Corn is an extremely well-known crop all over the world, which requires drying to be put on the market. This treatment naturally involves costs, but these can be reduced to achieve profit maximization. How? Mecmar, specialist in the production of grain dryers, explains it to you in this article.
Drying corn: how and why?
Corn hardly manages to be dried effectively only thanks to a natural process. That is why corn is dried using special solutions: grain dryers.
However, the reasons for drying corn are not only related to storage: there are numerous benefits associated with this process. In the article “5 advantages of grain drying you need to consider for your farm“, we talked about the advantages that drying allows and why a farm should consider them.
How much does it cost to dry corn?
To calculate corn drying cost, it is advisable to make a distinction between fixed costs and variable costs.
By comparing year by year the sum of the total costs with the annual production, the cost per dried ton is obtained. This allows a series of assessments to be carried out upstream, for example:
- Choose whether it is more convenient to buy a grain dryer or to continue drying on a subcontract basis;
- Evaluate whether and how convenient it is to purchase a grain dryer to provide a drying service to third parties;
- Understanding which type of grain dryer would be most cost effective to purchase.
Fixed costs include the purchase cost of the drying system with its components (burner, fan, storage container, etc.) as well as ownership costs: these vary according to size and total investment in storage systems and include depreciation, interest, taxes and insurance. These are costs that do not undergo variations depending on the quantity of product to be dried, like variable costs do.
As for the purchase cost of the grain dryer, the first determining parameter is the size: in fact, the larger the size, the higher the cost. At the same time, the larger the size, the lower the cost per cubic meter of capacity.
Other elements that affect the purchase cost are the type of grain dryer chosen (tower or mobile), the type of drive (tractor grain dryer or electric grain dryer), the fuel required (gas or diesel) and the number of accessories chosen.
Variable costs, on the other hand, vary according to the use of the grain dryer, the volume of product, fuel, maintenance, labor, etc. The higher the product volume, the greater the impact of variable costs on total costs will be. The same applies to the starting moisture content (which generally varies from 25 to 18%): the higher this level, the longer the drying process necessary and, consequently, the costs.
Similarly, the lower the final humidity level to be reached is, the greater is the time required for the drying process and the related costs. The type of cereal and the level of cleanliness required are other elements that influence the amount of variable costs.
Other costs to consider are those of maintenance (in the absence of references, 1-2% per annum on the purchase cost can be considered), of use (such as electricity, fuel, etc.), as well as costs for start-up, service and disused. Furthermore, if a mobile grain dryer is used to dry from place to place, transport costs should also be considered.
For an estimate of fuel costs, it should be borne in mind that to dry (by 1%) one ton of cereal, alternatively:
- 1.1 l of diesel oil;
- 1.1 m3 of methane gas;
- 1.55 l of LPG.
Once the costs per unit of the various fuels are known, it is possible to estimate the cost of using them.
If the cost pays off the investment, any customization of the machine must also be evaluated.
The total cost for drying corn is the sum of the fixed costs and the variable costs: to calculate the final cost for drying one ton of product, it is necessary to add up the costs of labor, fuel and maintenance, related to the specific characteristics of corn.
How to reduce corn drying cost?
To reduce the corn drying cost, it is crucial to clearly know the incidence of costs, to understand which cost item affects the total most. Once this item has been identified, it is a question of evaluating the elements that can lead to a reduction in the overall cost.
Let’s go into concrete with some examples:
- In the past it was convenient to dry with a diesel burner, while today it is more advantageous to use gas. In this case it is possible to reduce costs by replacing the burner.
- You have a grain dryer with a direct fire burner: using a heating system with a heat exchanger, the treated cereal would have a higher selling price. You could therefore consider purchasing a cylinder head with exchanger, to replace the direct fire one.
- If the need for the product to be dried increases, it is advisable to consider purchasing a larger grain drying system.
- You are equipped with a photovoltaic system, which gives high availability of electricity. If you had a tractor grain dryer, it would be advantageous to replace it with an electric one, which exploits the availability of energy offered by photovoltaics.
Reducing the corn drying cost may be possible starting from the appropriate choice of the grain dryer to use: it is essential to understand whether to move towards mobile or tower grain dryers and also evaluate characteristics such as capacity and dimensions of the machine.
It is good to inquire about the elements that affect drying costs, as they vary not only according to the type of cereal and the purpose of the cereal following drying, but also from country to country, depending on subsidies and taxes. Once these elements have been identified, it is possible to determine the type of machine and the configuration that best suits your case.
For over forty years, Mecmar has been involved in the development of corn dryers and any cereal and legume. If you want to find out which solution could allow you to reduce the corn drying cost, do not hesitate to contact us: our experts are ready to provide you with the answers you are looking for.