Facility Feature
Topflight Grain Co. Expands Corn, Soybean Capacity With Two Separate Projects

Topfight Grain Co.’s Emery Road branch elevator near Maroa, IL with new corn tank at far right and soybean annex at left. Photo by Prairie Skycam, Pana, IL.

Illinois cooperative uses two contractors to be sure location is ready for harvest 2020

Maroa, IL — Virtually every acre of cropland around central Illinois is devoted to corn and soybeans. When it came time to expand storage and receiving capacity in 2020 at Topflight Grain Co.’s Emery Road elevator off U.S. Highway 51 between Forsyth and Maroa, IL, the cooperative chose to build two separate projects, one for corn and one for soybeans.

On the corn side, Topflight added a 105-foot-diameter corrugated steel tank holding 788,000 bushels.

For soybeans, the cooperative built an entirely separate soybean annex including two 90-foot-diameter steel tanks holding 572,000 bushels each. Also part of the annex, Topflight replaced a 75-foot-diameter, 283,000-bushel tank that had been destroyed April 7 in a windstorm.

“All of that allowed us to eliminate a 700,000-bushel ground pile,” says CEO/General Manager Derrick Bruhn, who has been with Topflight for 19 years and in his present position since April. “We saw a lot of market opportunity in this area for trucking grain to the big processors in Decatur (IL). In addition to the storage, we were able to boost our receiving capacity from 10,000 to 20,000 bph.”

Two general contractors hired

Topflight divided up all of this work between two separate general contractors. “We didn’t want to tie up all of this work with one contractor, and we wanted to make sure everything was ready in time for harvest,” says Operations Manager Eric Clements, who has spent his entire 34-year grain industry career with Topflight.

For the soybean annex, the cooperative awarded a contract to Cleveland Grain Systems, Mt. Zion, IL (800-313-2603). The contractor on the corn tank was Koehl Bros. Inc., Fairbury, IL (815-692-2326). “Both companies have done many good projects with us before,” says Clements.

Among other participants:

  • LoweCon LLC, Crawfordsville, IN (765-866-8231), erected all of the steel storage tanks.
  • SKS Engineers LLC, Decatur, IL (217-877-2100), performed engineering work.
  • Atchison Electric, Sullivan, IL (217-728-4713), was the electrical contractor.
  • Craig’s Concrete, Gilman, IL (815-265-7355), supplied concrete and poured foundations.
  • Seevers Farm Drainage Inc., Argenta, IL (800-531-2290), poured concrete drives for truck traffic to and around the new soybean annex.

Work on both projects began in March 2020 and was completed in time for harvest in September.

The 105-foot-diameter GSI tank that Koehl Bros. built stands 99 feet tall at the eave and 125 feet tall at the peak. It has outside stiffeners, flat concrete floor, a 12-inch GSI X-Series zero-entry sweep auger, 24-cable Rolfes@Boone grain temperature monitoring system, and BinMaster level indicators. Four 60-hp Chicago Blower centrifugal fans supply 1/8 cfm per bushel of aeration with 13 roof exhausters and 23 gravity vents.

Tanks include added safety features

All of the tanks erected at Emery Road have additional safety features including a walkway around the rooftop and grab bar around the edge of the roof.

A 20,000-bph GSI drag conveyor takes grain out to the new tank. The tank empties onto a GSI 10,000-bph drag conveyor in an above-ground 6-foot-x-6-foot tunnel.

The two 90-foot-diameter GSI tanks in the Cleveland Grain Systems-built annex are 99 feet tall at the eave and 122-1/2 feet tall at the peak.

They include outside stiffeners, flat floors, 12-inch GSI X-Series sweep augers, 18-cable Rolfes@Boone grain temperature monitoring systems, and BinMaster level indicators. One of the two tanks also includes a wraparound staircase that continues onto an adjacent LeMar support tower. A set of four 50-hp Chicago Blower centrifugal fans per tank supply 1/7.5 cfm per bushel of aeration with 10 roof exhausters.

The adjacent 75-foot-diameter GSI tank is identical to the tank that was destroyed in April standing 69-1/2 feet tall at the eave and 89 feet tall at the peak. It is being included as part of the soybean annex.

A concrete receiving shed next to the new tanks houses a 1,800-bushel mechanical receiving pit and is equipped with a Schenck Process dust collection system. The pit feeds a 20,000-bph GSI leg with Maxi-Lift 20x8 TigerTuff buckets mounted on a 22-inch Continental belt.

The leg, in turn, feeds into an AGI HSI four-hole rotary distributor. The leg and distributor are encased in a 14-foot-x-14-foot-x-155-foot LeMar support tower.

The distributor sends grain onto a series of GSI overhead 20,000-bph drag conveyors running out to the soybean storage tanks. One duct feeds a gravity spout to a 5,000-bushel Meridian welded steel surge tank on top of the receiving shed used for truck loading.

Annex tanks empty into 10,000-bph above-ground GSI drag conveyors running back to the receiving leg.

Topflight Grain Co.

  • Monticello, IL • 217-762-2163
  • Founded • 1998
  • Storage capacity: 42 million bushels at 14 locations
  • Annual volume: 44 million bushels
  • Annual revenues: $220 million
  • Number of members: 2,300
  • Number of employees: 63
  • Crops handled: Corn, soybeans, non-GMO soybeans, soft red winter wheat
  • Services
  • Grain handling and merchandising, agronomy, ethanol, crop insurance

Key Personnel at Emery Road

  • Derrick Bruhn, general manager/CEO
  • Eric Clements, operations manager
  • Chelsey White, location manager
  • Jacob hunt, area superintendent
  • Cole Brewer, plant superintendent
  • Taylor Kelsheimer, customer service rep

Project Suppliers

  • Aeration fans • Decatur Aeration
  • Bin sweeps • GSI
  • Bucket elevator • GSI
  • Catwalk • LeMar Industries
  • Concrete • Craig’s Concrete
  • Control system • Harvest Engineering LLC
  • Conveyors • GSI
  • Contractors • Cleveland Grain Systems, Koehl Bros. Inc.
  • Distributor • AGI HSI
  • Dust collection system • Schenck Process LLC
  • Electrical contractor • Atchison Electric
  • Elevator buckets • Maxi-Lift Inc.
  • Engineering • SKS Engineers LLC
  • Grain temperature system  Rolfes@Boone
  • Leg belting • Continental
  • Level indicators • BinMaster Level Controls
  • Millwrights • Cleveland Grain Systems, Koehl Bros. Inc.
  • Pit fabrication • Iron Bull Fabrication
  • Road builder • Seevers Farm Drainage
  • Speed reducers • Dodge
  • Steel storage • GSI, Meridian Mfg. Inc.
  • Steel tank erection • LoweCon LLC
  • Tower support system • LeMar Industries

Ed Zdrojewski, editor

Reprinted from July/August 2020 GRAIN JOURNAL

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