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Facility to fit needs of central Kansas grain producers

By Kylene Scott


Not much has changed in the construction of grain silos and elevator bins throughout the years, and it's no different for a new facility near Canton, Kan. All the concrete is pumped up the construction platform where workers fill wheelbarrows to dump into forms building the sides of the silos. (Journal photo by Kylene Scott.)

Not much has changed in the way grain elevators are built, except they are bigger and taller now than they have ever been. Workers are working around the clock to build the silos of a grain shuttle loader facility near Canton, Kan. The facility has the potential to load 110-car unit trains in less than 12 hours, Mid Kansas Cooperative officials said.

Three pits—two larger ones designed for dumping semi trucks and a smaller one for smaller trucks—will help fill the new facility, which can receive 60,000 bushels an hour.

“I’ve worked at an older elevator, and when you dump a large semi truck you’ve usually got to stop and let it catch up and wait, and wait,” Erik Lange, MKC director of Southern Operations, said. “You will not do that here. It will eat that grain faster than the truck can dump it. So it’s going to be kind of neat.”

The design will allow trucks to have minimal wait times as well.

“There’s also a small pit and that’s for the smaller older trucks. That way the smaller farmer doesn’t feel like he’s going to get run over and also you won’t slow down the larger trucks,” Lange said.

The cement storage bins will house about 1.1 million bushels depending on commodity. Other areas will be used for ground storage.

“Come wheat harvest, they’ll take wheat here, but it’ll all be ground piled and basically its going to be over 2 million bushels in the ground pile,” Lange said. “Hopefully Sept. 1 is when they anticipate the facility operating.”

The facility design—made for 110 cars—allows for better freight rates and a lot better handling capacity, Lange said.

“Instead of putting the assets outside of the rail—if you do that you have to have even more property because to move 110 cars around takes all this space, right? You’ve got about 160 acres here. So they decided it made more sense to put the assets inside the rail,” Lange said. “There’s a lot of room here so that over the years, they can add a lot of storage here very easily.”

An overpass allows vehicles, including fully loaded grain trucks, to drive over the train tracks.

“So you’re never blocked off—traffic can come either way. There’s not a train that took the route you took in here basically and go right around,” Lange said. “So it’s a pretty well designed facility for traffic flow. There are two scales and also the automation here is pretty awesome too.”

MKC officials began studying the need for a facility several years ago, Lange said, and found there will be more corn and soybean acres planted and ultimately harvested in the years to come.

“Corn and soybeans are a lot more yield proven per acre, so you can go from 40 bushels for wheat to 120 and higher in corn so there’s a lot more grain out there,” he said. “We need a lot more storage. It’s better that we have more grain, but it gives more immediate need for storage.”

With the increase in the quantities of corn and soybeans, storage designs also had to take into consideration how wet the grains are.

“The other thing is with that type of a grain, it’s a lot wetter grain. All these older facilities were designed for wheat, so it’s harder for them to dry this properly,” Lange said. “So we need more capacity, we need also the ability to treat that grain and maintain it.”

He said it would cost as much to upgrade the older elevators to handle the increased production of corn and soybeans but still not have what is needed.

The access to rail will also help with the marketing of the customers’ grain.

“One of the real big reasons for rail too is the fact that you’re going to be able to reach Gulf Coast, West Coast markets, all these markets. The only way we could reach before is to truck to another terminal. And now they can do it direct from here,” Lange said.

The facility will be called Producer Ag, LLC, and MKC will have 50 percent ownership with CHS having the remaining 50 percent. MKC will retain controlling interest and operate it.

“It will be operated like a local elevator and that means if you’re an MKC member you do get patronage, but anyone can bring grain here. You don’t have to be an MKC member,” Lange said. “So it’s kind of nice. Even if you’re a small farmer or a large farmer you can bring your grain here.”

Kylene Scott can be reached by phone at 620-227-1804 or by email at kscott@hpj.com.

Date: 5/5/2014



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