Klein E. lleleji
Associate Professor & Extension Engineer
Purdue University - USA
Agricultural & Biological Engineering Department
Dear Readers of Miller Magazine,
In my article, I will share how you can be successful in the grain industry through recurrent training about storage.
The value of work force development in the grain industry through recurrent training is very often taken for granted, especially in developing countries. A lot of times, emphasis is placed on the storage structures and accompanying equipment, stored grain monitoring systems and various pest control measures (residual insecticides and fumigants), trusting that should these tools be available, then quality of the stored grain will be assured. I frequently receive questions from people about recommendations of a storage system that will ensure that the grain will not go out of condition in storage over time. My response has always been it depends on how well a stored grain manager manages the grain stocks in her or his possession, but applying some fundamental knowledge of the stored grain ecosystem.
I use the analogy that it is not how well a bank structure holds up, even though essential to the security of the cash held within its vault, rather it is how well the bank manager manages stakeholders deposits by understanding how to maneuver through the fluctuating market pressures, interest rates, economic uncertainties and risks. In essence, the knowledge capability of the manager is very important to her or his capacity to be successful on the job.
In grain storage, yearly recurrent training is a good idea. For example, the yearly training we provide at Purdue Grain Post-Harvest Extension Workshops just prior to harvest addresses issues about the quality of the incoming crop in order to enable farmers and grain elevator managers be aware of issues they might need to mitigate against. For example, there have been cases of weather related aflatoxin contamination in fields in Indiana in some years, and this prior information, which was provided during training has guided ethanol plants in the area on where not to buy corn from in order to reduce the risks from high levels of aflatoxin contaminated corn going into the food chain. Conditions such as this changes from year to year.
Additionally, the fast pace of agriculture and increasing stringent regulations means that operation managers need to keep abreast with any changes in fumigant and pesticide regulations, new GMO event approvals, as well as meet customers specifications.
Lastly, training enables managers to manage grain stocks wisely, applying knowledge to make decisions that are timely and use less chemical resources (reduce cost) for the control of insect pests. In trainings I’ve conducted, especially in developing countries, the lack of sanitation and adequate house keeping has been a major factor causing high levels of pest infestation at facilities. Interestingly, few operation managers link their poor sanitation practices to insect pest pressures at their facilities. Rather, some have relied heavily on pesticides and fumigants, which have produced little results.
For those who have made the connection, applying knowledge on the stored grain ecosystem, insect pest biology and correct interpretation of the relationship between stored grain moisture and temperature and the susceptibility of the stored grain to spoilage has been the key to their success as good stored commodity managers. The only way to hone these skills is by recurrent training.