As harvest was finishing up across the province this fall, a lot of farmers were talking about grain elevators. A grain elevator is a structure built to hold large quantities of grain after its harvested. After farmers harvest their grain, they deliver it to a grain elevator. The grain is then stored, dried, and eventually unloaded onto a truck where it will be delivered to its next stage: a flour mill, feed mill, distillery, crusher plant, or ethanol plant for example. Many grain elevators are commercial businesses run by farmers for farmers, and they organize the payment and delivery of grain on behalf of a farmer. These individuals are called grain brokers.
Upon arrival at a grain elevator the farmer will drive over the weigh scale. This is a large scale that will weigh the vehicle and grain. This data will be collected by computers and inputted into the farmers file. After weighing in, the farmer will then drive to the unloading pit. Here, the grain will be unloaded from the tractor trailer or grain cart and emptied into a moving auger which is in a pit in the ground. This auger will pull the grain up into the elevator leg where it will then be dropped down into a storage bin. While unloading, those working at the elevator will collect samples to measure the moisture and quality of the grain. Farmers will receive payment based on the weight of their grain, and where the grain stands in relation to the grain quality standards.
If the grain was wet, it will be moved to a dryer bin where it will be dried down to the correct percentage. Each load going to and from an elevator will be measured in terms of quantities and moisture content. In a seed there needs to be no more than 13-15% of moisture. If the moisture exceeds this amount then the grain will go into the dryer. Wet or damp grain can spoil in the grain bins. To dry grain, air and heat are pushed into the grain inside the bin and the grain is constantly stirred or mixed to evenly dry out the bin.