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Increased Grain Production Leads to Construction of Additional Storage Facilities

Improvements in crop genetics, a reduction in conservation reserve program (CRP) acres, and generally favorable weather have contributed to an increase in grain production in the High Plains region. There has also been a continuing trend toward commercialization of agricultural production leading to larger equipment used to move the crop from the field to the elevator. These factors have created an increase in construction of additional grain storage (enclosed and on the ground) and handling facilities that are large enough to manage the modern needs of agricultural production.

For example, Terracon recently participated in the construction of a 1.1-million bushel steel bin (the first of its size in the world) and are currently working on two grain facilities with the capability of loading or unloading up to four semi tractor trailers at a time.

The size of the storage units, grain handling equipment, and increased volumes of production have made Terracon’s services increasingly important on these projects. Terracon’s geotechnical services provide design options for foundations, pavements, on ground grain storage subgrade, and un-paved driveways. Our construction materials services provide quality assurance services during construction and assist in evaluating construction materials proposed for use prior to construction.

The size of newer enclosed grain storage units has increased anticipated settlement making Terracon’s geotechnical recommendations critical. Recommendations can help designers with the proper selection of equipment, location of penetrations, type of penetrations, and connection type for these penetrations. Allowing for anticipated settlement decreases the risk of damage to the utilities and grain handling equipment. Construction materials quality assurance is also necessary on these structures to make sure foundation design is completed in accordance with the project documents. Improper construction can lead to greater settlement than was anticipated and/or differential settlement. This can cause increased maintenance, moisture intrusion, decreased life of structure, and redesign/ repair of utility and grain handling equipment attached to the grain storage structure.

On the ground grain storage also depends on proper design and construction to help keep grain loss and maintenance to a minimum. With this type of grain storage, we recommend the owner of the facility provide a preliminary design and operations plan to Terracon’s geotechnical services. Knowing what type of equipment will be used for the grain handling, anticipated truck pathways, and the owner’s maintenance expectations, allows us to design the soil subgrade to meet performance expectations. Terracon’s construction services verify the correct materials are used during construction, and installation is in accordance with the project documents. With proper subgrade soil design, drainage, and adherence to the operations plan, on the ground grain storage can be very economical. Grain losses can be kept at a minimum, and little maintenance will be required.

Terracon’s in-depth knowledge of agri-business allows us to provide industry-specific solutions in the areas of geotechnical, environmental, construction materials, and facilities engineering services. Our local offices allow us to be cost-effective working on individual sites, while our geographic coverage provides clients the expertise and resources for multi-site services.