Tanks a concrete solution

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October 15, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Three new concrete grain tanks, each capable of holding about 50,000 bushels, won’t be ready to hold Brian Specht’s harvests this fall.
Not to worry, said Specht. “At the price grain is today I wouldn’t want to store it anyway.”
Corn is above $5 a bushel and soybeans, with harvest in full swing, are fetching nearly $12 a bushel. That makes yields — his corn averaged well above 100 bushels an acre — plenty profitable.
The first of the three imposing concrete tanks essentially is compete, save its roof and loading and unloading systems. Workers from McPherson Concrete are pouring the second one. Each is 80 feet tall and 34 feet in diameter.
The tanks will give Specht 150,000 bushels of storage where two steel bins, built in the late 1960s for Piqua Grain Cooperative, held 20,000 bushels each.
Why did he choose concrete tanks over less expensive steel?
“Think Greensburg,” Specht answered. “After the tornado hit there (in 2007) about the only thing still standing were concrete grain tanks.
“Dad (Archie Specht) and I talked about steel and concrete before deciding and came up with four practical reasons,” he continued. “Insurance costs, because of their durability, favor concrete, and you can put a hopper inside,” to pump grain out at the bottom without having to manually maneuver grain to the exit point. “You can draw down grain without fear of collapsing the tank,” from a port a third of the way up the side, which will pour corn or soybeans directly into a truck pulled alongside.
Also, the concrete superstructure is strong enough to support a leg, which augers grain into whichever tank preferred, without having to have a separate tower and guy wires to hold it in place.
Jump form construction involves heavy steel forms with liberal amounts of reinforcing steel rods woven between and a concrete distribution cart that travels around the edge of scaffolding placed inside the tank.
“I figured they’d pump concrete into the forms,” Specht said. Instead, a fifth of a yard of concrete is put into the cart and then into the forms. The concrete immediately is vibrated to make certain it settles firmly against the forms.
“It’s a labor-intensive process,” Specht allowed. “Altogether, it takes about seven days to pour all the concrete for one tank.”
The leg and other distribution features will be added in late November.
Concrete grain tanks are familiar to the area. Grain is stored in similar structures in Yates Center and Le Roy. One in Nebraska holds 1 million bushels.

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