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Computer Model Aids Grain Managers

By Ben Hardin
February 27, 1997

Insecticide applications on stored wheat can be reduced or eliminated by timely cooling of the grain with automated fans.

This cost-saving and environmentally friendly management advice comes from entomologists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. They developed a computer model called “Stored Grain Advisor” (SGA) to help with decisions on grain handling. They say unaerated grain is a prime breeding ground for rusty grain beetles, particularly unaerated wheat in bins of 3,000 bushels or more.

Computer simulation studies showed that an automatic aeration controller could keep insect populations below economically damaging levels without insecticides as far south as Oklahoma. When set to turn on fans whenever air temperature is 18 degrees F lower than grain temperature, the automated system helps suppress insect development and reproduction by keeping grain cool and saves energy and grain weight loss by cooling only when necessary.

Users of SGA can click on an insect identification icon to see pictures of 16 of the most damaging insects in stored wheat along with descriptions of the pests and the damage they inflict.

SGA graphically predicts how different management choices such as time of fumigation affect specific insects’ population growth. Software for SGA is designed to run under Microsoft Windows® on an IBM-compatible personal computer. Farmers and grain elevator operators can get the software through the extension programs of Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University and Montana State University.

Scientific contact: Paul W. Flinn, USDA-ARS U.S. Grain Marketing Research Laboratory, Manhattan, Kan., phone (785) 776-2707, fax (785) 776-2792,