CO2 Monitors Help Reduct Grain Losses During Drought

How bad is the 2012 drought?

The US Drought Monitor reports that 88 percent of this year’s corn crop and 77 percent of the soybean crop are now affected by the most severe drought since 1988. Annual corn production in the US is expected to drop 12% this season. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing drought assistance across 32 states, and warns of increased food prices in 2013 as a result of corn and soybean yield losses.

While future innovations like the introduction of more drought-resistant crops have been proposed, they will take years to implement. Fortunately, an innovation available to grain farmers today is the increased use of carbon dioxide gas as part of a controlled atmosphere (CA) storage plan to reduce grain losses from bacteria, mold, fungi and insects.

CA storage is relatively new in the US. Historically, farmers focused on grain yield loss by insects during the growing season. Grain loss during storage was of secondary importance. However, a USDA study in 1986 found that Pennsylvania farmers lost up to 10% of their grain crop from the time of harvest until the grain was fed or processed. Even with the use of modern grain elevators, using CO2 in CA storage can help offset the loss of grains due to smaller harvests.

CA storage starts with grain dried to 12% moisture content and cooled. Once the grain is stored, carbon dioxide monitors in the grain elevators can be used to detect CO2 “hot spots.” These areas of increased CO2 can be the result of bacteria, mold, fungi, or even insect metabolism. If high CO2 levels are discovered, stored grain can be aerated or even fumigated using CO2 in sealed storage silos. has been fortunate to work on several CA storage projects. Three of our most popular products in this industry are:

iSense Remote CO2 Storage Safety Alarm – This unit lets you measure carbon dioxide levels in one location and read the results hundreds of feet away on a display. It is perfect for measuring CO2 levels from a trailer or a train hopper car and monitoring the levels from the cab. You can “daisy chain” multiple sensors to a single head unit, and the built-in data logger lets you verify CO2 levels for damaged product insurance claims. Learn more...

iSense CO2 Level Controller & Transmitter – the CO2 level controller monitors CO2 levels, from multiple “daisy chained” sensors, and if CO2 levels are too high, includes an industrial relay capable of running a 250V/10A fan. It can also be used to control CO2 injection projects. Learn more...

Portable CO2 Sampling Data Logger – This hand-held unit features an internal pump to let you reach deep inside bulk storage bins or silos to take air quality samples. With the built-in internal memory, samples can be taken over time and downloaded to a PC to determine the rate of change of CO2 levels - up means mold or fungus, down means leaks in grain storage containers sealed with CO2 inside. Learn more...

Posted by CO2 Meter on August 02, 2012.
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