MANHATTAN, KANSAS, U.S. — Learning the science behind the practices used in grain management was the focus for 30 participants, representing the management teams of 12 grain companies in nine states who attended the Kansas State University’s (KSU) International Grains Program’s (IGP) semi-annual Grain Elevator Managers short course Jan. 10-14.

Course coordinator and IGP Grain Storage Specialist Emeritus Carl Reed said the workshop provides new managers the information they need to correctly interpret the experiences they will have when managing grain quality, and the insight they will require when evaluating the practices used by their predecessors.

“The purpose of the course is to supply grain-management information that is not available elsewhere and that cannot be learned by on-the-job experience, information that helps grain managers correctly interpret their experiences so they can avoid errors and become more efficient,” Reed said.

Reed, along with Sara Kepley, management consultant for ProValue; Joe Hodges president of Habco; and Wes Peterson, regional sales manager with the Mathews Company, trained the participants in topics such as personnel management, grain quality characteristics and grading, psychometrics related to aeration, operations costs, equipment handling, inventory management, grain receiving and shipping, grain monitoring and fumigation plans.

For Zach Drake, assistant superintendent of Eastern Nebraska Grain in Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S., the course was helpful in helping him transition from merchandising to operations.

“I’m a little bit newer to the operations side. Originally, I was on the merchandising side. It was a good opportunity to gain some knowledge,” he said. “It was great to learn from other people in the industry as well.”

Reed says that this is exactly what he wants to happen during the short course – participants learning from each other as well as from the lessons.

“The greatest benefit is an appreciation of the importance of system and documentation in grain management. I hope that they learn this from the formal presentations and from interaction with grain managers from other companies with other cultures,” he said.

Drake’s fellow participant, Adam Dykstra, location manager for Farmers Cooperative Company in Ames, Iowa, agreed that learning about the experiences of participants from other areas was a neat opportunity.

“I came to learn more about the efficiencies involved in running an elevator and to about increasing the bottom line for our company,” he said.

According to Dykstra, one of the lessons he took away from the course relates to shrink. One type of shrink is the moisture lost in a kernel when it is dried past the target moisture level.

“The most beneficial thing I learned was looking at the percentage of cost that is shrink compared to the percent of cost that is electrical cost or any of those other capital costs,” he said.

According to Reed, this is an example of the type of thinking that the course material encourages.

This class is just one example of the standard IGP courses. IGP regularly offers short courses in flour milling, grain purchasing, feed manufacturing and risk management as well as courses held in partnership with other industry organizations. For more information about IGP programs, go to the IGP website