University of Guelph researchers want to understand issues like energy use
By Diego Flammini
Researchers from the University of Guelph (U of G) are looking for Ontario producers to participate in a grain dryer study.
Data about the number of grain dryers and where they’re located isn’t readily available, so Dr. David Lubitz, a professor in the U of G’s school of engineering, wants to collect that information.
“Grain dryers are obviously an important part of grain production in Ontario, and we know they run on natural gas and propane, but nobody really knows what’s out there,” he told Farms.com. “We want to find out how many grain dryers there are in the province, what types are they, where are they and how they’re used.”
Lubitz is working with a team from OMAFRA on the project.
Early results from survey responses have uncovered a trend.
More producers are investing in on-farm drying, Lubitz said.
“Grain farming is evolving, and I think there’s a trend for farms to have on-farm storage and that translates into more on-farm drying,” he said. “We called elevators and equipment dealers too and there seems to be evidence to support this.”
In addition, researchers want to find out how policies affect grain dryer usage.
The carbon tax, for example, increased operating costs for producers.
“The first round of the tax didn’t include the fuels farmers use for grain drying,” Lubitz said. “My guess is the people who wrote up the policy had the best intentions in mind, but just didn’t know about this sector of farming.”
The grain dryer survey is ultimately part of a larger project.
The researchers also want to understand issues like noise or dust effects on neighbours and other experiences or concerns.
Lubitz and his team want to collect noise level data and particle information from grain dryers to share with municipalities.
“We’ve seen in other areas when there’s a lack of information, it can lead to policies or bylaws or regulations that perhaps aren’t practical,” Lubitz said. “You can’t tell a farmer to shut off their grain dryer between certain times because sometimes they need to be on all day. But there might be some low-hanging fruit where we can take measures to reduce noise. There also might not be, but we need to know for sure.”
Lubitz’s team won’t release individual results of the survey, but a summary will be published on Field Crop News when completed.
Producers who complete the survey will be entered into a draw for a $25 Tim Horton’s gift card.