef.unl.edu/cattleproduction/droughtdamagedcornfields
Roth, Greg and Doug Beegle. Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.
“High Nitrate Potential in Corn Silage” 10 June 2018. https://agsci.psu.edu/aasl/plant-analysis/at-harvest-corn-silage-nitrate-test/high-nitrate-potential-in-corn-silage
University of Illinois Extension. “Drought Stressed Corn as Livestock Feed: Frequently Asked Questions.” 6 August 2012. http://www.beefmagazine.com/disaster/drought-stressed-corn-livestock-feed-frequently-asked-questions
Wheaton, Howell and Fred Martz. University of Missouri Ag Extention. “Corn Silage” 10 June, 2018. https://extension2.missouri.edu/g4590
Wheat harvest has been running hard in mid Missouri for the past few weeks on our farm. First we were in a drought, then it rained like crazy for a few days. The price of wheat is down, so we decided to bag our wheat until the prices seem more reasonable. We’ve been bagging grain for about 10 years now, here are some things we are amazed by every year.
1. Bagging directly in the field saves a lot of time and money. We usually set up a bag at every field we are combining at, so its close for the combine or grain cart to just pull up and dump at. This saves time running back and forth to the grain bins, and it also saves fuel.
2. If it rains, just close the hopper. Some people ask if they have to cut the bag, stop, and close off the bag if it starts raining. Nope! Simply close the hopper on your grain bagger with the bag still on and you are good to go.
3. Our grain bagger is fast. Unloading our grain cart only takes a couple minutes each round, here’s some video below of us bagging.
4. We don’t have to use fans. The moisture we put in is what we will get out, no need for fans, which is nice.
5. It’s easy to probe a bag. If we want to check our bags we simply put bag tape over the spot we want to probe, put the probe in, then put some more bag tape over the hole.
6. We don’t worry about unloading. When we are ready to sell our wheat, we don’t worry about it. We have an unloader that is fast, easy to use, and can get into the field whether its snowing or dry.