Study Measures Propane Used for Grain Drying



AMES, Iowa – The cost of drying corn — especially the propane bills — add significant expense at harvest time. According to a case study conducted by Mark Hanna, agricultural engineer for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, propane accounts for more than 90 percent of the energy used in high-temperature corn drying.

“Considering that propane makes up such a large proportion of the energy needed for drying, farmers may want to compare their own propane consumption to the measurements from the case study,” Hanna said.

Led by Hanna, three ISU Research and Demonstration farm locations collaborated to measure the propane and electricity used for grain drying during the 2013 harvest season. The participating ISU farms included the Northeast farm near Nashua, Armstrong farm near Atlantic, and Ag 450 teaching farm near Ames. Additional support for this project was provided by a grant from the Iowa Energy Center.

A new publication from ISU Extension and Outreach illustrates the results of their efforts. Energy consumption during grain drying (PM 3063C) is available to download from the Extension Online Store, www.extension.iastate.edu/store.

“The case study shows that total energy consumption during drying was primarily affected by the initial moisture content of the corn,” Hanna said. “Initial corn moisture content and air temperature will be different this year but we plan to collect additional measurements this fall.”

Hanna was recently honored with the Dean Lee R. Kolmer award for his career achievements in applied research at Iowa State University. For more information about his farm energy efficiency research and outreach, visit http://farmenergy.exnet.iastate.edu or follow @ISU_Farm_Energy on Twitter.

The Farm Energy publications are part of a series of farm energy efficiency resources developed by ISU Farm Energy. This outreach effort aims to help farmers and utility providers to improve on-farm energy management and to increase profitability in a rapidly changing energy environment.