What is inter-silo transport? Aren't all silo the same?
Of course not! There are "collection silos": where the grain is shipped to immediately after being harvested. That's where farmers deliver their crops. And as all farmers tend to harvest at the same time, there are often long queues at the silo when the grain is delivered, and sometimes bottlenecks when the silo is full. Then we need to take the grain elsewhere, to a "distribution silo". This is a silo designed to store homogenous batches (the same type and quality of grain) that meet the needs customers in terms of its specific use (breadmaking, pastries, brewing, savoury snacks, etc.). From there, the grain is then loaded onto lorries, trains, barges, or cargo ships, and sent to the end buyer.
You mentioned economic benefits for the farmer. Could you elaborate?
First of all, developing on-farm storage saves farmers time: they deliver straight to the distribution silo and avoid the queues at the collection silo. This gives them greater flexibility in managing their harvest, fewer trips to the silo, and total autonomy to harvest 24h/day 7 days/week if they want. It also boosts their income, since VIVESCIA is incentivising on-farm storage with bonuses that vary depending on the duration of storage. Moreover, farmers can better allocate their harvest, and therefore get a better total price for it.
On-farm storage requires specific adaptations. It has a cost. Can all farmers afford it?
On-farm storage is first and foremost an investment. An investment that VIVESCIA supports through storage bonuses. And it's a modular investment: the storage building and equipment are designed based on each farmer's crops and plans. This investment can be an opportunity to add value to an old building, to modernise the farm, and to make it more efficient. Some farmers also choose to install solar panels in order to help improve the return on investment. Ultimately, this investment adds value to the farm itself, whether the farmer wants to continue to operate it, or to pass on to their children, or to sell it. In summary, like any other investment it demands a return on investment. And this can be calculated.
You can't just play it by ear. How do you help farmers who want to embark on this type of project?
In a silo, we look after the grain: we ventilate it, we monitor its temperature, we ensure its quality does not deteriorate. The same must be true for on-farm storage. That's why our advisers work alongside farmers when they need it at every stage: Evaluation and definition of requirements, type of storage (bin or flat storage), choice of lighting, ventilation and temperature management system to monitor the grain's temperature precisely, and course, raising awareness of good storage practices. For example, you need to choose lighting with protective casings to avoid getting pieces of glass in the event of breakage, to know how to gradually lower the temperature in stages, sampling, cleaning between seasons, etc. But farmers know their grain well. They know how to look after it!