Johnny Wilson, PhD, on S.L.A.M.

Grain Bins Blog

We care about protecting stored grain from insect infestations. That’s why Johnny Wilson, Ph.D., from our Specialty and Grain Protection Technical Services team, developed this blog series. Previous blogs include topics like defining shrink, identifying stored grain insects, and the return on investment (ROI) possible from using grain protectants.

In this blog, Johnny breaks down why a S.L.A.M. integrated pest management program is crucial to helping you maximize profits.

S.L.A.M. Integrated Pest Management

Any pest control method from protectants to fumigants to heat treatment will not be as effective as it could be if it is not completed as part of an integrated pest management program. There are numerous different models that people like to follow, but I like the S.L.A.M. method for its conciseness and effectiveness. S.L.A.M. stands for Sanitation, Loading, Aeration, and Monitoring. These are all management practices that will not only have a positive effect on insect control but will also give you better control over your grain quality in general and each step gives proactive measures to aid in grain preservation. Let’s go over some of the high notes for each principle.

  • Sanitation includes things such as clearing vegetation away from storage bins, removing spilled grain from storage areas, and cleaning grain before loading into storage areas. It doesn’t stop there and, in my opinion, the prep work that is conducted inside of the bin prior to loading is the single most important thing that can help an IPM program that already uses pesticides. The fines from last year’s crop clogging up the aeration ducts is a staging point for the insects that will infest this year’s newly loaded crop. Cleaning out residual material and applying a treatment to the empty bin before adding new material could be the difference in a grade loss or getting a truck rejected when you go to market.
  • The Loading phase of S.L.A.M. includes practices such as slow rate of drying and conveying in order to limit the physical damage to the grain. On the pest control side, it will include things like coring the fines out of the bin, watching for moisture discrepancies and minimizing overall handling to reduce breaks.
  • Proper Aeration techniques will keep moisture content and moisture migration in check. It will also aid in reaching cooler grain mass temperatures which will cause stored product insects to go dormant or result in mortality. Keep in mind that as temperatures rise, the insects that went dormant or the eggs that were laid will start to show signs of emergence if there are no treatments in place.
  • The final step is Monitoring. This can be as simple as checking a temperature probe inserted at various points in the grain mass to acquiring grain trier samples and analyzing those for various metrics throughout the storage season. Part of this monitoring step is also with the facilities themselves and making sure to note when bins need repaired. A leaky bin can lead to rapid spoilage due to both moisture introduction and an additional entry point for pests.

Regardless of the commodity type, storage method, and region there will always be a risk of loss due to stored product insects. We like to brag to our friends and neighbors about maximizing crop yield and how we were able to coax an extra 5 bushels an acre out by implementing a new technique or product. Checks don’t get cut based on crop yield though, they get cut after delivery. By utilizing good sanitation practices, good management practices, and properly protecting your grain, you can rest easy knowing you did everything to maximize your profits.

Connect with Johnny

Johnny Wilson

If you have questions about S.L.A.M. or any other aspect of stored grain protection, you can email Johnny directly here. He specializes in preparing Integrated Pest Management programs for agricultural production systems and providing recommendations and plans specific to individual operations, as needed.


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