Storage silos on the rise

BERTHOLD It is a huge undertaking, but it should prove to be a major benefit for farmers in northwest North Dakota.

The Berthold Farmer’s Elevator is in the process of a massive expansion project that will greatly increase the amount of bushels stored at its facility located at the south end of Main Street. Other improvements include an additional pit for dumping grain, a dryer and another scale to weigh trucks laden with grain.

“It’s a bigger project than we envisioned when we started,” said Dan DeRouchey, general manager of Berthold Farmer’s Elevator. “When we added to the elevator about 10 years ago we held enough grain for one shuttle train. Two or three years later we added steel storage for another unit train. With this added space it gives us two more. We can take in farmers’ grain and load out shuttle trains.”

Construction on the new silos is being done by 150 workers divided into two 75-man crews working 12-hour shifts, 24 hours per day. Continuous work is required because of the unique construction demands of pouring concrete where the work area is continually rising. A system installed atop each silo under construction actually lifts the work area, workers and all, so that additional concrete for each silo can be poured, one wheelbarrow at a time. A conveyor is used to bring the concrete from trucks on the ground to workers high up on the silos.

“This project adds a little over 800,000 bushels of storage which will take us up to 2.1 million,” said Les Simons, operations manager, Berthold Farmer’s Elevator. “We’re also installing a 7,000 bushel an hour dryer to the facility and the new dump pit for 20,000 bushels is equal to the one we already have.”

The new silos, six of them, are 34 feet in diameter with a capacity of up to 115,000 bushels. In between the new silos, smaller storage bins are being constructed.

“Those three individual bins will hold about 35,000 bushels each, so there will be nine new bins,” said Simons. “We are just very happy to present this facility to the growers in northwest North Dakota.”

The first phase of construction began last September. Simons said he hopes everything will be completed and on-line by late August, meaning work should be done prior to harvest time this year. The additional silos will provide the elevator with more diversity to handle a variety of crops.

“That’s partly why we designed the facility the way we did, to try and accommodate as many of the acres as we can. We want to be a full-service business for our customers,” said Simons.

According to DeRouchey, Berthold Farmer’s Elevator hopes to be ahead of the

growing game. While corn production is not necessarily expected to increase in the region this year, DeRouchey said the area has the potential for additional corn acreage in the future.

“Basically a lot of this expansion was brought about for potential corn production in this area, kind of brought on by ethanol production,” said DeRouchey. “There’s better varieties for this area, yields have gotten good enough that it made economic sense to put corn in in this area. I’m not saying this year, but more in the future. That’s what we project, anyway.”

A modern computer system is used to manage the grains being stored at Berthold Farmer’s Elevator. A simple click is all that is required to move grain from one silo to another or from one of the pits to a storage silo. All of the grain movement is easily tracked on computer screens.

“Everything is completely state of the art automated. It’s very, very reliable and very operator friendly,” said Simons.