What is Natural-Air Drying?

In my discussions with farmers lately, we’ve been talking a lot about natural air drying and its advantages. Some people think Natural-air drying (also called ambient-air drying or just air-drying) takes longer. And it does a bit. But it is also a heck of a lot less expensive than conventional methods. For example, drying at an elevator can cost 40 cents per bushel, where BinManager, our automated natural air-drying system only costs between 10 to 15 cents per bushel for an average size bin of XX diameter. And, a system like BinManager will keep your grain at the optimum temperature and moisture content until you’re ready to go to market.

With natural air drying, done properly, it can ensure that you avoid spoilage, over-drying and insects all of which can really make a dent in a guy’s yield.

So, what is natural air drying? Air drying is typically an on-farm in-bin drying method. It primarily uses unheated, outdoor air to dry crops to a safe storage moisture content (usually between 13 to 15%, depending on the crop). The energy for removing moisture comes primarily from the drying potential of outdoor air. You can use a supplemental heater to help when Mother Nature blesses us with cold, damp weather.

Natural air drying is an in-bin drying system with the following typical characteristics:

  • Drying process generally requires 4 to 8 weeks.
  • Initial moisture content is normally limited to 22 to 24% (although BinManager has dried higher)
  • Drying results from forcing unheated air through grain at airflow rates of 1 to 2 cfm/bu.
  • Drying and storage occur in the same bin, minimizing grain handling.
  • Grain depth of 21 foot to natural air dry at high moisture

In the coming weeks, we’ll talk more specifically about natural-air drying. But between now and then, if you have any questions – just call me at 1-888-862-6046.