On the welcome sign outside of town, Swayzee claims to be “the only Swayzee in the world.” The story goes that when a serviceman overseas during World War II sent a postcard back home with only ‘Swayzee’ in the address, with no mention of Indiana or any other information, it was still successfully delivered.
Carey Farms, located south of Swayzee, can make a similar claim of uniqueness about their grain operation. One of the principal owners of Carey Farms, Inc. is Josh Carey. He says, “there aren’t two grain systems the same anywhere. There’s just not.”
Josh operates Carey Farms with his wife, Tracy and his parents, Dan and Vicki. His brothers Brett and Shane, who work off the farm, also help with day-to-day operations and management, including the planning and construction of their family’s new grain system completed in 2021. The Careys were given an opportunity for a fresh start with their operation and capitalized on that by investing in a grain facility that will pay dividends for multiple generations to come.
Choosing the right site.
The Careys took their time to find the best building site for their grain system. “We didn’t want to make a large investment and build a great facility in a bad location, so we were very patient with the site selection process,” explained Carey. “We wanted three-phase power, a high-pressure natural gas line and good roads. Plus, it needed to be centrally located for our acreage.”
Fine-tuning the plans.
Josh’s brother Shane is a mechanical engineer and did a lot of the research and initial planning for the grain system. Since he has access to CAD software, he was able to draw out their vision for the grain system in advance. This gave Adam Trost, the local Brock dealer with Indiana Farm Systems, a great starting point for designing and laying out the plans.
“They had a general idea of how big they wanted their system and other details,” said Trost. “We planned out how tall the leg and tower needed to be and what size downspouts and conveyors were required.”
“Indiana Farm Systems gave us a thorough CAD drawing that we could continue modifying,” said Carey. “We worked through five different layouts. We had bins positioned on different sides of the dump leg. We initially planned for a smaller-capacity dryer, but decided to increase the dryer size. It was a small incremental investment, and it better positions us for near-term growth opportunities.”
Storage, handling and structure components.
The grain storage system at Carey Farms includes a Brock 254,488 bushel 72-foot diameter bin, a 42,172 bushel 30-foot wet storage bin, and a 52,827 bushel 42-foot soybean bin.
Inside Brock’s LEMAR® Tower structure, they have an 8,000 bushel per hour Brock wet leg and a 5,000 bushel per hour Brock dry leg. A swing distributor connects to the grain handling system that includes three Brock GrainDrive™ Incline Drag Conveyors, with each able to reclaim grain at 5,000 bushels per hour from the dump pit system and dryers. A Brock Horizontal Drag Conveyor fills the main 72-foot bin at 8,000 bushels per hour.
Drying and conditioning system.
Grain at Carey Farms is conditioned using a 2400 MEYER ENERGY MISER® Tower Dryer. “We can dry grain so much more cost effectively than what we would be charged at a commercial grain elevator,” explained Carey. “The benefits of having on-farm handling and drying capacity is unbelievable during harvest. People don’t think farmers are very high tech, but it’s amazing what the INTUI-DRY® System can do. The system works most efficiently and accurately when you let it run in automatic mode. We dried 325,000 bushels of corn last year, and our dealer didn’t have to come out for anything and we made minimal manual adjustments to the dryer.”
“My brother Shane and I have been investigating the Brock TrueGrain™ Moisture Sensor System that came out this year, and will likely install that this year,” said Carey. “Anything to get the moisture more accurate, we feel like it makes your dryer more efficient and enhances grain quality.”
Spending money on the ground instead of in the air.
One of the unique elements of the Carey grain system is their large dump pit that holds roughly 1,400 bushels. The pit allows the grain system to continue filling bins while the drivers are going to get another load.
“Our Brock dealer had experience installing this pit system, so that’s another reason we went with them,” said Carey. “We dump a truck in 30 seconds and we drive away as the facility continues running while the truck driver is gone. One person can oversee the grain facility and keep pace with hauling grain away from the combine. We are able to shift people to other projects on the farm instead of multiple people hauling grain. If we didn’t have this dump pit, we would need much larger receiving legs, conveyors and downspouts to replicate the speed and throughput we experience now. This allowed us to more effectively allocate capital, while significantly streamlining our fall harvest operations.”
Building for future growth and expansion.
At first, the Careys were considering building a smaller system with a 180,000 bushel corn bin.
“When we were building this system, it was right when the metal market was at it’s lowest,” explained Carey. “My brother Brett is our financial manager, and he watches these markets closely. With the incremental financial savings the dump pit allowed us to realize by utilizing smaller-capacity handling equipment, we chose to invest in a larger grain bin than initially planned. It was better for us to invest more upfront on storage than wish we did in a few years. The additional storage has allowed us to evolve our approach to grain marketing and ultimately drive more profitability to our operation.”
“I did not want my boys, 25 years from now, to be constrained by the layout of the grain facility continued Carey. “I want them to have options for expansion and growth.” With future money-savings in mind, the Brock dealer recommended a larger tower and an EVERLOC® Roof Mount System to connect the bin with Brock’s LEMAR® Tower Support Systems. These features will allow the Careys to add another 72-foot bin right next to their current bin if necessary, and it’s already designed to accept another catwalk and conveyor.